Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka has criticised the police for playing down the invasion of his house in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital on Tuesday by cows and herders.
In a statement on Thursday, the professor of English said it was not the first time herders were attacking his property.
He said: “For those who truly seek details of the Ijegba incident, I hereby affirm that I was never physically attacked, neither did I attack any cows. The cows and herders did however attack my property – and not for the first time.
“The police need to be very, very careful, learn to be straightforward with public information. Failure to adhere to that obvious, basic form of conduct means that the public will lose total confidence in security agencies and constantly bypass them in times of civic unrest, no matter how trivial or deadly. How on earth could the police claim that my property was not invaded by cattle? It was. My groundsmen knew the drill and commenced the process of expelling them. Fortunately, I was then driving out and was able to lend a hand by vehicle maneuvering. Both cattle and herdsmen were flushed out of my property.
“Once they were outside the gates, I came down from the vehicle and beckoned the herdsmen to come over. At first, they pretended not to understand, then, as I approached, fled into the bush. We thereupon ‘arrested’ the cows, confining them to the roadside, while I sent my groundsman, Taiye, to the police to come and take over. Since they took rather long in responding, I summoned a replacement and proceeded to the police station. On the way, we met a detachment, turned round, and together we returned to the scene of crime.”
Soyinka said he stopped the police from combing the bush for the herders, insisting the police should instead “keep the cows” so the owner would show up.
“I thoroughly resent the police version which suggests that the cows never invaded my home: home is not just a building; it includes its grounds. And it was not a stray cow, or two or three. It was a herd – we have photos, so why the lie?” he asked.
“It is so unnecessary, unprofessional and suspiciously compromised. The police suggest that I have nothing better to do than to go accosting cows on the public road – to what end? If the police demand proof, the next time such an invasion takes place, I warn that there will be no lack for cadaver affirmation and the police will be officially invited to join in the ensuing suya feast.”
The playwright added that he and some unnamed persons are about “to commence a process of public sensitization” on the imminent danger of cattle imperialism.
“We hope even the police will join hands with the agenda as it progresses,” he said.