Stories from Olusesan Laoye, Ibadan
The man at the centre of the storm in the security debacle in Ibarapa, Oyo State, Sunday Igboho has declared that his mission is to ensure that Yorubaland is rid of bandits.
In an interview with journalists at the weekend, Igboho decried the failure of government to ensure security and protection for his people, insisting that he was legitimately invited by the community leaders to help out as the situation had indeed gone out of control.
At the moment there is great tension in the Oke Ogun Ibarapa Zones of Oyo State even as men that are allegedly linked to the self-declared Yoruba liberator have reportedly stormed the Fulani enclaves in the Igangan Ibarapa zone of Oyo State over the rampant invasion of bandits and kidnappers that are widely believed to be linked to the Fulanis in the area.
On Friday, Igbogho as earlier promised, stormed the area and reaffirmed that the place was no longer conducive for the Fulani-linked bandits in the area that were allegedly terrorising people and killing and raping women. This was after an earlier notice giving them seven days to vacate the area where they are domiciled had not been heeded.
It is at this point that the youths in the area now descended on the Fulani in the area and drove them away.
It will be recalled that before the current action, there had been several cases of kidnappings of prominent personalities, academics, business men and women, students and youths by the Fulani-linked bandits.
During the exercise, several houses were burnt and the markets where the mainly Fulani merchants trade in cattle were destroyed.
Several villages, especially Erupa where the Head of the Fulani community resides were destroyed and the villagers had to flee for their own safety. The place has now turned to a ghost village while business and other commercial activities have been paralysed.
The youths of the entire Ibarapa were seen jubilating after the Fulani were chased out.
A community leader, Chief Isola Oguntunde told journalists at Igangan that they were happy that Sunday Igboho has stood up to liberate them from the hands of the Fulanis who had, for many years, put them in a state of siege.
He said in the past three years and indeed since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power, the Fulani-linked bandits have been carrying out their nefarious activities with confidence and pride that no one in the country can arrest them.
Another Chief in Erupa, Igangan, Chief Kamaludeen Ewudola told journalists that the situation has been so bad that they have not been going to their farms as a result of the invasion of the herdsmen.
He said that indeed all the people in the area were in support of Igboho’s action.
He pointed out that they were not against the Fulani living with them but that their leaders had not been able to put the bandit elements in check, saying, that whenever they destroyed their crops and they go to report to the Serikin Fulani, the feedback they had been getting was not palatable
“We are either beaten up or killed over what belongs to us,” he lamented.
In his own reaction the spokesperson of the Fulani community in the Ibarapa area, Alhaji Saliu Ibrahim told journalists who visited the Erupa in Igangan Ibarapa, that when Sunday Igboho’s came to warn the Fulani to quit the area accusing them of being behind kidnappings and other atrocities committed in the area, he did not allow the Seriki to state his own side of the story.
He argued that contrary to claims that the Fulanis had shot at Igboho and his boys came to level the allegations against them, they did no such thing.
According to him, “we know them and we know those who came with them especially people like Tunji Omolewu and Jabele, so how come we would have attacked them?
“We have been part of the area. We don’t have any other place to go. I was born here, had my primary, secondary school and higher institution education here. All my friends are Yoruba and even my two wives are from here.”
“We just don’t know where to go now but we are just appealing to Sunday Igboho to let us sit down and find an amicable solution to the issue. We are from here what we need to do is to co-operate and fish out strangers among us causing problems. We should form a committee and surveillance group that will fish out the bad Fulani and Yoruba people in our midst. ”
He said that the inhabitants in the villages, especially those occupied by the Fulani are not up to 10,000 as alleged.
“They are only accusing us. I think by now the Yoruba should trust us because we have been together for years. My father was born here and I was equally born here as well.”
He accused some traditional rulers in the area who gave land to some strange Fulani after taking money from them and as well give them chieftaincy titles as being part of the problem. “When the troubles started, they now began accusing those of us who have been living here peacefully with them as being part of the problem.
“What we would want the government to do now is to set up a combined team of the Amotekun, the Fulani and the youths who have been living here in the past 50 years and then engage all in the security of the area because security is our collective concern.”
He then identified the areas where the criminals could be coming from, saying “there is a mining site at Asunnara forest in the Ofebun area of Igangan where people from different nationalities are working. They are from Mali, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso. These are really the people who Sunday Igboho and the government should go and dislodge.”
In his own reaction to the action of Sunday Igboho, the Oyo state governor in a statement affirmed: “we won’t allow anyone to cause ethnic crisis in Oyo,” Governor Seyi Makinde declared.
He charged the new Police CP to arrest miscreants that were causing tension.
Governor Makinde also declared that his government would not allow anyone hiding under the guise of protecting Yoruba interest to cause ethnic tension and perpetrate crisis in the state.
He maintained that the war which the state and the security agencies need to wage is not against any particular ethnic group but against criminal elements, irrespective of their tribes, religions, or creed.
The governor added that his administration would not allow anyone to threaten the peace of the state by acting unlawfully and saying things that are alien to the Nigerian Constitution, noting that acts that are capable of causing chaos in the state will not be accepted.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Makinde stated these while receiving the new Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, declaring that the government will not relent in placing priority on the welfare of the officers and men of the Police Force in the state.
Makinde made it clear that his administration would continue to synergize with all security agencies in the state to fight criminals, hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribes, religions, or creed, while urging the police to arrest miscreants causing tension and threatening the peace of the state.
The governor said: “For people stoking ethnic tension, they are criminals and once you get them, they should be arrested and treated like common criminals.
“For this administration, the major pillar for us is security, because we know that all the good economic plans we have won’t be possible in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.
“So, when people say things that are neither lawful nor within the spirit of Nigeria’s Constitution, it is not acceptable here. And they cannot hide under the guise of protecting Yoruba’s interest to perpetuate chaos in the state.
“I am sure that since you came in, you must have heard about some things happening at Ibarapa axis of the state. I will still say it here that we are not after Hausa-Fulani. We are after criminals.
“We are after hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribe, religion, or creed. Those are the people we are after. If you look into the records, when we had the armed robbery incident at Okeho in Kajola Local Government Area of the state, some people were killed, some were arrested and we found out that they were Ebira from Kogi State. So, we want to go after the criminals – whether they are Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani or whoever they are,” Makinde said.
The governor equally said that his administration would continue to synergise with all security agencies in the state to fight criminal elements, adding that his government will continue to place priority on the welfare of the officers and men of the Police Force in the state.
Governor Makinde, who stated that his government would ensure that all security agencies work together to ensure a secure and peaceful Oyo State, also pointed out that the Oyo State Security Network Agency, codenamed Operation Amotekun, like federal security agencies, is working towards the same objective of securing the state.
“Amotekun here in Oyo State is working with us towards the same objective. We need intelligence to know about criminals before they even strike. It is one of the major reasons why we set up Amotekun; to be able to gather intelligence in all the wards in Oyo State.
“But the same people that demonised Amotekun are the ones now telling us that a certain ethnic nationality should leave this place.
“For us, we will ensure that all the security agencies work together. I will encourage interaction with all other agencies and once we have that synergy, we will ensure that the objective of the people going about their businesses with no fear of being molested will be attained.
“You are welcome home because we believe Oyo State should be home to you and should make you and the team as comfortable as possible. We don’t want this to be a hardship posting for you. So, your welfare and that of your officers and men are of paramount interest to us and of very high importance.
“You and your team are all coming in at a very challenging time. This is a period where false information is almost at its highest, ethnic tension almost at its highest as well. So, I will say you have your job cut out for you. We won’t make the job difficult. We will be sincere and open; we will support you.”
The governor commended the new Commissioner of Police for swinging into action immediately she resumed office, pledging that the government would give maximum cooperation and support to the security agency.
Earlier, the new Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Onadeko, said that the visit was to formally inform the governor that she has resumed fully.
She vowed that the Oyo State Police Command will secure the lives and property of the people and ensure that the people go to bed with their two eyes closed.
She said: “We are here to formally tell you that we have resumed duty. As you can see, some of us are here. So, we came with the promise that we want to make the lives and property of the people of Oyo State safe and secure. We want the people to go to bed with their eyes closed.”
She equally noted that the police officers have started the visibility policing in all the nooks and crannies of the state and have returned to their duty posts and are poised to reduce crimes to the barest minimum level in the state.
“Since we came in, we have started with our visibility policing. When I came in, I noticed that there were no policemen on the roads, maybe it was still the aftermath of the #EndSARS issue, but we have been able to talk to them. We have asked them to occupy their space because it is their constitutional duty. We have to reduce crime to its barest minimum in Oyo State,” she added.
She promised that the Police will be professional in the discharge of the duties and also work with the Makinde administration’s vision for the security of the state, even as she appreciated the governor for the provision of the SRS vehicles and the repairs the government has made on them.
Also the police station have said that maximum security measures would be put in place in Oyo State
The Commissioner of Police, Oyo State Police Command, CP. Ngozi Onadeko said she, has keenly followed development and statement, emanating from different individuals, regarding security situation in the State.
The CP stated that the command would like to associate itself with the position of His Excellency, Governor Oluseyi Makinde the Executive Governor of Oyo State, on the need for the good people of Oyo State to be calm and peaceful, as well as desist from taking laws into their hands.
The Commissioner of Police also assured the people of Oyo State that necessary strategies have been put in place, in collaboration with other Security Agencies in the State, to ensure that all residence of Oyo State are able to go about their lawful businesses and duties, without threat or hindrance.
“The Police Command with the support of Sister Security Agencies wishes to state emphatically that anyone who engages in any disturbance of the peace or any act of criminality will be brought to justice.
“The Commissioner of Police uses this opportunity to advise parents and guardians to warn their children and wards as the case may be to avoid being used by criminal elements for any acts of lawlessness.”
Interview: My concern is the total liberation of Yorubaland from the terror attacks of Fulanis — Sunday Igboho
What informed your action in the storming of Igangan over the alleged Fulani invasion, killings, rape and kidnapping of the people by bandits?
Well, they say I am not in government but they have forgotten that in the first place, I am a Yoruba man.
My concern is the Yoruba race and the rate with which Yorubaland is being invaded by bandits is alarming.
What I am after is to protect our people, the Yoruba race from being cheated.
But people are saying that is not your responsibility?
Let them say what they want to say. If the government refuses to provide security for the people, the people would rise up to defend themselves.
What about the Fulani in Ibarapa?
I do not just say or do what comes to my mind.
Yoruba people are being killed, raped, and kidnapped by the Fulani bandits and this has been very rampant in the Ibarapa and Oke Ogun areas of Oyo State.
Prominent personalities, people of note are being attacked, kidnapped and killed after ransom is collected from them.
These Fulani operate with impunity as if there is no government in place to check them.
They so much terrorise our people to the extent that they don’t go to their farms anymore. They would destroy their crops and if they complain, they are beaten or killed in their own land .I think this is injustice and it is unfair to us and we must put an end to these acts of banditry and terrorism by the Fulani. This pained me and that was why I went to the Serikin Fulani in Igangan and presented the matter before him, that the Fulani have been living with us for a long time, and as such why should they allow their people to now be killing our people?
I told him to find a solution to it but nothing was done and that informed my second visit to him that they must leave our land if they are not willing to curtail the acts of banditry by their people.
What are the cases you could recall?
There are so many. The most pathetic was the case of a Professor Fatai, a PHD holder who had gone abroad to work for many years. He brought money and established a massive farm where he planted maize, soya beans and all kinds of crops.
He employed lots of people in the area and the Fulani herders after destroying his crops would beat up his farm workers. When he went to the Seriki to inform him of what was going on, he was tied up and clubbed to death. What do we say about such open brutality and gruesome murder? When the case was reported to the police, nothing was done and with no arrests made.
Then must we fold our arms and allow this to continue?
Again, whenever they kidnapped Yoruba people, they would demand for ransoms of up to N30 million. The least they demand is N7million.
There were also instances of when they would take the ransom and still kill their victims.
The situation is so terrible that the owners of the land can’t move freely anymore. I think this is bad.
What I want is the peace of the Yoruba people, nothing more.
It is so sad that they threatened us with impunity in our Father’s land and they claim that we did not bring any land from heaven.
They said you will be arrested are you afraid or you are going to run away?
You make me to laugh. Run to where? I am a bona-fide Yoruba man with a traditional Yoruba mark on my face. I will not go anywhere else and I’m not afraid of being arrested. Why I am not afraid is that I am fighting for the rights of the people. The traditional rulers in the area who have been afraid to talk over the years are very happy with me. The leaders and traditional rulers across Yorubaland are happy and we are fighting for our inheritance.
I did not go to Igangan on my own, the traditional rulers and the people who were helpless invited me.
My people are not involved in the kidnapping and killing of Yoruba people that we have been living with for over 60 years — Seriki Fulani
In this interview, the Serikin Fulani in Igangan, Ibarapa in Oyo State, Alhaji Saliu Abubakar, he reacts to the allegations against him that he is instrumental to the acts of banditry going on in the area.
Seriki Fulani, what do you have to say about the accusation that the Fulani were involved in kidnappings in Ibarapa and Oke Ogun areas of Oyo State?
This is not true. My people are not involved in kidnappings in the area.
It is true that some Fulani were arrested but when they asked where they came from, they would say that they are from Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi and not those of us who have served, and lived here for many years.
We have been living in this place for about sixty years
My first child here is over 45 years and he has never lived in any other place.
We have been living peacefully and there has never been crisis between us and the original owners of the community.
Yorubaland is where I know as my home. My children can’t claim any other place, so how come they will now ask us to go away?
When Sunday Igboho came to me, he did not allow me to talk; he only gave us seven days to go.
His boys have destroyed my place and burnt my cars and other properties.
I think what they should have done is to come to us so that we can jointly fish out those who have been terrorising us here.
It is not also true that Yoruba people alone who were being kidnapped. My people too suffer from the same fate. The bandits always attack us too and rustle our cattle.
We are making efforts to find a solution to the matter
What the people, including Sunday Igboho, should do is to work together with us so that we can fish out the criminals.
I also want to say that the mining site here in Erupa, Igangan at Erupa is where the criminals may have come from.
At the mining site, there are different nationalities and Bororos from Nigeria, Mali, Niger and many other parts of Africa. I think that is the place that the likes of Sunday Igboho should storm and that the state government should focus on and not innocent people like us, who have been here for decades with our children, who have our own friends here and married here as well.
So what do you want to do now?
We have nothing to do. We are just appealing to them because we are law abiding citizens who respect the laws of the land and the government.
We have always been very loyal to any government in power in Oyo state, while we have our people in all the political parties.
We have always been part of governance at the local and state levels. As a result, we cannot do anything that will tarnish our image and reputation.