Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and traditional rulers in the state will visit Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of the state today to deliberate on how to restore peace to Ibarapaland.
The Deputy Chairman, Oyo State Council of Obas, Oba Francis Alao, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, said the meeting was organised primarily to ensure that peace returned to the area.
Violence had erupted in Igangan, Ibarapa, on Friday when a popular Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, well known as Sunday Igboho, alongside his followers, stormed the Fulani settlement in the ancient town to eject Seriki Fulani, Salihu Abdukadir, and herdsmen accused of perpetrating crimes ranging from kidnappings, killings, rape to invasion of farmlands with their cattle.
The monarch said a team of the state government would represent the governor while a team from the office of the IGP would stand in for Adamu, noting that the Commissioner of Police in the state, Ngozi Onadeko, would be present at the meeting.
He said, “I am going there tomorrow (today) to hold a meeting with all the traditional rulers in Ibarapaland. The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State too will be there. A team from the Inspector-General of Police Office is also going to be there. The state government (representatives) will also be there.
“All we want to do is to ensure there is peace in the area for everybody to coexist peacefully. I am going in my position as the Deputy Chairman, Oyo State Obas Council; I am going on that premise and we have told all traditional rulers from the three local government areas in Ibarapaland to be there as well.
“There is an ongoing reconciliatory effort at Tede, Ago Are and Ago Amodu in Atisbo Local Government Area. I am coordinating that and everybody should sue for peace. Everybody should eschew violence and embrace peace while the security agents will do their investigation.”
The Asigangan of Igangan, Oba Lasisi Adeoye, also confirmed to our correspondent in Ibadan that he and traditional rulers from Ibarapaland would be part of the meeting,
He said, “All the Obas in Ibarapa will hold a meeting here in Igangan tomorrow (today) and the Olugbon will be here for the meeting.”
Sources said the government delegation would visit the troubled spots to assess the extent of damage.
“The delegation will also engage the youth to calm frayed nerves and ensure that peace is restored to the troubled areas,” a source told Reporters.
It is not clear as of press time who will lead the government team, but sources said Makinde had constituted a high-powered delegation among his senior officials to embark on the trip.
Sources added that a full report on the Ibarapa situation would be made public by the government and the police after the assessment tour.
OPC kicks as IGP reportedly orders Igboho’s arrest
On the heels of invasion of Ibarapaland by Igboho and his loyalists, the IG, Adamu, had reportedly ordered the state police commissioner, Ngozi Onadeko, to arrest Igboho.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, was quoted as revealing the arrest order in a report on the BBC Hausa Service current affairs programme, Ra’ayi Riga, on Friday.
“He just got off the telephone with the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police, who confirmed to him that he had ordered the arrest of Igboho, who is to be brought to Abuja,” Shehu was quoted in the report.
It added, “Igboho is among topics that have generated public discuss on social media in Nigeria on Friday since he visited Igangan in Ibarapa Local Government (of Oyo State) where he insisted that all Fulani residents in Oyo State must leave as long as kidnapping continues.
“Last week, Igboho visited the Fulani community in Igangan where he gave them a seven day ultimatum to leave the state after accusing the Fulani in the area of murder and kidnapping, among other crimes. But during his return to the area this time round, he explained what he meant.
“Mallam Garba Shehu said the government was having a hard time punishing (such) offenders because of the activities of human rights organisations. Garba Shehu said the order given by the Inspector-General of Police for now is that Igboho should be arrested and brought to Abuja to be taken to court to face prosecution.”
However, the arrest order could not be confirmed as of the time of filing this report as the Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, could not be reached.
Also, the Police Public Relations Officer in the Oyo State, Olugbenga Fadeyi, had yet to reply to calls and text messages to his mobile phone.
But the Odua Peoples Congress, New Era, described the arrest order as an unfortunate directive by the Federal Government.
Citing the incessant cases of kidnapping, rape, destruction of farmlands and killings of farmers in the Oke Ogun and Ibarapa areas over the years, the group said it was suspicious and unjustifiable that the government moved to arrest a man who demanded the exit of killer herders from Yorubaland, while allowing the hoodlums to have their way.
The National Public Relations Officer, OPC, New Era, Akinpelu Adesina, said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday that “all the self-determination groups in the South-West are behind Sunday Igboho’s action. We are in support of our fathers in the South-West. They should prepare to arrest all the Yoruba self-determination groups in South-West before arresting him. Chief Sunday Adeyemo gave a notice to quit to the killer herdsmen who infiltrated parts of the state and not the Fulani herdsmen who are doing their legitimate businesses.
“In this context, Igboho was referring to kidnappers, those killing our farmers, raping our women and destroying farmlands. By this directive, Igboho is fighting the cause of our people who were at the receiving end of the evils being perpetrated by the herdsmen.
“That was why some Yoruba groups such as the New Era Odua Peoples Congress, the Reformed OPC, Agbekoya, the Odua Youths Liberation Agenda, the Odua Alliance and the Igangan Youth Consultative Forum were on hand to give him solidarity at Igangan on Friday.”
Adesina explained that on their way to Igangan, they had stopped over at the Area Police Command at Eruwa and the Area Commander joined them to visit the neighbourhood.
He added, “On getting to the outskirts of Saki and Igangan, we met the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel and soldiers. We came down and explained to them that we were for peace. We explained to them that we were on a mission to tell the Seriki Fulani in Igangan to ask the killer herdsmen to vacate our land. We were allowed into the town and spoke to the residents, assuring them that things would take a normal shape henceforth.
“About 50 motorcyclists accompanied us from Eruwa. At Igbo Ora, the number surged to about 1,000. At Ayete, the number increased so much that we made up our minds to be cautious. We arrived at Igangan around 3pm. There was no violence in the community during our stay in Igangan. We left the town at 6:20pm. Igboho’s vehicle led the convoy. On our way out of the town, we interacted with the army.
“In Igangan, Chief Igboho appealed to Seriki to point the way out to unscrupulous killer herders who may be infiltrating their ranks. He has been staying in our midst for long, his family has been with us, hence he should be of help to the community and not serve as a mole. We didn’t utter any inciting comment during the visit.”
Reacting to the quit notice on Friday, Governor Seyi Makinde, had ordered the arrest of those fomenting trouble under the guise of protecting the interest of the people, saying, “People stoking ethnic tension are criminals and once you get them, they should be arrested and treated like common criminals.”
YCE asks Buhari to address Nigeria on crisis
As a path to resolving the herdsmen-related crises in many parts of the country, the Yoruba Council of Elders has said it is imperative for the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to address the nation.
The Secretary General of YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the atrocities committed by the herdsmen were too many.
Olajide said the utterances and body language of Buhari’s aides were polarising the country, lamenting that many people had been killed, women raped and farms destroyed by the herdsmen.
He maintained that such incidents would no longer be allowed to continue, cautioning the government on the planned arrest of Igboho.
Olajide said, “Yoruba political leadership elite must not be insensitive to what is going on and the challenges confronting the Yoruba nation in Nigeria today. Our political leadership elite, especially our governors, must appreciate the loss suffered by the raped women, orphaned children and destruction of farms in our zone.”
He added that criminal herdsmen were invading Oyo without obeying the laws of the state. “They violate our laws with impunity, carry sophisticated weapons and our political elite cannot claim ignorance of this. These people are being arrested and nothing happens to them ultimately. The Yoruba people are losing confidence in the federal security agents.
“The President must address Nigerians now, we voted for him. The statements we get from his aides are annoying and polarising the country the more. I am calling on Mr President to reassure us that he still believes in one Nigeria because the utterances and body language of his aides are making us to believe that this country belongs to one ethnic group,” he said.
Ibarapa indigenes, Miyetti Allah disagree on Igboho
Meanwhile, Oyo State Miyetti Allah has called for the arrest of Igboho for the alleged assault on Abdulkadir.
The state Chairman of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Ibrahim Jiji, said this while speaking with journalists in Ibadan on Saturday.
Jiji said many Fulani in the state were now living in fear while some of them had fled their homes to avoid attack, urging Yoruba and Fulani to allow peace reign in the state.
He said, “We are all Nigerians. We appreciate and love the governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, for saying the truth. We need to join hands together to ensure we have a peaceful society. Our people are not happy and many of them are living in fear. Some had fled their homes.
“We want justice for Seriki Fulani. All those who perpetrated the evil must face the law. They are not powerful than the government. Who is Sunday Igboho and why is he more powerful than the government.
“I have said several times that we have criminals among all the tribes and not peculiar to Fulani. Those who are suffering the injustice now are not the criminals they are hunting for. Government should do the needful to ensure peace returns to the Ibarapa axis.”
But the Igangan Development Advocates and the Yoruba Youth Socio-Cultural Association have warned that arresting Igboho could trigger fresh crisis in the area.
The Convener of IDA, Mr Oladiran Oladokun, decried the incessant attacks perpetrated by violent herdsmen.
The groups National President, Olalekan Hammed, also said arresting Igboho would make the people of the area believe that the Federal Government placed Fulani above than other ethnic groups in the country.
FG’s handling of S’West insecurity may end Nigeria – Melaye
Speaking on the lingering crisis, the representative of Kogi West Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye, called on Buhari to handle with care the tension in Yorubaland occasioned by insecurity.
Melaye in a statement sent to one of our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday warned the Federal Government to stop its current bravado style in tackling the situation if it still wanted to govern a united nation.
He said, “The Federal Government must treat the issue of the South-West with utmost caution. It is not a time to show bravado or strength. A wrong move may end Nigeria. This government is not popular enough to fight now.”
Farmers lament insecurity
Similarly, commercial farmers in Igangan under the aegis of the Igangan Agro Park Investors Association, on Saturday expressed worries over the growing insecurity in the community, lamenting that there appeared no end in sight to the menace.
President of the association, Mr Oluwafemi Abioye, in a telephone interview with Sunday PUNCH on Saturday said the security agencies were not proactive in their responses to the deadly violence.
He said, “Whereas the Oyo State Government is doing well, they need to do more in ensuring security of lives and property. For the agro park investors who are either losing their lives or investments, it has become one loss too many for us in Oyo State. You just have to see the situation in Iroko, Lanlate and Igangan; they have killed in the areas.
“There is injustice against farmers and the locals perpetrated by herdsmen. Efforts to get government attention have not yielded much result. Even when government decided to convert the deforested forest reserve for agricultural use, the investors got to the area and discovered that the problem on the ground was huge and appeared intractable. So, the investors are leaving.
“The investors were writing to call government’s attention to it, yet nobody got meaningful justice. In September 2020, the investors recounted their three-year losses to the tune of over N320m. Right now, about 15 of the investors have moved out of Igangan because it was from one loss to the another.”
Abioye said several times when police made arrests, the hoodlums were released with the influence of the Fulani leadership.
He stated, “One experience was in October last year when cattle destroyed 10 hectares of maize farm. Despite the publicity, they only paid N450,000 damages. Shortly after, the insecurity escalated to banditry. Even if the good elements among the herdsmen are doing legitimate businesses, the so-called good ones still use their cattle to destroy farmlands.
“They will say no Fulani will point out another Fulani doing a wrong thing. It was documented with the police. They said they (the perpetrators) would kill them. The bandits have infiltrated and threatened locals and farmers continuously that they would bring foreign militias to Igangan. This was also brought to the notice of the government but nothing was done before banditry and kidnapping became the order of the day.”
The president explained that residents once visited the Oyo State Secretariat, Agodi to protest against the attacks but nothing was done.
He added, “We are not for anybody or against anybody. We only want a peaceful environment to do business and that is all. We are supposed to have started opening land for farming but we can’t afford the risk. We cannot be on the farm because of insecurity. Most of the destruction was done at night.
“What we want is a mutual environment where everybody will work. This is what we thought the administration promised us when they began the anti-open grazing. The governor has refused to append his signature on the bill and we don’t know the reason.”