It was a black Friday at Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State as hundreds of residents led by Yoruba nation ‘agitator’, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Igboho, attacked a Fulani settlement in the town.
Mr Adeyemo had earlier issued an ultimatum to Fulani community in the Ibarapa axis of the state to vacate the area or produce the suspected kidnappers and murderers among the Fulani.
He alleged that the killings and kidnappings in the area are being perpetrated by some Fulani who are known to the Fulani community leadership.
The seven-day ‘quit notice’ to members of the Fulani community elapsed on Friday. Mr Adeyemo and his supporters visited the community to eject the head of the Fulani community, the Seriki Fulani, Salihu Abdukadir, and members of the community in Igangan.
This is despite the warning by Governor Seyi Makinde, in a broadcast, that he would not “make any law-abiding resident of Oyo State feel unsafe in their homes, farms, or business places. We are aware of some people circulating flyers and giving people ultimatums to leave their land. This is totally unacceptable and will not be condoned.”
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which I swore to defend and protect, guarantees freedom of movement in Section 41(1), such that citizens are free to reside in any part of the country without fear. We are determined to preserve that right in Oyo state.”
Mr Adeyemo, however, defied Mr Makinde’s warning by storming Igangan community with fully armed youths. Hundreds of residents of the area, apparently concerned about the security situation, trooped out to welcome them.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Adeyemo accused the state governor of threatening him with soldiers.
“When our people were being kidnapped and killed, there was no soldier deployed to secure them and now the governor is threatening us because we took a bold step to defend our people”.
Sources in the community said that the violent protesters upon getting to Igangan went to the house of the Seriki Fulani, Mr Abdukadir, and set it ablaze.
Properties worth millions of naira including vehicles were also destroyed during the raid that occurred on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Mr Adeyemo could not be reached as of the time of this report as his telephone number indicated that he was out of reach.
“As we speak, we are in the bush. Our cars, numbering about 11, have been burnt. Some of my children sustained injuries and we are looking for a way to get them to hospital. My children have left their houses for the bush. We need the government to help us. Police, Operation Burst and other security agencies were there when they set my house ablaze”, he was quoted.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Ibarapa, Muhammed Bello, had earlier retorted that it was wrong for Mr Adeyemo to associate all Fulani herdsmen with criminality.
“We all want a peaceful environment. One of us, Alhaji Anji was kidnapped twice. The kidnappers asked for N3 million but he was able to raise half of it with the promise that if released, he would work hard to get their balance. After he was freed, the kidnappers were calling him with different lines, he went to report at police station thinking he had regained freedom.
“But to everybody surprise, Anji was kidnapped again and was beaten mercilessly by the same set of people until he paid the balance. So, this is to tell you that even Fulanis are also affected”, he said then.
When contacted on the incident, the Oyo State police spokesperson, Olugbenga Fadeyi, did not respond to calls and text messages.
But on Friday, Mr Makinde ordered the new police commissioner in the state, Ngozi Onadeko, to treat those fueling ethnic tension as criminals.
He gave the order while playing host to the new police chief at the Agodi State Secretariat.
“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 is of paramount 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, open and support you.”
“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-Fulanis. We are after criminals,” he said.