The delegation of the Oyo State Government, comprising state officials and the new Commissioner of Police in the state Command, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, on Sunday, visited hotspots in Igangan, Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun areas to conduct on-the-spot assessment of the areas.
Their visit was in response to the tension in the community which resulted in the eviction of Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Saliu Abdulkadri, and his family members as well as the torching of his properties.
They eventually held a town hall meeting with members of Igangan community which included the Alaafin of Oyo representative, the vice chairman of Obas in Oyo state from Ogbomoso, officials of the NSCDC and youths bearing placards with inscriptions such as ‘Seriki must go.’
At the meeting, the Secretary of Igangan Development Advocates, Lawal Akeem, said the people were tired of the antics of the Seriki Fulani, Alhaji Saliu Abdukadir, whom he accused of complicity in different cases.
He also said that the community had been forced to pay about N50 million in ransom for different cases of kidnapping, while also accusing Fulani herders of regularly vandalising farms and raping women of Igangan community.
Another youth in the town, Taiwo Adeagbo, said that no fewer than 15 women have been raped in recent weeks.
A member of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Peter Ojedokun, also told the delegation that the peace in Ibarapa land had been stirred by the Fulani herders in Igangan with the incessant attacks of members of the community on their farms, kidnappings and other crimes.
The Caretaker Chairman of Ibarapa North-West Local Council Development Area, Okediji Olusegun, also corroborated the allegations leveled against the Seriki Fulani of Igangan, saying that the Seriki has been fingered in the series of security challenges in the area many times.
While presenting evidences such as photographs and videos of brutality by Fulani herdsmen on farmers, kidnapping and assassination to the commissioner of police, the entire Igangan/Ibarapa community unanimously agreed that the Fulani herdsmen must leave their community.
Two Fulani leaders, the Seriki Fulani of Igbo Ora, Alhaji Idris Abubakar, and the Seriki Fulani of Eruwa, Alhaji Sule Mohammed, solicited for forgiveness, assuring the forum that they would facilitate peaceful coexistence in Igangan and Ibarapa by extension.
The Commissioner of Police, who led senior Police officers, including Deputy Commissioners of Police and Mobile Police Commanders on a tour of Igangan, Tede and Ago Are communities urged the residents to toe the path of peace.
She expressed the readiness of the Police to carry out a thorough investigation of the matter to ensure justice for victims of kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and other crimes committed in the areas.
While addressing traditional rulers, government officials and Fulani leaders in Igangan, Onadeko said, “We have come to assess and listen to you over the incident. I want to appeal to everyone of us to be calm and ensure there is peace. If there is no peace in the community, there won’t be growth and development.
“I want to appeal to the youth. We have listened and they have interpreted all your complaints and I want to say you should not spoil your case by using force. We are a new team. Bring out all the cases you have, put them in an orderly manner and we will make sure that justice is done.
“It does not matter where you come from – whether you are from Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa. Actually, we have the good and bad ones. Criminality is not only ascribed to a particular ethnic group, it cuts across all the ethnic groups.”
The Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Security, Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni (retd.), who led the government’s delegation, urged community leaders, youths and Hausa-Fulani residents to eschew violence and live in peace.
Stating that no one should take laws into their hands, Owoseni stressed the need for the people to be vigilant in order to identify criminal elements among them for prosecution. He debunked insinuations that the Governor Seyi Makinde-led government had abandoned the people to their fate, adding that at least, 51 suspected kidnappers, rapists and bandits from the Ibarapa and Oke Ogun axes are currently in police net.
Owoseni, who said, “If you see something, say something,” added that government would ensure that justice prevails in the communities.
The Olugbon of Orile Igbon, Oba Francis Alao, who is also the Deputy Chairman of Oyo State Council of Traditional Rulers, appealed for peace, saying that the state can only develop in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence.