Notorious Fulani herdsman in Ibarapa area of Oyo State, Iskilu Wakili, has been apprehended, just as the news of the arrest created excitement in the area. Wakili was apprehended on Sunday morning after men of the Iba Gani Adams-led Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) launched an operation to arrest him and his men domiciled in the bushes of Igbo-Ora to Igangan. Farmers and residents, especially in Ayete area of Ibarapaland, had fingered Wakili and his men for being behind various crimes, including seizing hectares of farmland, raping women, kidnapping, among others.
Ayete people had continuously lived in perpetual fear with Wakili allegedly marking out a territory for himself categorized as a no-go area for both civilians and security agents. Speaking to Nigerian Tribune on the operation, the Oyo State coordinator of OPC, Mr Rotimi Olumo, said his men decided to launch the operation following reports that Wakili had allegedly become notorious for various criminalities in Ibarapa. Before Wakili’s arrest, Olumo said the OPC operatives were ‘welcomed’ into the bush with sporadic gun shots from his men to repel his arrest. While stating that Wakili and three of his men were arrested, Olumo affirmed that several others of his men escaped.
Upon arresting Wakili and three of his men, Olumo said the OPC handed them over to the police at Igbo-Ora for further interrogation and diligent prosecution. It was gathered that Wakili and his three men had been transferred from Igbo-Ora to Ibadan for further interrogation. “For about two to three months, Wakili had been perpetrating criminalities in Igbo-Ora and Ayete in Ibarapaland. People had made several attempts to arrest him, but they had proved futile.
“We spoke to our men there that it was not right for them to be there and someone keeps on terrorising the people.
“We urged them to put in their best to either get Wakili arrested and hand him over to security agencies or chase him away.
“At about 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, our men went into the bush, though they had been on surveillance around the area before then. When our men got there, Wakili and his men opened fire on us in Igbo-Ora before getting to Igangan.
“When our men gained entrance into the bush, they opened fire on us. Some of them escaped but we caught Wakili and three others and we handed them over to the police.
“No security operative joined us in the operation. It was after the operation that we handed them over to the police in Igbo-Ora so as not to be accused of taking laws into our hands,” Olumo said. There was, however, another twist to the arrest of Wakili and his men as the OPC reported that the police had arrested four of its operatives who carried out the operation. Olumo said the OPC operatives were arrested at the hospital in Igbo-Ora where, as mandated by the police, they took Wakili and his men to for treatment. He said the four OPC men have been taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Ibadan. “After we handed them over, our men were told to treat one of those arrested for being injured.
“To prevent those arrested from escaping, four of our men stayed back at the hospital. “But right there at the hospital, the police arrested those four men and brought them to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Ibadan,” Olumo said.
Before Wakili’s arrest, his second-in-command, Isiaka Muhammadu, had, over a week ago, been arrested alongside four others. Meanwhile, in a chat with Nigerian Tribune, spokesperson for the Oyo State police command, CSP Olugbenga Fadeyi, confirmed that those arrested are in police custody. In a statement subsequently released, Fadeyi said due to the frail appearance of Wakili, he has been moved to the hospital, while the other two men are being interrogated. While assuring of diligent prosecution of the case, the police spokesperson called on anyone with case against Wakili to report at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Iyaganku, Ibadan, for discreet investigation.
Fadeyi also confirmed the arrest of some OPC members who launched the operation for the arrest of Wakili, for alleged arson and murder. According to the police spokesperson, the OPC members are being interrogated for preliminary reports that, while on their operation, they set fire to the house of Wakili and got a yet-to be-ascertained woman burnt in the fire.
The police statement reads: “The Oyo State Police Command would like to inform the general public that at about 9:00 a.m. of March 7, information was received that a group of persons, (later found out to be members of the Oodua Peoples Congress – OPC), had invaded Kajola community in Ibarapa axis of the state. “The invasion was reportedly aimed at arresting one Wakili, a Fulani by tribe, who is alleged to be the sponsor and mastermind of various criminal attacks against the people/farmers of Yoruba origin in the community. “While there, the house of the Wakili in question was set ablaze, while a female (the identity of who is yet to be ascertained) was burnt in the fire and Wakili (about 75 years old and blind) with two other persons were picked up.
“The three of them are presently in the custody of the police. The Commissioner of Police has directed that Wakili (due to his frail appearance and state of health), be moved to the hospital, while others are being interrogated. Others being interrogated are the OPC members involved in arson and murder.”
Afenifere, Fani-Kayode laud Gani Adams, OPC
Meanwhile, commendations and excitement have greeted the arrest of Wakili and his men by the OPC. Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, notes that the arrest by the OPC shows how effective local initiative could be in homeland security. Afenifere, through its spokesperson, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said Wakili’s arrest by the OPC showed that Nigeria is going nowhere with a security network that shuns federalism.
“Afenifere gives tremendous commendation to OPC under Iba Gani Adams for the arrest of Iskilu Wakilu, a Fulani bandit who had been spreading terror on the people in Ibarapa area and the Nigeria Police and other security agencies were unable to do anything about him.
“The early morning peaceful arrest confirms our position on how effective local initiative can do well in homeland security.
“Nigeria is going nowhere with a security network that shuns federalism,” Afenifere said. Also, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, in a tweet, congratulated the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland and the OPC for the successful capture of Wakili.
Wakili’s arrest, signal for criminal elements to exit the South West —Iba Gani Adams
Excited at the feat of his men, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, described the arrest of Wakili as a positive signal to other criminal elements that the South-West was no longer safe for them. Adams, while speaking on the development, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Aderemi, hailed the joint security team, saying the efforts paid off, coming at a time when Wakili and his gang had made life unbearable for the people of Ibarapa and its environs in Oyo State.
While noting that the arrest was a good development and a positive signal to other criminal elements that the South-West was no longer an abode for bandits, kidnappers and criminal herders, Iba Adams said it was also a clear indication that the fight against insurgency, kidnapping and banditry needs native intelligence, information gathering and grassroots support.
OPC has inspired hope of long-suffering Ibarapa residents — Igangan group
The Igangan Development Advocates also congratulated the OPC for effecting the arrest of Wakili, who they described as a notorious leader of a violent gang that had unleashed terror on the people of Ayete, Tapa and Igangan in Ibarapa for a long time.
The group noted that the OPC, in making the arrest, had not only inspired hope among the long-suffering residents of the affected communities, but had also set a high standard for cooperation between citizens and security forces to tackle criminialities across Yoruba land.
Leader of the group, Oladokun Oladiran, decried that Wakili had practically paralysed the economic activities of Kajola, Magbeje, Gbangbangere, Konko and environs. The Yorùbá Summit Group has urged the police to consciously and conscientiously deal with the Wakili case, which is now in their care. Publicity Secretary of the group, Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, made this call in a statement on Sunday. The Yoruba group lauded the OPC for the arrest of Wakili, describing it as a pointer of the resolve of the people of the South-West to rid their land of intruders, terrorists and criminals lurking in forests.
“We commend in no uncertain terms the gallant efforts of our disciplined, committed, resourceful OPC operatives for this bloodless venture. “We, therefore, call on the law enforcement agencies to which both Wakili and the matter have been deposited into their care, to do their job, consciously and conscientiously. “And yet another subtle reminder that if any such criminal should so decide to hide on our forests to perpetuate evil, our forests also are possessed of the bona fide, to swallow these criminals up,” the statement read.
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