By Elijah Olusegun
Victims and witnesses massed out March 9 as pressure mounts from the police and security watchers asking the Oodua Peoples Congress and victims of Fulani herder-farmer crisis at Ayete to come forward with evidence of brutality a Fulani clan head allegedly committed.
And the pieces of evidence, complaints, and more allegations, pouring out, some of which the National Daily gathered, reveal atrocities the victims said the Fulani herders committed.
They incidents were mostly in 2015, and were connected somehow to the evicted Fulani leader in Oyo.
“Isikilu Wakili was working hand in hand with Salihu,” said Taiwo Adeogun.
Adeogun is the secretary of farmers associations in Ibarapaland. He told the National Daily he has been documenting Fulani herders’ atrocities for three decades, and he knows the ex-Oyo seriki Fulani backwards
Abdulkadri Salihu was evicted from his Alagolo settlement on January 21—for reasons similar to Wakili’s at Kajola on March 7. There were arson and death and shooting during the January incident, according to the National Daily investigation. A Yoruba jingoist, Sunday Adeyemo (aka Igboho) triggered the crisis then with his seven-day ultimatum to Salihu.
But the March 7 incident at Kajola was led by the OPC, the Gani Adams faction. They busted Wakili, 75, and his two sons at Kajola, Ayete, and handed them over to the police at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Iyaganaku, Ibadan, Oyo state command headquarters.
The Yoruba ethnic front staked out, and later invaded the Wakili enclave based largely on the famed banditry—AK-47 gun violence, kidnapping, raping, farm destruction—by the Fulani clan who has spent 20 years in the area.
So the police decided to detain all involved in the arrest—including three OPC members who handed the Wakilis to the police.
The reason was clear: the citizen arrest was not without resistance from the Fulani. The stand-off eventually spiraled into murder and arson that Sunday.
The police, in a press statement same day, confirmed that. Other Fulani leaders in Ibarapa also did, later. A pregnant woman, Kadi, died, and cows, too. Motorcycles, foodstuff were also torched.
On the other side, Oluwole Adedeji, the team leader of the OPC mission, denied the allegations. He said an active shooter, among the Wakilis, engaged them—testing the group’s resolve to apprehend all and hand them over unhurt to the police.
But the command’s PRO Fadeyi Olugbenga insisted the command has worked the crime scene, and has clearly stated Wakili’s settlement was burnt, and a woman killed. “If the OPC say they didn’t do it, the police will have to prove it as investigation goes on,” he told the National Daily March 12.
Ayete’s OPC leader Deji Babrinde believed his men. “We are too old to go for that kind of mission. So we sent them. And we stood by them,” he told the newspaper. He admitted, however, they have not gone to the crime scene to see for themselves.
Apparently, the police didn’t buy the OPC intervention because, by way of justification, there was no evidence: retrieved AK-47s, victims, and all others. The OPC admitted this, in a way. “We had no evidence to present when the police team came. They came for the farmers,” said Babrinde.
The group’s intervention thus appeared a wild-cat strike. That was the more reason the police initially held onto the three OPC members, charging Ibarapa people to come forward with evidence against Wakili, sick, partially blind, and had to be hospitalized.
On March 9, evidence came in torrents—right before a team of police investigators from Iyaganku.
Two deaths, including that of a police officer, were linked to Wakili’s sons in 2015 and 2019. Nothing, however, came of both cases. Salihu had the suspects’ back, according to Adeogun.
The police officers, Adeogun explained, invited the Wakilis for explanation of their involvement in a water-melon plantation destruction in 2015. “His sons later slaughtered one of the officers, Akinwale Akanfe, like a cow on October 20, 2015 at Kajola. The other police officer was injured,” said Adeogun.
Another dead victim was Ganiyu Nurudeen, 25. “He was shot with a cartridge gun at Idi Emi, Kajola, by Wakili’s sons under the umbrella of Salihu, on August 23,” he insisted.
One of the Fulani herders named in some of the criminalities was Muhammed Babangida aka Isa Dudu. He snatched Muraina Ogungbenro’s Boxer Bajaj Motorcycle at Kajola March 29, 2015. Ogungbenro is an indigene of Ayete. The following day, Isa Dudu sent his younger brother to take the stolen motorcycle to a mechanic—the younger brother of the owner—for repairs. The two were later arrested, and taken to the Criminal Investigation Department at Iyaganku. “It was Seriki Fulani who went to CID and brought them back to lbarapa North LG,” said Adeogun.
On their return, Isa Dudu and his brother became very vengeful. “Babangida maimed Ogungbenro on his farm at Ominigbo village via lgangan, same year.”
Others attacked were Oluduro Balogun, 25, and his father Oluduro Olukosi, 60. They were attacked with a machete at night at Kajola, Feb.14, 2015. There were many cases of farm destruction without compensation.
CSP Olugbenga confirmed the March 9 meeting. He said the team of investigators sent to Ayete have gathered the evidence presented against Wakili. “And the command will do discrete investigation of everything, and look at the substance in what the people presented,” he told the National Daily. “It’s not something we want to rush because somebody wants to vet the outcome.”
The painstaking investigative process is already breeding distrust.
“We gathered from reliable sources the March 9 presentation of evidence was a waste,” said Babarinde. “The Oyo command already dismissed the pieces of evidence against Wakili. That was why they asked us to bring fresh evidence.”
Suspicion has been a feature in the Ibarapa crisis. The locals distrust their leaders believed to have been bought by the Fulani herders. The locals again suspect the police. The say the law enforcers consider the Fulani criminals sacred cows. The chain continues. And it could be vicious.
In the Igangan crisis, for instance, the Asigangan of Igangan Lasisi Adeoye was almost consumed in the rage of his subjects against Salihu on January 26. He ran for his life. His subjects insisted he was compromised.
That fear and suspicion are rearing up again at Ayete.
The National Daily tried to find out on the phone what Oba Asawo of Ayete thought about the police efforts. He hanged up while the conversation steered in the direction of the March 9 meeting. Traditional leaders play that tact mostly for fear—of being misquoted or marked down by government or Fulani leaders or the locals.
Before more suspicion and rumour start flying about, Olugbenga confirmed the Wakilis are still in custody. He said the OPC members the police earlier detained were released—on health grounds after providing sureties.
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