Haleem Olatunji, The CableNG
Residents of Igangan community in Ibarapa north local government area of Oyo state have alleged paying N50 million as ransom to herders.
Lawal Akeem, secretary of Igangan Development Advocates, and other natives made the allegation during a town-hall meeting with representatives of the state government, on Sunday.
The community leaders presented pictures and other evidence of ransom paid to herdsmen. They also alleged rape of 15 women by the herders.
Ngozi Onadeko, Oyo commissioner of police, and Fatai Owoseni, special adviser on security to Seyi Makinde, Oyo governor, were among representatives of the state government who visited the community to broker peace between herders and residents.
Trouble started in the community on Friday after Sunday Adeyemo, a youth leader better known as Sunday Igboho, stormed the area with his supporters, following the seven-day eviction notice he issued to herdsmen.
Some buildings and cars were set ablaze, including those belonging to Saliu Abdulkadir, Seriki Fulani of Igangan.
Makinde ordered the police to arrest anyone found stoking ethnic tension while Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), ordered that Igboho be arrested for inciting violence.
During the town-hall meeting, residents decried the destruction of farmlands by herdsmen.
Okediji Olusegun, caretaker chairman of Ibarapa north-west local council, accused the Seriki Fulani of Igangan of complicity in the kidnapping incidents in the area.
But two Fulani leaders — Idris Abubakar, Seriki Fulani of Igbo Ora, and Sule Mohammed, Seriki Fulani of Eruwa — who attended the meeting pleaded for forgiveness from residents, assuring them of peaceful coexistence.
In her remarks, the commissioner of police assured residents that justice will be served in accordance with established laws.
She asked the youth to resist taking laws into their own hands, adding that the police will investigate the allegations.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
On his part, Owoseni said the state government is taking action to end criminality in the state.
He said 51 suspected criminals linked to kidnapping and other crimes in Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa areas have been arrested and are currently in police custody.
“There are a lot of narratives that have not been given out. Everybody believes that kidnapping, assassination had taken place in Igangan and it seems the government was not doing anything,” he said.
“Truth is, 51 suspects have been in detention for various offences that bother on this kidnapping. Arrests were made. Some have been arraigned in court. Some are awaiting trial. For some, investigation is still ongoing, which we made them know. Everyone will learn lessons, especially the police officer that was accused of complicity in some of these cases.
“The CP has given that assurance that every victim will get justice and all the allegations they have made as to the Seriki colluding with criminals will be looked into.”