Residents Decry Insecurity in Ibarapa land : ‘Kidnappers, killer herders still perpetrating crime from forests’

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Many would think that peace and security should have returned to Ibarapa-land after efforts by the locals to get rid of criminal elements in the area,  but barely three months after the struggle for effective security of lives and property in that area of Oyo State began, the inhabitants still complain there’s no peace or security of life and property because criminals terrorising them have changed tactics.

Investigation revealed that the conflict between herdsmen and local farmers have continued in a sort of guerrilla warfare and many crop farmers have actually abandoned their farms based on incessant attacks on them by herders.

The Chief Hunter of the seven principal Ibarapa towns of Eruwa, Lanlate, Igboora, Idere, Ayete, Tapa and Igangan, Alhaji Bilau Dare Congo, confirmed the situation to Saturday Sun during an interview with him. He said the criminals would emerge from the forest, perpetrate their evil activities and also disappear into the forest.

READ ALSO: Vacate the Forest or Face Military Wrath, Northwest Governors to Bandits

He stated that many people expected that peace would have returned to Ibarapaland after the exit of Alhaji Abdulkadir Saliu, who was until his forceful eviction by the angry youth of Ibarapa in February, this year, the Sarkin Fulani of Oyo State. The popular Yoruba activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, fondly called Sunday Igboho, had visited Ibarapa two times and held open meetings with the people before the eviction. Saliu had since relocated to Ilorin in Kwara State.

The initial assurance by the people of Ibarapa was boosted when the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) arrested Mallam Iskilu Wakili, and handed him over to the police. Wakili and the three OPC operatives that took him to a police station have been arraigned in court. They are currently being remanded at correctional centres in Oyo State.

Both Saliu and Wakili were accused of aiding and abetting kidnapping for ransom, killings, and destruction of farmland by people suspected to be foreign Fulani that invaded Ibarapaland.

Said the Chief Hunter: “Killings and kidnapping have not stopped in all the seven towns of Ibarapa. They attack farmers on their way to their farms. Many people have false information that all the Fulani in Ibarapa have been evicted. No. We still have Fulani in Ibarapa. But the criminal ones among them have not all left Ibarapa. There are many of them in the forest. Our investigation revealed that many of their colleagues have been coming in large numbers to join them in the forest to probably unleash a reign of terror on us. They are hiding in the bush.

He wondered why the Amotekun Corps personnel deployed to Ibarapa were not allowed by the government to enter into the forest.

“Also, the policemen and soldiers in Ibarapa don’t go into the forest to smoke out the criminal elements. They stay on the highways, towns and markets.

“To make matters worse, the police have been arresting us whenever they see us with firearms. But we have Fulani herdsmen going around with sophisticated firearms without licence and the police as well as other security agencies have been looking the other way. I once obtained a licence for a pump action gun, but soldiers seized it from me about one year ago. They said I did not have the right to carry the pump action rifle. Up till now, the gun is still with them.”

Asked about what he would suggest as the way forward, the chief hunter responded: “The government should give us permission to defend ourselves. We carry dane guns and they carry ‘Ibon Oyinbo’ (sophisticated weapons). But we can defend ourselves. If the government gives us permission, we can enter into the forest and fish them out. We have the capacity to smoke them out because we have at least 3,000 hunters in Ibarapaland.

Chairman of Amotekun Corps in the state, Gen Kunle Togun (retd), a former Director of Military Intelligence (DMI), said the posers would be investigated. He declined to make further comments.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the state, Mr Adewale Osifeso, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the security architecture of the three local government areas of Ibarapa has been beefed up. The security situation, according to him, is being reviewed regularly towards effective policing of the state.

He assured that no stone would be left unturned by the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs Ngozi Onadeko, to ensure adequate security of lives and property.

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