Revealed: Why Amotekun, Sunday Igboho’s ‘army’ can’t halt Ibarapa killings, kidnappings

Posted by News Express | 22 May 2021 | 858 times

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When Chief Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a. Sunday Igboho stormed Ibarapa, Oyo State recently to declare his readiness to fight the killings and kidnappings allegedly being perpetrated by some criminally minded herdsmen, not a few people thought that an end had come for the killer herdsmen and their evil deeds. Many months after, the agrarian community has continued to witness killings and kidnappings even in spite of the presence of the Amotekun Corps, prompting GBENGA ADERANTI to examine why it is difficult to stop the heinous crimes.


Who will end the killings and kidnappings in Ibarapa? That is the question on the lips of concerned citizens as the heinous crimes allegedly perpetrated by criminal minded herdsmen have continued in spite of the creation of the South West Security Network codenamed Amotekun, and the threat by a group of youthful Yoruba irredentists led by Sunday Igboho to wipe out all the criminally minded herders in the area.

Rather than the crimes abating, their perpetrators have only changed their modes of operation.

Although Igboho and his group appear to have succeeded in driving kidnappers out of Igangan area, all they have done is to relocate to some small neighbouring communities from where they now launch their attacks clandestinely.

The development has adversely affected economic activities in the area as the farmers in the highly agrarian community have chosen to stay away from their farms since many of them who had risked visiting their farms ended up being kidnapped or killed.

Numbered among the unfortunate farmers was an Ayete based farmer, Rasak Jamiu, who only regained his freedom from the kidnappers’ den about three weeks ago after his family members had paid half a million naira as ransom. Although he has breathed the air of freedom for more than 21 days now, Jamiu, his two children aged between 10 and 12 years and other family members are yet to recover from the trauma and financial burden they incurred from the experience.

Although Jamiu was well aware of the huge risk it had become to go to the farm in Ibarapa area because of the presence of the herdsmen killers and kidnappers, the need to provide food for his family members compelled him to brace the odds and went to the farm with his two daughters. Unfortunately, he was confronted with a situation most residents of Ayete dread like leprosy—an encounter with AK-47 wielding herdsmen.

Jamiu recalled that he and his children were working in his farm when four gun-wielding men accosted him from nowhere, proudly telling him that they were kidnappers. Before he and his two daughters on the farm knew what was going on, they were rounded up by the gunmen and taken to their hideout. They had spent two days with the kidnappers before their family could rally to raise the sum demanded as ransom.

“They came to my farm nowhere and introduced themselves as kidnappers. I asked them what they wanted but they said I should not ask them any question,” Jamiu said.

He recalled from their conversations, their abductors sounded more like a genre of Fulani people called Bororo. He said their abductors later contacted his family members through his phone and demanded N5 million as ransom.

He said for the two days that he and his daughters spent in the kidnappers’ den, they were made to sleep in the open in the forest without food or water while the negotiation with his family members was ongoing.

Jamiu, who spoke with our correspondent reluctantly, said he had put the experience behind him and put his faith in God rather than the police or the media, because he said the police at times doubt the people of the community when they file reports about kidnappings and killings.

Jamiu said, for instance, that he was shocked to read that the police doubted the claim that some commuters were abducted on Eruwa-Igboora Road recently. “Do you think people would report that they were abducted if they were not? Or a community would report that three people were killed when they were not?” he queried.

Urging the government to provide security for the citizen he said: “We are in a state of hopelessness as nobody in the community can go to the farm anymore.”

Asked how the family managed to raise the sum the kidnappers demanded as ransom, Jamiu said they were hell bent on collecting N5 million because they were unaware of the family’s financial condition.

“They embarked on serious pleading, telling them that we would never be able to raise that kind of money,” he said.

“Eventually, the kidnappers realised that we were bad business after all, as we were not even worth N1 million. They were aware of how my family members were begging for one thousand and two thousand naira all over the place. That was when they collected the N500,000 that was raised.”

He said his children had become paranoid after the incident. “Even the adults are no more going out. Everybody has chosen to stay indoors,” he said.

Jamiu warned public office holders to be prepared for the worst if the current state of insecurity persists and hunger bites harder, saying that the people may be left with no choice but to lay siege to their homes and offices. Jamiu believes there is very little the various vigilance groups can do about the widespread insecurity in the land even as he blamed the continued escalation of kidnappings and killings in that axis of Oyo State on the government’s double standards.

“If some people kill other people, nobody sees anything bad in it. But if the people who are being killed try to defend themselves, it becomes a crime. That is why I told the DPO here not to ask me about anything.

“I thank God that I am still alive. Since the issue of kidnapping started, how many of the people committing the crime have been arrested or prosecuted?”

Narrating how Jamiu was freed from the kidnappers, a member of the family, Akeem (surname withheld), said it was trying times as the family made efforts to raise the sum of N500, 000 demanded by the kidnappers.

According to him, it took serious pleading for the kidnappers to come down from the N5 million they initially demanded.

“The money was raised by the family members in churches, mosques and from friends in the community. The kidnappers said that nobody could send them away from the Southwest and even vowed to come back to kidnap the traditional ruler of the community.”

Three weeks ago, two hunters from the Ibarapa community were said to have been killed in less than seven hours intervals in Ayete and Tapa. Earlier in the month at Idiyan, another agrarian community in Ibarapa North, three people, namely Kabiru Oladimeji, Kazeem and Soka were also kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded N10 million ransom.

A source said the victims would have been four if one of them had not escaped. The three that were kidnapped were released after payment of ransoms.

Last month, some suspected herdsmen were said to have killed one Muftau Babarinde, a 56-year-old farmer. The incident was said to have occurred at Konko village in Ibarapa North Local Government Area. Babarinde was said to have been waylaid around 7pm while coming back from his farm.

Why killings, kidnappings won’t abate

While efforts are being made to stop the incidents of killing and kidnapping around the country, the twin evils may be very difficult to stop in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State. One of the community leaders, who pleaded anonymity, said the Amotekun Corps and vigilante groups saddled with the task of arresting the trend can do little or nothing because they are ill equipped for the job.

The source also told The Nation that some of the leaders of Amotekun in Ibarapa are working in cahoots with the evil herders. He said although he believes that not all herders are criminals, it is difficult to determine those who and those who are not.

The source also alleged that some of the leaders of the Amotekun Corps have interest in cattle business.

“In fact some of the cows you see roaming belong to some of the leaders of Amotekun. The question is where do you draw the parallel when a crime is committed? Would these Amotekun leaders move against their own interests? Those are the questions the state government should ask itself.”

In a claim that sounded like a confirmation of Ibarapa Amotekun leaders’ interest in cattle business, the Secretary of the farmers union in Igangan, Mr. Taiwo Adeagbo a.k.a. Akowe Agbe, said that when some of the herdsmen evicted from the community were leaving, they returned some cows belonging to one of the leaders of Amotekun to him.

“It will be difficult for the Amotekun to perform well here because the majority of Amotekun leaders were involved in one business or the other before they joined the Amotekun Corps.”

He disclosed that the crisis between Amotekun and some herdsmen in Tapa and Ayete was as a result of criminal herders protesting arrest by Amotekun.

“The herders claimed that they were all in the business together, and it was because the leaders had joined Amotekun, that was why they were being attacked.”

Adeagbo described Amotekun in Ibarapa North as “a failed project,” saying the organisation has been politicized while vigilance groups are “doing well.”

Speaking with The Nation, the Convener of Igangan Development Advocates, Comrade Oladiran Doku, confirmed the recent killings in Tapa and Ayete, saying that the killings in Igangan had been arrested to a certain extent.  According to him, it would be difficult to totally eradicate the activities of the criminal elements in that axis of Oyo State.

He said: “If you understand the manner criminal herders operate, you will understand that it is not something we can easily arrest. It is like talking about armed robbers; you can’t totally stop armed robbery in spite of the security measures you put in place. The way these criminally minded herders operate is very similar to that.”

He also said it would be difficult to stop the criminal herders in the community because of the topography and the geographical arrangement of the community. Oladokun said: “The settlement is agrarian. When I say Igangan, it is not just a town; it has farm settlements that surround it. The farm settlements are many, and the way they are arranged makes it very difficult for the police to manage.”

According to Oladokun, the farm settlements are vulnerable to attacks because “most herders can hide in the bush for months.

He said: “I’m sure the ones you heard were killed in Tapa and Ayete, if you investigate very well, they were not killed inside Tapa or Ayete; they were killed in their farm settlements. Which security is covering those farm settlements? That is the question.

“How many people will enter those forest paths to stay with those people in their farm settlements in order to secure them? Do they have police stations there?”

Oladokun said rather than use the police to arrest the criminals in the farm settlements; government should put local hunters on its payroll.

He said: “We are in an extreme situation, we need to apply uncommon laws; laws that we wouldn’t have considered. Putting local hunters on the payroll should be something the government should think about. It has got to that stage. Only local hunters can go to those farm settlements and start to parade those areas.”

He said the Amotekun Corps and the Nigeria Police cannot fight the battle.

Lekan Ojo, a security expert, shares Oladokun’s views. He believes that the deployment of members of the Amotekun Corps in the region is an effort in futility.

Ojo said: “The people leading the real fight against kidnapping and other vices around that area are not the security team of Amotekun. Sunday Igboho and his men with the support of the OPC are the people leading the battle in that axis.”

He said if the OPC and Sunday Igboho’s group had been working with the state government, there would have been success in the battle against criminal elements in that axis.

Sharing the opinion of Akowe Agbe, he believes that there “is a political separation between both sides. The governor of Oyo State sees Sunday Igboho and his men as people that are not supporting him politically, so he is not supporting them too. That is the area I see that it has been politicised. That is why there is no progress in the fight against the thing in that area.”

Ojo believes that the success recorded by Amotekun in Ondo was because the governor gathered his men in Amotekun and with the community.

“But the same cannot be said of Oyo State. The Amotekun in Oyo State are made up only of the people that are loyal to the governor. Those people that are loyal to the governor are not permitted to work with Sunday Igboho and the vigilante team; he sees them as enemies. That is why there cannot be success around that area.”

He advised that the Amotekun Corps should work with the people in that community who are not wearing the uniform of Amotekun and also the local vigilance men in that axis. “They still need to work with those people that are loyal to Sunday Igboho,” he added.

Ojo said the Yoruba leaders in the Southwest have to come together and forget their differences in order to win the war against insecurity in the region.

He said: “Amotekun cannot function without a united front. There must be a central authority where all of them bring their reports to. But what we have today is that we have Oyo Amotekun, Ekiti Amotekun, Ondo Amotekun, Osun Amotekun and Ogun Amotekun. With this, they can’t function well. They must go back to the drawing board.

“There must be a central purse where Yoruba states, companies and others are advised to contribute money into as a pool from where they can pay them the same salary.”

A community leader in Igangan, Pa Ganiyu Adeoye, said although members of the Amotekun Corps are working hard to curtail criminal activities in the area, the challenge still remains that they do not have the equipment needed to prosecute the war against highly sophisticated kidnappers.

According to him, while Amotekun constantly combs the forest, the criminal herders also keep running. “The community is contributing for those that are combing the forests so that it will help in their upkeep. That is the only support we can give them,” he said.

Giving an insight into why it will be difficult to tame the herders in the Southwest, a legal practitioner and the General Secretary of Oduduwa Proclaiming Group, Barrister Tayo Douglas, said in addressing the issue, we have to consider the politics of ethnicity and tribal jingoism that is being introduced to the whole scenario.

He insisted that the issue of herders terrorising the people of Oke-Ogun did not start recently.  He drew the attention of The Nation to an incident that occurred about 17 years ago, which assumed ethnic colouration.

According to him, the people of that area took their destinies into their own hands by resisting killing and rapping because the police could not help them. But some leaders of the herders became uncomfortable and stormed Oyo State. It became a serious argument between the Oyo State governor then and some of the northern leaders.

“There is certainly something we are yet to know concerning this unwarranted and senseless killing, raping and kidnapping of people by this so called herdsmen and bandits. It can never be for the sake of ransom alone. It must have some political and ethnic undertones.

“If the police who are seen as the custodians of security are helpless under this very circumstance, how then do we expect Amotekun or any vigilance group to function?” Douglas asked.

He blamed some of the Yoruba leaders for allowing the killings and kidnapping to get to this level before they reacted. According to him, if the people had resisted before now, there was no way the criminal elements would have been emboldened.

He said: “The only language a criminal understands is meeting force with force; nothing more.

“I want to believe you can now read another ethnic dimension into why the incessant and unprovoked herdsmen’s attack will continue in the Southwest for a long time, unless the people organise themselves and put a stop to all this madness.

He believes that Amotekun has not been able to function very well because some people never wanted it from the outset. “Amotekun was never seen by the ethnic chauvinists as a child of necessity, it is to them a Yoruba agenda meant to attack others.”

Douglas also blamed the Southwest governors because some of them prefer to keep quiet and not to appear as playing opposition to the federal government because of some dire consequences.

“The fear of the  state of  emergency being  imposed on their states, the fear of losing election and the fear of the federal government  unearthing some compromised stance that  brought some of them into power has made the man in them to die in the face of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s sobriquet of tyranny and oppression.

“If what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, why should the Southwest governors be afraid to equip and arm Amotekun outfit in a manner similar to those local vigilance groups and other outfits so equipped in the north?” (The Nation)


Source: News Express

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