Operations of an alleged armed Fulani vigilante group in Ondo State, have become a trending issue, controversy on the social media, especially an encounter earlier narrated by a human right lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, just as the state Police Command said no such group exists in the state.
Speaking on the development, the State Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, Femi Joseph, said the command was not aware of the existence of any armed vigilante group in the state.
He said as part of efforts to encourage community participating in the security of their environment, the state police command established a synergy between the local vigilante in various communities with the police in their areas.
He, however, said the local vigilante are not allowed to carry arms but said they are only to help the security operatives in the area in intelligence gathering.
He said: “I don’t know any vigilante group with identity cards and we don’t allow these vigilantes to carry arms. This is a kind of community policing and for the local people who reside in an area to work hand in hand with our men on the ground. We will surely investigate this”
Ajulo, while speaking with Tribune Online, however, said he ran into some armed vigilante group members of Fulani extraction on the road of Akoko area of the state, and accosted them and challenged them on why the move about with guns.
He explained that: “I was in Ondo State on Friday till Sunday because my mother was given a chieftaincy title as Iya Ijo of Anglican Church in Akoko. On our way back, we got to Erusu, Igashi and around Akoko South-East, that was where we saw these Fulani men carrying guns and cutlasses.
“And I remember when we had Oodua Are Ona Kakanfo meeting; I happen to be the Mayegun Are Ona Kankanfo of Yorubaland and we said anybody we see with a gun must be accosted to know what they are doing with it.
“I accosted and I challenged them on what they were doing with a gun. Those people told me they were not armed robbers or kidnappers; they said they are Miyetti Allah Vigilante Group.
“The next question I asked them is, what are you doing on the main road? They said they are in a joint patrol with the Police. I asked for whereabouts of those Policemen in a joint patrol with them. They said the policemen were not around and that they were still coming.
“I was really mad. By the time I made some calls and some policemen later joined us, From my understanding, they have been there for long. But my worry is that if there is Fulani Vigilante Group, where are the locals?”
Reacting to the development, the state Information and Orientation Commissioner, Mr Donald Ojogo, said the state government had directed security agencies in the state to investigate the matter, just as it said the state government is unaware of such identity carrying vigilante group.
Ojogo said though the state government appreciates the effort of all stakeholders in stemming down crimes in the state but said it would not tolerate any unauthorised movement by any group to take undue advantage of the current state of insecurity in the country.
Ojogo said in the statement that, “Ondo State Government observes with concern trending pictures of an identity card carrying men identified as Fulani vigilante in the Akoko area of the state.
“Various claims have been as regards the activities, duties as well as supposed mandate of these men in question.
“It is pertinent to recall that at the height of the incessant kidnap cases, the Ondo State Government took some far-reaching drastic measure which included a marching order to the law-abiding Hausa-Fulani leadership in the area to fish out criminal elements among them who took advantage of the rosy relationship between the indigenes and their law-abiding guests.
“As a measure to curb and possibly, stamp out cases of kidnap in the area, the Hausa Fulani leadership was directed to select a handful of trusted men amongst them who could serve as tour guards in the thick forest as security agencies prepared to comb the forests.
This measure yielded results.