Neighbours at war over security fence in Ibadan

Fateru and Ajinde are neighbouring communities in Oluyole Local Government Area of Oyo state. But the communities are at each others throat over the erection of a security fence, leading to the arraignment of some executives before the court. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE reports.

 

In many areas in Nigeria, the security situation has led to many communities taking proactive steps to secure their areas by themselves to save the residents from bandits and other forms of danger. This also happened in Fateru community in Oluyole Local Government Area of Oyo State. But the step did not give them the peace they envisaged, as it did not receive the accolades they expected from their neighbours, Ajinde community.

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For the residents of Ajinde community, the security fence is an infringement of their rights and a restriction of their free movement and can consequently, not be allowed to stand as many of them had to pass through Fateru to access their homes. This is the genesis of the crisis that has ravaged the communities for months leading to the arrest and arraignment of some executives of the Ajinde community for offences bordering on malicious damage, suspected gun running and security threat.

The residents of Fateru community, under the umbrella of the Irepodun Landlords/ Landladies and Tenants Association, had in a bid to enhance security in their area, had mounted barricades and barriers on routes that they considered porous; routes the criminals use to penetrate and exit their community but their neighbours took exception to the action.

“On Thursday, January 24, 2019, leaders in the community were supervising the construction of a fence to block a porous route when executives of the neighbouring community, Ajinde 2 Landlords’ Association, led by their chairman, Mr Olorode and two others; Legba and Alleluyah came to disrupt our communal effort to beef up our area. We protested and when they saw we were resolute, they invited the police from Elebu Division but when the police came, they impressed it on both sides, the need to live in peace,” they stated.

The fence that caused controversy.

At that point, the police refused to take sides; rather, they emphasised the need for the communities to live in peace and mutual understanding to enable them work together  to fight crime and criminality.

But contrary to the belief that the matter had been resolved, the issue just started. The security fence was demolished on the evening of the same day by unknown people. And due to the threat earlier made by the Ajinde executives led by Mr. Olorode, they were the main suspects.

The Fateru elders prevailed on their people not to embark on any self-avenging activity with a promise that the general body would takethe matter up following the provisions of law. Though, they followed the laid down processes, the people remained unhappy that their efforts were destroyed. That was the beginning of enmity between the two communities.

The Fateru executives wrote a petition to the state Commissioner of Police, asking for the matter to be investigated and appropriate action taken while also alleging that aside wanton destruction of their property, they raised the al;arm about their safety, “especially with the way booming of guns is heard occasionally towards the neighbourhood of Ajinde whom we strongly believe are in possession of unlicensed guns which constitute great danger and insecurity of lives and property in the community.”

Following this, the police arraigned three men; Lookman Olorode (56), Oladimeji Emmanuel (66) and Alleluyah Gbenga (52) on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy to damage, malicious damage and conducting themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace in a suit delineated MI/152c before the Magistrate Court 3 sitting at Iyaganku in Ibadan.

The boundary of the two communities.

Part of the charge read: That you, Lookman Olorode, Oladimeji Emmanuel and Alleluyah Gbenga, on 24th January 2019, at about 07.47pm, at Ajinde/Fateru area, Liberty Academy, Ibadan, in Ibadan Magisterial District, did conspire among you, to damage an erected security fence and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 517 of the Criminal Code Cap 38 Vol. II Laws of Oyo state Nigeria 2000.”

They were also alleged of doing malicious damage to an erected security fence valued at N500, 000 at the same date, time and place, committing a crime contrary to Section 451 of the Criminal Code Cap 38 Vol. II Laws of Oyo state Nigeria 2000 and also conducting themselves in a way that is likely to cause breach of peace of the community thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 249 (d) of the Criminal Code Cap 38 Vol. II Laws of Oyo state Nigeria 2000.

They had at the time pleaded not guilty and Magistrate O. O Ogunkanmi granted them bail on self-recognition. Since January when the case started, the court had continually steered parties towards amicable resolution but the Ajinde residents had reportedly remained adamant.

But at the last hearing on Thursday, Magistrate Ogunkanmi informed them of the hazard of living in a community devoid of peace and mutual understanding; asking them not to cause unnecessary trouble for the coming generation, Magistrate pointed out that if Fatertu community was ready to put a man at the gate to man it, it should be open every time the people want to pass, the action is covered by the provisions of law.

They agreed to work out modalities on paying for the damage and working together for peace to reign. The court adjourned for settlement. Whether the communities will reach an agreement or fail again like in previous efforts, only time will tell

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