He had died defending his community on Monday July 1, 2019, against suspected killer herdsmen who had invaded Orin Ekiti in Ido/ Osi council area of Ekiti State. A call in the midnight made the difference. However, his people are still in a state of disbelief that Emmanuel Ilori, 69, was no more. He was reportedly brave, energetic and a community security leader. He left behind six children. He retired as an engineer from the defunct National Electric Power Authority, (NEPA) in 2000 and returned home from his Jebba base in Niger State and later became a farmer. This, however, gave him the opportunity of the role of being one of the leaders of the community’s local security outfit. His wife, Rachael, is a retired teacher. His family concluded that their breadwinner was destined to die that fateful day.
According to his first son, Gbenga: “My father had all it took to escape unhurt after he was shot with AK47 rifles severally by his killers as none of the bullets penetrated his body. He had to singlehandedly face them while other hunters that accompanied him had fled.”
The weekend which preceded his death, however, the late Ilori was at a social gathering organised by a relative. He was in the midst of his friends and relatives. One of them was Mr Dada Olufemi Lawrence. When Nigerian Tribune visited the house of the lloris, Olufemi was completely lost as he fixed his eyes on the picture of his late friend, llori’s picture.
As painful as Ilori’s death to his family and the community, his first son, Olugbenga, vowed to continue where his father stopped in protecting the community from the influx of suspected killer herdsmen.
He disclosed that it was unfortunate that security agents that came when his father’s death was reported were afraid to enter the abandoned farm settlement where the suspected killers were.
According to him, one of the hunters who called to inform his father about the presence of the strangers at the farm settlement showed him the lifeless body of his father inside the abandoned piggery which was re-constructed by former Governor Segun Oni but later abandoned.
“The settlement is now known as Orin farm settlement and was established in 1959 by Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s government. The place has about 91 buildings built by the Awolowo administration with piggery, fishery sections, among others. The administration of Segun Oni tried to rehabilitate it but it has become moribund again. The place is now a hiding place for criminals.
“From what I saw, I know that my father was stabbed with a sharp object after the gun bullets did not penetrate his body. I suspect a collaboration of some natives with the killers because they had been around and some people were supplying them water and food,” he said.
The first daughter of the deceased, Mrs Olanike Akinwumi, who corroborated the explanation of her brother, said that she never knew that her father later went out on the fateful night after they had all retired for the night. He was said to have received a call informing him of the presence of strange persons at the farm settlement and as one of the hunters, he mobilised others to confront them.
Mrs Akinwumi described her late father as a man of the people who was loved by all, saying that he was bold and never ran away from challenges. She also confirmed that she had to personally provide fuel for the vehicles brought by the security agents before they were able to go to the scene of the incident.
The wife of the deceased, Rachael, went down memory lane that some herdsmen led by one Abase had been living at the abandoned farm settlement as far back as 1959, meaning they have been there the settlement was established in 1959 by Awo? She disclosed that one pregnant woman was also butchered there last year and after her corpse stayed at the mortuary for almost eight months, she was buried and up till now, the police in Ido/Osi local government are yet to make any arrest.
She said that she got to know about the death of her husband the next day while going for morning mass in the church. The bereaved wife explained that her husband was not on hunting expedition when he was killed but was invited to confront some strange persons seen at the farm settlement.
She explained further that it was only last year that her late husband’s maize plantation of over four hectares was destroyed by cows and up till the time of his death, the owners of the cows were promising to compensate him.
Mr Olufemi Lawrence also advised that the only solution in putting an end to the crisis in the community was for the state government to revive the farm settlement, which he described as the largest so far in the state.
He said herdsmen have completely taken over the farm settlement while their cows continue to ravage plantations as well as terrorise farmers.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was among those who paid a condolence visit to the family of the deceased at Orin. Dr Fayemi, accompanied by security chiefs, directed the commissioner of police in the state to immediately set up a police post in the community as part of measures to check the menace of the herdsmen.
Fayemi, who visited the community to condole with the people, also assured that nobody would take over their land for any reason.
“Whoever violates the law and is caught in the act will face the wrath of the law, whether he is Yoruba, Fulani, Tiv or whichever tribe the person may come from. Anybody who commits crime will not go scot-free. If we don’t give the security agents around us adequate information, it will be difficult to arrest and prosecute such an offender. That is why there is need for us all to collaborate. We must play our own roles too and inform the appropriate security personnel,” he said.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by the former deputy governor of the state, Professor Kolapo Olusola and the state chairman of the party, Gboyega Oguntuwase commiserated with the people of Orin Ekiti over the killing.
Olusola described the killing as wicked and dangerous. He said that Nigeria was gradually sliding into a state of anarchy because many communities will now have to hold their destiny in their land to confront the rampaging herdsmen.
Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, representing Ekiti North at the Senate and Bishop Felix Ajakaye of Ekiti Catholic diocese joined others to condole the family of the deceased.
Adetunmbi described as unfortunate for a peaceful community like Orin to experience such a tragedy and therefore, charged security agents to unravel those behind the crime and bring them to book.
The lawmaker stated that the issue of a state police needs to be revisited to put an end to insecurity.