We have been forced to pay about N50m ransom, Ibarapa community cries out
•As Fulani heads ask for forgiveness, assure of peaceful coexistence
INDIGENES of Igangan community in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, on Sunday, recounted how they had been forced to pay about N50 million in ransom for wanton cases of kidnapping in the area.
Beyond being victims of kidnapping, the residents of Ibarapa communities also recounted regular experience of invasion of their farms and raping of their women by herders.
Secretary of Igangan Development Advocates, Lawal Akeem, among other indigenes of the community, made these disclosures when a delegation of the Oyo State government and the Commissioner of Police, Mrs Ngozi Onadeko, paid an on-the-spot visit to troubled communities in Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun areas of the state.
Akeem particularly fingered the Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Alhaji Saliu Abdukadir, for complicity in different cases of criminality in Ibarapa zone.
The caretaker chairman of Ibarapa North-West Local Council Development Area, Okediji Olusegun, also corroborated the allegations levelled against the Seriki Fulani of Igangan, saying that the traditional ruler had been fingered in the series of security challenges in the area many times.
Another resident, Taiwo Adeagbo, said no fewer than 15 women had been raped in recent weeks.
On his part, a member of the state House of Assembly, Honourable Peter Ojedokun, decried that the peace in Ibarapaland was punctuated when herders began attacking members of the community on their farms, kidnapping persons and committing crimes.
The interaction in Igangan saw two Fulani leaders, the Seriki Fulani of Igbo Ora, Alhaji Idris Abubakar and the Seriki Fulani of Eruwa, Alhaji Sule Mohammed, ask for forgiveness from those offended, adding that they are ready to facilitate a peaceful coexistence in Ibarapaland.
Addressing the gathering of traditional rulers, government officials and Fulani leaders in Igangan, Commissioner of Police, Onadeko, sued for peaceful coexistence.
While calling for the cooperation of all and sundry with the police, she assured of a conclusive investigation into cases brought to her notice.
Onadeko said: “We have come to assess and listen to you over the incident that happened. I want to appeal to every one of us to be calm and ensure there is peace. If there is no peace in the community, there won’t be growth and development.
“I want to appeal to the youth. We have listened and they have interpreted all your complaints and I want to say you should not spoil your case by using force. We are a new team. Bring out all the cases you have, put them in an orderly manner and we will make sure that justice is done.
“So, I want to enjoin all of you to be peaceful and live with one another in a peaceful manner. If we live in peace in this community, we should be able to identify kidnappers, robbers and rapists. It does not matter where you come from – whether you are Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa. Actually, we have the good and bad ones. Criminality is not only ascribed to a particular ethnic group, it cuts across all the ethnic groups.”
Also speaking at Igangan, a retired commissioner of police, Fatai Owoseni, said the state government was working closely with the police to fish out criminal elements.
He disclosed that 51 suspected criminals linked to kidnapping and other crimes committed in Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa areas had already been arrested, adding that while some had been charged to court, others would soon be arraigned. Owoseni also appealed to community leaders, youths and Hausa-Fulani residents to eschew violence and live in peace.
Speaking specifically on investigations and arrests, Owoseni said: “There are a lot of narratives that have not been given out. Everybody believes that kidnapping, assassination had taken place in Igangan and it seems the government was not doing anything.
“Truth is, 51 suspects have been in detention for various offences that bother on this kidnapping. Arrests were made. Some have been arraigned in court. Some are awaiting trial. For some, investigation is still ongoing, which we made them know. Everyone will learn lessons, especially the police officer that was accused of complicity in some of these cases.
“The CP has given that assurance that every victim will get justice and all the allegations they have made as to the Seriki colluding with criminals will be looked into.”
The delegation, which also visited Ago Are and Tede communities, which got engulfed in communal clashes at the weekend, held peace parleys at the Ago Are town hall and the palace of the Onitede of Tede, Oba Rauf Oladoyin. Onadeko appealed for peace between the two communities, as she promised to host a peace meeting in her office before the end of the week.
The Olugbon of Orile Igbon and deputy chairman of Oyo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Francis Olusola Alao, who was also in Igangan, Tede and Ago Are, appealed for peace, insisting that the state could only develop in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence.
Other traditional rulers at the Igangan peace parley held at the town hall included the Asigangan of Igangan, a representative of the Eleruwa, the Olu of Igbo Ora and others from adjoining communities in Ibarapaland.
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