Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde has directed the state police command to immediately arrest masterminds of the call for the eviction of Fulani herders from the state as police yesterday took position in the troubled Igangan community, in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Sunday Adeyemo, a Yoruba youth leader better known as Sunday Igboho, had given a seven-day ultimatum to herders to vacate Igangan for their alleged role in the rising cases of kidnaping and banditry in the community.
When the ultimatum expired yesterday, Igboho visited Igangan, where he addressed a crowd of youth and insisted that the herders must vacate the town.
In his reaction to the threat, Governor Makinde declared that his administration would not allow anyone to threaten the peace of the state by acting unlawfully and saying things alien to the Nigerian Constitution, noting that acts capable of causing chaos in the state will not be accepted.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said Governor Makinde called for the immediate arrests of those stoking tension in the state, saying such people should be treated as criminals.
Speaking while receiving the newly posted Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, the governor said: “For people stoking ethnic tension, they are criminals and once you get them, they should be arrested and treated like common criminals.
“For this administration, the major pillar for us is security, because we know that all the good economic plans we have won’t be possible in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.
“So, when people say things that are neither lawful nor within the spirit of Nigeria’s Constitution, it is not acceptable here. And they cannot hide under the guise of protecting Yoruba’s interest to perpetuate chaos in the state.
“I am sure that since you came in, you must have heard about some things happening at Ibarapa axis of the state. I will still say it here that we are not after Hausa-Fulani. We are after criminals.
“We are after hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribe, religion, or creed. Those are the people we are after. If you look into the records, when we had the armed robbery incident at Okeho in Kajola Local Government Area of the state, some people were killed, some were arrested and we found out that they were from Ebira, from Kogi State. So, we want to go after the criminals – whether they are Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani or whoever they are.”
The governor equally said that his administration would continue to synergise with all security agencies in the state to fight criminal elements, adding that his government will continue to place priority on the welfare of the officers and men of the Police Force in the state.
Governor Makinde, who stated that his government would ensure that all security agencies work together to ensure a secure and peaceful Oyo State, also pointed out that the Oyo State Security Network Agency, codenamed Operation Amotekun, like federal security agencies, is working towards the same objective of securing the state.
“Amotekun here in Oyo State is working with us towards the same objective. We need intelligence to know about criminals before they even strike. It is one of the major reasons why we set up Amotekun; to be able to gather intelligence in all the wards in Oyo State.
“But the same people that demonised Amotekun are the ones now telling us that a certain ethnic nationality should leave this place.
“For us, we will ensure that all the security agencies work together. I will encourage interaction with all other agencies and once we have that synergy, we will ensure that the objective of the people going about their businesses with no fear of being molested will be attained.
Makinde had earlier on Wednesday in a state broadcast condemned the threat to evict the Fulani, while warning those behind the threat to desist or be ready to face the wrath of the law.
The new Commissioner of Police said that the visit was to formally inform the governor that she has resumed fully.
She vowed that the Oyo State Police Command would secure the lives and property of the people and ensure that the people go to bed with two eyes closed.
She said: “We are here to formally tell you that we have resumed duty. As you can see, some of us are here. So, we came with the promise that we want to make the lives and property of the people of Oyo State safe and secure. We want the people to go to bed with their eyes closed.”
She equally noted that the police officers had started “visibility policing” in all the nooks and crannies of the state and have returned to their duty posts and are poised to reduce crimes to the barest minimum level in the state.
Earlier, the Oyo State Police Command had warned residents of the state against engaging in any act of lawlessness and violence in any part of the state.
Onadeko, gave this warning in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi.
The new CP in in reference to the quit notice said the police aligned themselves with the position of the governor and said the police were ready to ensure the adequate security of every law-abiding resident of the state.
The statement read, “This is to inform the good people of Oyo State that the Commissioner of Police, Oyo State Police Command, CP. Ngozi Onadeko, has keenly followed development and statement, emanating from different individuals, regarding security situation in the “state.
“The Oyo State Police Command would like to associate itself with the position of His Excellency, Governor Oluseyi Makinde, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, on the need for the good people of Oyo State to be calm and peaceful, as well as desist from taking laws into their hands.
“The commissioner of police would like to assure the peace-loving people of Oyo State that necessary strategies have been put in place, in collaboration with other security agencies in the state, to ensure that all residents of Oyo State are free to go about their lawful businesses and duties, without threat or hindrance.
“The police command with the support of sister security agencies wishes to state emphatically that anyone who engages in any disturbance of the peace or any act of criminality will be brought to justice.”
The Oyo State Police command confirmed that Igboho was in Igangan where he was received by the youths of the time but they immediately dispersed without achieving their plan.
Igboho Addresses Youths
Meanwhile, there were reports that Igboho came to the town and was received by hundreds of youths at the Igangan Town Hall.
While addressing the youths and other supporters, he said; “What is happening will not be limited to this place, we will drive out Fulani from the entire Yorubaland. They want to be killing us. We will not accept this.”
Igboho, who also spoke with BBC, Yoruba Service, said if the government failed to secure the lives and property of its people, then they will rise to defend themselves.
“They are saying I am not in government and that I am meddling with what does not concern me. If there is government and it is not doing what it is supposed to do, the people that voted will rise up,” Igboho said.
“It’s not like I commanded the Fulani to leave our land or that I suddenly said something arbitrarily. For like two weeks now, these Fulani people in Ibarapa have been killing our people. Look at this Doctor Fatai, who went abroad for many years to work; he made his money, came back to his father’s village in Igangan, built farms and employed people to work with him. Fulani people ate the farm for him, he approached the Seriki of the Fulani that this ought not to be, and they killed him there.”
Commercial and educational activities have been put on hold as residents have remained in their homes out of the fear of being caught in clashes.
Alleging that the incessant killings, kidnappings, and destruction of farms were being perpetrated by herdsmen in Ibarapaland, Igboho last week stormed the Fulani settlements in in Igangan, and asked them to leave within seven days.
Igboho accused the Fulani community in the area of masterminding abductions, killings, and other criminal activities in the area.