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A fresh brutal attack on Igangan, Oyo State, by unknown gunmen has caused villagers pain and left numerous property in ruins.
An unusual violence erupted again in Igangan, epicentre of herdsmen atrocities in Oyo State and one of the worst hit areas in the South-West. The gunmen who invaded one of the seven communities in Ibarapaland left tears, sorrow and blood in their trail.
It was gathered that the gunmen went on the rampage, killing and torching property before some brave but poorly armed hunters managed to halt the reign of terror.
Residents told PUNCH that they were woken up by the sound of the firepower of the gunmen who struck between 11pm and 3am. It was gathered that the petrified residents hid in their houses as the hoodlums destroyed houses, vehicles and business locations.
An activist in Ibarapaland popularly known as Akowe Agbe, Mr Taiwo Adeagbo, told our correspondent through a WhatsApp chat while the attack was on around 12midnight on Sunday that war was ongoing in Igangan.
He said, “At last, notorious terrorists are now waging war on Igangan. There are shooting everywhere and at everyone. Heavy shootings were ongoing and they are burning houses and vehicles. War is going on in Igangan and it is serious.’’
At 2:40am, Akowe Agbe sent another chat that the ‘war’ was still raging, adding that many had been killed by the attackers. He said, “I thank God almighty for protecting me and my family but they have killed many people. I cannot say how many lives have been wasted now until later this morning.”
Akowe Agbe chatted again at 3:12am that the shootings had reduced, stating that by 5:03, about 10 persons were killed including some of the attackers.
By Sunday morning, residents woke up to the corpses of their relatives, friends and neighbours who died in the midnight attacks.
The youth organised a search party and combed the nearby bushes for the injured and the corpses of their kinsmen. Emotions ran high as families mourned their dead, the injured were rescued and taken to the hospital. Business owners were shocked to see their goods and shops in ruins.
Many residents believe the attack was a reprisal. They accused the then Sarkin Fulani of Igangan, AbdulKadir Salihu, of masterminding the attack. Salihu fled the town in January following the ultimatum given to him by Chief Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho. Many people in Igangan accused Seriki of perpetrating killings, rape, kidnappings and farm destruction in the area but he vehemently denied the allegations.
Igboho went to the town on January 15 and went to the residence of Salihu to warn him to stop his alleged atrocities against the people. He returned to the town at the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum he gave to the man. Salihu was said to have left on the eve of January 22 but his residence was razed by an angry mob after Igboho visited the town on the day the ultimatum expired. Igboho had since denied having a hand in the arson.
Reacting to the allegation, Salihu, who spoke with journalists in Ilorin, Kwara State on Thursday, said, “I want to tell the whole world that my family and I were not involved in Igangan crisis since the crisis began about four months ago, we have relocated from Igangan.”
However, the Convener Igangan Development Advocates, Oladiran Oladokun and other residents accused Salihu’s sons of masterminding the attack. He said Ibrahim Salihu threatened to revenge the chasing away of his father from Igangan. He said Ibrahim issued the threat on Facebook.
The Chairman, Ibarapa North Local Government Area, Lateef Akorede, in an interview with our correspondent also said the attack on Igangan could be a reprisal as some residents were claiming.
Akorede said, “We can say the attack was a reprisal but we are not sure. That is why we have to be cautious and allow security agencies to carry our thorough investigation into the attack. Our people who saw two of the corpses of the attackers killed during the invasion identified one to be one of Salihu’s aides. He was not his biological son but he was one of the people he employed to herd his cattle.
“The other corpse was also identified to be one of (Iskilu, a Fulani warlord) Wakili’s aides. He too was not Wakili’s biological son but he worked for him before he (Wakili) was arrested. If they accused the two men of being behind the attack, they could be right but the police will do their job.”
One of the victims of the attack, Mu’ali Oguntowo, who lost goods worth millions of naira to the attack accused Salihu’s son of responsible for the attack. Speaking to Saturday PUNCH, Oguntowo said that Ibrahim threatened him and Igangan town on Facebook before he blocked him.
Oguntowo said, “I sell gas, solar panels and accessories. My shop was one of those razed down by the attackers. I lost everything there. My loss should be about N5m. I was at home when they struck. I was woken up around 1am by calls. One of the callers told me that gunmen had invaded the town and were killing and burning houses. I heard gunshots. It was not the sound of locally-made guns, the sound of the guns indicated that they were armed with guns with rapid firepower.
“This did not come as a surprise to me and others because Salihu’s son, Ibrahim and his younger brother, Umoru, sent messages to me on social media that they would deal with me. He even said it on a radio station in Ibadan. He said I was behind how they were chased away from the town. I started selling gas before him and one day he brought a gas tank and said I should organise my colleagues who also sell gas to be buying in bulk from him instead of going to Ibadan to buy it.
But I told him that it would not be possible because even in Ibadan where there are many gas plants, we carefully select where to buy so that we would not run at loss. He went away but in January, he accused me of masterminding their eviction and the two of them said they would deal with me. This is the result of their threats. The resident of Igangan who tackled him on the radio programme the same day was also affected in this attack- his shop was also burnt.”
When contacted for their reactions, Ibrahim and Umoru denied masterminding the attack on villagers in Igangan.
The duo who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone said they knew nothing about the attack and they should not be blamed for whatever happened in the town.
Ibrahim said, “I don’t know anything about what they are saying. We are not in their community. How can they accuse the people they chased out five months ago of attacking them? We don’t know anything about it. There is no Fulani man in Ibarapa North Local Government Area so, how can they accuse us of attacking them? When we were there they accused us of attacking them, they chased us out and still accused us of being the ones attacking them. How is that possible?”
Residents said that about 20 lives were lost to the attack, while the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, claimed 50 persons were killed. The Oyo State Police Command said 11 persons were killed including some of the attackers.
The Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko, in a statement by the spokesperson for the police in the state, Adewale Osifeso, during a visit to the scene on Sunday, appealed to the people to remain calm and cooperate with the police in carrying out a detailed investigation into the killings.
The CP said, “In the process of the attack, 11 persons including some of the bandits were confirmed dead, while a number of vehicles and buildings including the Palace of the Asigangan of Igangan town and a filling station were torched.”
Forty-seven–year-old Jamiu Raji, who lost two family members to the attack, told our correspondent that members of the family were still in shock over the killings. He, however, said the family had accepted their fate while continuing to mourn the victims who he identified as Rabiat Raji and Ibrahim Adeagbo.
He said, “My sister (Rabiat) was at home when the gunmen struck. One of her nieces who slept in her place was woken up by repeated gunshots. She woke up and ran out to her parents’ house opposite her own house. She ran after the girl and after ensuring that she had entered their house, my sister returned. She was shot dead while returning to her house.
“Ibrahim Adeagbo was my cousin. He was at home when the gunmen came. They also shot him dead at home. He was 52 years old. The two of them were buried on Sunday after the police had written their reports about the incident.”
The owner of a truck loaded with yam flour, Mr Isiau Kosemani, told our correspondent that he cheated death by a whisker on the day of the attack.
Kosemani said, “I loaded 70 bags of elubo (yam flour) to transport them to Ibadan where we usually sell them. I usually wait till around 10pm or 11pm before leaving Igangan where we normally load because of heat and to avoid the ‘problems’ of police checkpoints. I took off and I was in the truck with my assistant driver. But before we could drive for about five minutes, I saw fire at the front and some persons were shooting towards our direction.
“My initial thought was that they were vigilantes but at a closer look, I discovered that they were attackers. We ran out of the vehicle and I hid somewhere. I was watching and some hunters saw me and told me not to challenge them because they would kill me. The hunters also could not challenge them at the time because the guns which the gunmen held were superior to the locally made guns by the hunters.
“One of the gunmen entered into the truck and he poured petrol on the seat and goods in the truck and set fire to it. That was how I lost everything but I thank God because I am alive. The truck should be around N11m and the elubo should be around N4,550,00 because a bag is sold for N65,000.”
Another victim whose shop was burnt by the attackers, Sekinat Ayandele, said her industrial sewing machines, generator, leather materials and many other goods were destroyed by the gunmen.
She said, “That is the only thing I do and my shop is gone now. Everything there is gone. I don’t know where to start from and that is why I am calling on the government to come to my aid and others who suffered a similar fate.”
A resident, Kehinde Osintayo, also narrated how the gunmen used axes to inflict injuries on his two siblings; Adefemi Adeniyi and Kehinde Adewole, who miraculously survived.
It was gathered that they were rushed to a hospital for treatment on Sunday morning by youths who combed nearby bushes to pick up corpses and the injured. The two victims, who are still in the hospital, have bandages on the injured parts of their bodies.
Osintayo, who was with them at the hospital, told our correspondent that the assailants stormed their house and attacked them while they were asleep. He said, “The two of them were inside their house close to a filling station where some were killed. They attacked them with axes and other sharp objects. They were asleep at the time. Adefemi’s wrist was cut off with an axe and he was inflicted with injuries on his body. Kehinde was also attacked and he also has injuries on his body. They can hardly hear now because one has to talk close to their ears before they can hear what anyone says.
“Government officials have come to the hospital but we don’t know when they will pay the bill. We just want our brothers to survive because the pain they went through was much. When the people of the town saw Adefemi when they were combing the bush on Sunday morning, he was groaning in pain and that was when he was taken to a hospital. We need the government’s assistance to pay the bill and to secure our area.”
He said that hunters prevented the gunmen from invading his part of the town, stating that if not for that, the town would have been wiped out by the hoodlums.
The President, Igangan Development Advocates, Wale Oladokun, told our correspondent that the group raised the alarm and communicated to the government in April that some gunmen were planning to attack the town but they didn’t pay attention to it. He also called for the arrest of Salihu and his two sons for allegedly masterminding the attack on the town.
Oladokun said, “We also call for immediate arrest and prosecution of Salihu and his sons, especially Ibrahim, who on traditional and social media threatened to raze down Igangan.
“Prior to this carnage, and precisely on April 14 and later on April 25 2021, we raised the alarm based on an intelligence report gathered by the Igangan Development Advocates. We channeled the alarm to the appropriate government quarters while it was also given a wide publicity in some media platforms that a certain sect was coordinating a plan to invade Igangan on a reprisal after the eviction of his father, Salihu.’’
He also appealed to the governor to establish a base for Amotekun in Igangan and to empower the vigilantes to assist security agents in securing the area and to convert the Police Post in Igangan to a Divisional Police Headquarters for better security in the town.
Also, the Nigeria Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self- Determination, being led by Prof. Banji Akintoye, urged Ibarapa people and all Yoruba to begin to plan how to defend themselves against those attacking them in their homeland.
The Chairperson of NINAS Central Steering Committee, Chief Folashade Olukoya and the spokesman for the group, Mr Tony Nnadi, who gave this advice in a statement, stated that the 1999 constitution was designed to render governors powerless on security-related matters so that all states and regions could be at the mercy of the central government.
The state governor, Seyi Makinde, while addressing residents of Igangan during his visit to the town to sympathise with the people and to assess the level of destruction said he should be held responsible for the attack.
He, however, said he had identified areas where there were hitches, calling on the people to give his government the opportunity to address the situation.
The governor said, “I have told your chairman that all the vigilantes and security guards, the government will be responsible for them. This is your government. Please give me the opportunity to do the needful so that a meeting like this would not come up again. I urge you to give me that chance to make the issue of insecurity here to become a thing of the past. Don’t take laws into your own hands. We have identified where there are hitches. We are supposed to be going to our farms by now because of the favourable weather. But hold me accountable, I have nowhere to go.’’
The governor promised that it was the last time such an attack would happen in the town, adding that, “It is a promise I am making to you, and it is a promise I will come through with. Please, don’t take laws into your own hands. I urge all the families that lost their loved ones to this attack, because sometimes, emotion can really be high.’’
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