Gunmen, who on Saturday shot dead six members of a family residing in a Fulani settlement near Wasinmi, along Ife-Ibadan Expressway, Osun State, called out the head of the family from a mosque, where he was praying, and asked him to kneel beside his two wives and three grandchildren and asked for money before killing the victims.
The deceased family head was identified simply as Samu.
His son, Yahaya Samu, who spoke to journalists at the scene of the incident, said he fled when the settlement came under attack.
He said the attackers came on two motorcycles and got to the settlement around 10pm.
According to him, there are many households in the settlement located about five kilometres off the Ife-Ibadan Expressway, but wondered why the family was the target of the assailants.
Yahaya stated, “The attackers came on two motorcycles around 10pm and started searching huts in the settlement. They didn’t enter some of the huts. They brought out the two wives of the deceased and three of his grandchildren.
“They asked for Alhaji and they led those already brought out to where my father was. He was inside the mosque and they called him out. They asked him, his two wives, three grandchildren and one other resident to kneel down.
“They asked my father for money and he told them he didn’t have money. My father also told them that he didn’t keep money at home and that whenever he needed money, he would sell his cow.
“They told him and the others to stand up and go and as he stood up, he was shot. The victims were shot at close range. I was in hiding while all that was happening. Two of my father’s grandchildren killed are my children.”
Giving further insight into how the attack occurred in an interview with The PUNCH, the immediate past Chairman of the Irewole Local Government Area, Remi Abbas, said he got a distress call about the attack in the early hours of Sunday and he led a team to the scene.
Abbas stated, “By the time we got there, six people who were shot had died. The seventh person was not dead and we evacuated him to a hospital for treatment. He is being treated now.
“Many of the residents of the settlement fled into the bush when the gunmen arrived. We are still looking for some of them. It is the first time such an incident would occur here.
“We will surely apprehend the perpetrators. Our men are already in the bush. The state Deputy Governor, Benedict Alabi, has visited the scene; the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Abiodun Ige, was also at the scene. We are on the trail of the perpetrators and we will surely get them.”
The identities of the assailants could not be immediately ascertained, but police personnel and members of the Oodua People’s Congress and Hunters Group of Nigeria were said to have been deployed in the bush in search of the perpetrators.
The state police command spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, who confirmed the incident, said all the deceased were members of the same family.
Opalola explained in a statement, “The attack on a family at a settlement on the outskirts of Wasinmi village, Ikire, Osun State, is not connected to any clash between farmers and herders as being speculated in some sections of the media.
“Some yet-to-be identified gunmen had attacked and shot dead six members of a family and left one other person injured at the settlement located on the outskirts of Wasinmi village.
“The Commissioner of Police, Osun State Command, Olawale Olokode, who visited the scene of the incident for an on-the-spot security assessment, ordered discrete investigation into the incident and we are already carrying out intensive manhunt for the perpetrators to bring them to justice.
“Police operatives from the Ikire Division and other law enforcement agencies were promptly drafted to the scene to prevent further attacks on residents of the area and arrest the perpetrators, but the attackers escaped on sighting the security team.
“The CP appeals to the people of the state, particularly residents of Ikire and its environs, not to panic but collaborate with the police by giving timely information that will assist in arresting the culprits.
“He reassures them of the commitment of the police to their safety as adequate security measures have been emplaced to forestall future occurrences of such an incident.”
Meanwhile, Olokode and the Akire of Ikire, Oba Olatunde Falabi, on Sunday met to discuss the worsening security situation in the area.
Opalola confirmed the meeting in a chat with our correspondent.
The Osun State Government condemned the killings on Sunday.
The deputy governor, who was at the scene, described the incident as “disheartening and unfortunate.”
A statement by the Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Ajibola Olaniyi, said Alabi, who was accompanied by the Chairman, Committee on Peaceful Coexistence between Fulani/Bororo and Crop Farmers in Osun State, Mr Mudasiru Toogun; the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Bola Oyebamiji; and Ige, was received by some family members of the deceased.
According to the Alabi, the incident was a case of brutal assassination, adding that the perpetrators would be brought to justice soon.
He added that the state government had ordered security agencies in the state to fish out the killers and bring them to justice.
The deputy governor was quoted as saying, “This is a very unfortunate incident and we are so sad about it as a government. It is shocking and strange to our communities.
“We are here on behalf of the state government to sympathise with you and we are assuring you that those criminal elements, who perpetrated this evil act, will not go scot-free; we have ordered security agencies to swing into action and fish them out to face the full wrath of the law.”
He also called on members of the community to assist security agents with useful information that could speed up the arrest of the killers.