No fewer than 17 persons have been reportedly shot dead by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen at Igangan, in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Residents told our correspondent that the hoodlums invaded the town on motorcycles around 11pm on Saturday and started killing and destroying property, which continued until around 3am on Sunday.
At daybreak, residents reportedly saw corpses of children and adults littered some places in the town, while houses and vehicles, including a truck loaded with cassava flour, were razed by the attackers.
Some residents of Ayete, which is the headquarters of the Ibarapa North LGA, told our correspondent that Igangan residents sent messages to them and others in different parts of Ibarapa to help them get across to security agencies to come to their rescue.
The Convener, Igangan Development Advocates, Oladiran Oladokun, told The PUNCH that the gunmen set fire to houses to drive out the people, after which they opened fire on them.
He said the government did not take the security seriously, adding that they had reported that the herdsmen were planning to attack them.
Despite the information, he said nothing was done to protect the people.
Oladokun said, “Between 12 and 17 persons were killed. Security agents were called, but their numbers were switched off. No security agent came to our rescue. Our hunters and vigilantes were the ones who risked their lives and confronted the attackers who carried sophisticated weapons.
“Despite the fact that the hunters were poorly equipped, they gunned down five of the Fulani attackers. One of the brave hunters was killed by the gunmen. The hunter was shot and reportedly beaten to death with clubs and other objects.”
The Secretary of Farmers’ Union, Mr Taiwo Adeagbo, aka Akowe Agbe, had told our correspondent around 12.39am that the town was under attack.
But at 3.12am, Adeagbo said the shooting had reduced.
He later said around 5am that “the Fulani terrorists killed no fewer than five persons in Igangan. Security agents also killed five of the terrorists.
“The terrorists also set a petrol station ablaze; cars were also burnt and a truck loaded with cassava flour travelling to Ibadan was also razed,” he added.
The PUNCH gathered that the palace of the Asigangan of Igangan, Oba Lasisis Adeoye, was razed by the gunmen, but the monarch escaped because he did not sleep in the palace.
Adeoye, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone said, “Yes, they burnt the palace. They killed many people here and burnt houses and vehicles.”
Some residents claimed that one of Iskilu Wakili’s children was among the gunmen killed.
Also, one of the relatives of Seriki Salihu Abdukadir was said to be among the attackers killed by the hunters.
But the two sons of Seriki, Ibrahim and Umoru, when contacted by our correspondent, denied knowing anything about the attack.
Ibrahim said, “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 single Fulani man in the whole of Ibarapa North LGA, so, how can they accuse us of attacking them?”
11 died in attack — Police
However, the Oyo State Police Command said 11 persons were killed during the attack on Igangan on Sunday.
The Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko, said this in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Adewale Osifeso.
The statement read, “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
“Intelligence and tactical apparatuses consisting of police mobile force personnel, patrol units and other tactical teams. in concert with hunters and vigilantes from the community were deployed to forestall further disintegration of law and order in the area.”
Alaafin accuses police of backing suspect
Meanwhile, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, has described as disheartening the attack on the town.
In a statement on Sunday, he appealed to the residents of Igangan and other parts of Oyo State to be calm and allow security agencies to address the issue.
Alaafin, however, accused the police of usually freeing Fulani suspects arrested in connection with crimes.
He said, “The wanton destruction of life and property, including the palace of the Asigangan of Igangan, is quite sad.
“Despite all efforts made at curtailing this ugly menace long before it starts staring us in the face, several Fulanis have been arrested and handed over to the police in Oyo State. But there has not been any conviction not to talk of diligent prosecution as the arrested Fulanis are back on the street 24 hours after being arrested for various heinous crimes.”
Governor Seyi Makinde, while reacting to the attack in a statement, urged the people of the area to be calm.
Makinde said, “I am currently being briefed on the incidents. I urge residents to remain calm as security operatives are now in control of the situation.”
Also, the Chairman of the South-West Governors Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, condemned the attack, describing it as “horrendous, callous and highly provocative.”
“While we will encourage the security agencies to get to the root of this latest act of provocation, we have directed the commanders of the South West Security Network, Amotekun, to convoke a joint security meeting of all commanders in the South-West with a view to commencing joint operations in the region immediately.
“We must reiterate the fact that certain elements are bent on causing friction among the people of this country with the sole aim of achieving a pernicious end. They will stop at nothing until their set goal is realised. It is, therefore, incumbent on all lovers of peace and freedom to rise against this current regression into savagery,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Also, the Aare Ona kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, has said the killing of residents of Igangan by suspected herdsmen has shown that war is imminent in the country.
The generalissimo of Yorubaland added, “Information at my disposal indicates that bandits and killer herdsmen have invaded the South-West.
“All governors in the South-West should beef up the security of their respective states in order to secure the lives and properties of the people of the region.”
Adams lamented the alleged failure of the Federal Government to defend the people against suspected herdsmen attack, adding that people night have to begin to defend themselves
He said, “Where were re the police when the bandits started killing our people in Igangan today? Even the palace of Asigangan of Igangan land, Oba Adewuyi Olaoye, was not spared and the monarch.”