From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
There was pandemonium in Ayete, the headquarters of Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State on Thursday as youths from various communities in the town staged a protest against kidnapping, banditry and other forms of insecurity rocking Ibarapaland.
The youth alleged that the insecurity stemmed from activities of some criminal herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic tribe, which, according to them, led to destruction of farmland, sacking of farmers from their farms, killings, kidnapping for ransom and other vices in the Ibarapa community.
The youth protested to the palace of traditional ruler of the town, the Asawo of Ayete, Oba Emmanuel Borisabunmi, and the divisional police headquarters in the town, where they reportedly registered their grievances on the security situation in Ayete and Ibarapaland generally.
But the peaceful protest turned violent as soon as they left the police station. They saw a Ford Explorer Sports Utility Vehicle, moving towards the outskirt of Ayete. They took special interest in the vehicle when the driver put it in a reverse mode with high speed.
One of the persons, who actively participated in the protest, but preferred anonymity for security reasons, said: “We stopped the vehicle and found out it contained three Fulani men and a Yoruba man. We insisted on carrying out a thorough search on the vehicle and we found a pistol and AR-15 gun with several bullets in the car.
“All our efforts to get them arrested at the spot were to no avail as they flew the place. Later, we caught the only Yoruba among them, and he was handed over to the police after being beaten. This infuriated more youths as several other youth groups and others, teamed up and embarked on a march to the three major locations that led to the highway in search of those who were moving with harmful objects. We embarked on the search effort on the highway to secure the area and avoid recurrence of their nefarious activities. It is very disheartening.”
Unverified claims stated that a policeman was injured when the protest turned violent. The policeman, as gathered, tried to use his phone to do video recording of the action. The protesters reportedly got angry and attacked him.
A source, who simply identified himself as Adebayo explained that the vehicle was burnt after the three Fulani men escaped and left only the Yoruba man, who drove the Ford Explorer behind. The driver was purportedly beaten blue and black before he ran for cover at the divisional police headquarters in Ayete.
According to him, “It took the intervention of the Secretary of the farmers’ association in Ibarapa (Akowe Agbe), Mr Taiwo Adeagbo, who was accompanied by police officers, to take the injured suspect – the driver, to the General Hospital for medical attention. The youth embarked on the protest in the wake of recurring deaths and kidnapping that had suddenly started again in Ibarapaland. In the last few days, more than three death cases and four cases of abduction had been recorded among the residents.
The Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in Ayete was said to have visited the scene where the vehicle was razed, and that he was not happy about the jungle justice. He was quoted to have said the youth had destroyed what could have served as evidence.
The Police Public Relations Officer for the state, Mr. Adewale Osifeso, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) could not be reached on his mobile phone at the time of filing this report, as he did not answer or return calls made to his line.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, was in Ayete on Thursday, where she held a security meeting with strategic stakeholders on how to ensure adequate security of lives and property in Ayete and Ibarapaland as a whole.