Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Iwoye is an agrarian community in Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State. The town, which nestles peacefully between Ilaro, the LG headquarters and the commercial town of Owode, has never been in the news for bad reasons.
Majority of the residents of the town are farmers, even the young ones in school, always engage in farming. But the idyllic and peaceful ambience of Iwoye was shattered on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, when two prominent residents of the town were brazenly shot dead by a fellow resident and fled.
When the news first filtered into town that Nureni without any provocation or justification, shot and killed the Amuludun of Iwoye, Ajayi Onifade and the Chief Whip of the town’s hunters association, Olatunji Ayinla, not few people thought the incident must be a fiction. But when the incident was later confirmed by the police, one would be curious to ask, why such town suddenly came into a limelight, via a notoriety of Nureni.
He was said to have stormed the house of Onifade around 7. 25a.m on the fateful day and shot him at a close range while the latter was preparing to go to his farm. Though he did not die on the spot as he was rushed to a nearby hospital and later referred to the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, where Onifade eventually gave up the ghost on Friday, March 29.
Nureni who fled into the bush, was reported to be threatening that eight more residents would be killed by him. The matter was reported at the Ilaro Divisional Police headquarters, but the town organised a search party led by late Ayinla, to hunt down the suspect the same day.
Apparently determined to carry out his threat, Nureni, on sighting the search party from his hiding, fired another volley of bullets, which hit Ayinla and killed him on the spot. The suspect, Daily Sun learnt, came to his house in the middle of night to prepare food and eat. He was also said to move around the community threatening that the fate that befell Ayinla would befall anyone who dared to apprehend him.
Speaking with our correspondent on phone over the sad incident, the eldest child of Onifade, Seyi, said that despite the fact that the matter was immediately reported to the police, the suspect was still on the loose threatening fire and brimstones. He alleged that efforts by the community to launch a serious manhunt for the suspect, with the view of apprehending him were being thwarted by the police.
Seyi said urgent action must be taken to arrest the suspect who had continued to instill fear into the residents by threatening to deal ruthlessly with everybody who dared to be part of search party for him. This action has forced many residents to flee the community.
Trip to Iwoye
Alighting at Iwoye-Oke area of the town on Tuesday, April, the community was wearing a mournful look. Except for the noises coming from the students of Iwoye Community High School, who just finished writing their second term examinations, the town was in a silent mode.
Few people were seen around as majority of the houses were locked. The first person approached for a direction to Onifade’s compound, appeared scared and simply said, “the compound is far.” It took almost 10 minutes later before an elderly person gave a precise direction to the compound. After two minutes of walking from the main road, the house of the late Amuludun of Iwoye was located.
A woman in her late 20s, who was later discovered to be daughter in-law of Onifade, was met in front of the unpainted bungalow. After listening to the mission of the writer, she led the way into the main room where three persons were seated. A woman, who introduced herself as the widow of Onifade, narrated how the incident occurred.
The suspect whose residence is not far from that of the deceased, had been at loggerheads with Onifade, over no particular matter. She explained that Nureni had in February 2018, stormed their house and shattered all the glass windows, alleging that her husband and other chiefs in the town took away his wife. She added that people descended on him and started beating him, but the deceased pleaded with the people to let him go.
Mrs. Onifade: “Baba had on Tuesday night told me that on Wednesday morning he would visit his farm and later in the day, travel to either Ilaro or Abeokuta for a political meeting. He was a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Iwoye Ward.
“I was the one who opened the door for him to take his bike outside and he was about leaving for the farm when Nureni accosted him. When I saw him, I never thought he could be up to any sinister act, so I moved to the back of the building.
“I heard him asking Baba to produce his children or die. It was then I abandoned the chore I was carrying out and I was on my way to the spot where they were standing when I heard my husband shouting gun, gun, gun! And before I could get there, I heard the sound of the gun. My husband was shot by Nureni and he bolted from the scene. I went for my husband who held tightly to a side of his stomach and fell on the ground.”
Corroborating his mother’s account of the incident, the second child of the deceased, Dare, said Nureni had been a terror to Iwoye since his wife left him and left five children for him to cater for. Dare, who is visually impaired, explained that the community had earlier recovered a gun he used to terrorise the people from him and handed it over to the police. He added that the suspect who is a farmer, also has a barber shop in front of his house and claimed to be an herbalist:
“Look at my condition, it was this Baba that had been my pillar. Nureni just took away my pillar of support without justification. His wife has since run away from the house when he attempted to kill her in the bush. For days, she tied the wife to a tree in the bush before she was rescued. He always went around to accuse the chiefs in the community of conspiring to snatch his wife.
“That day he came to physically accuse Baba, none of us thought he meant to kill him. But now that he has killed him, Nureni should be made to face the full wrath of law. And the law enforcement agents should up their ante because he comes around in the night to threaten to kill more people. Such a killer should not be left prowling the community, we crave for justice.”
A neighbor of Nureni who had come to sympathise with the Onifades, Mrs. Tawa Bankole, said he might be possessed with evil spirit: “My household had always been subjected of threats of physical attack by the Nureni.”
Bankole who took our correspondent to the house of the suspect, which was locked. The house is an unpainted roomy apartment with three shops constructed in front of it. The house has a shrine dedicated to Ogun (Yoruba god of iron) in front of the building.
She said few days to the attack on Onifade, Nureni had sacrificed a he-goat and performed other propitiation exercises at the shrine. She claimed that she saw the suspect pouring the blood of the sacrificial goat into his gun and left it at the shrine:
“I am a next door neighbour to Nureni and I saw everything he did. On the day he sacrificed the goat at his shrine, I saw him pouring the blood of the goat inside his dane gun. He later cooked the meat for his children and it was when they were eating that I heard him telling his daughter, Mariam, that she would be offered as the next sacrificial item to the god of iron.
“This statement must have scared the girl and decided to take his siblings and run from the house. I was the first person he accused of hiding his children and threatened to kill me and members of my family.
“Another thing is that Nureni did not use normal cartridge pellets as bullets, rather, he used nails and bottle smithereens to kill his victims. This, we later discovered this was what made it impossible to remove the shrapnel from Baba Onifade when he was shot.”
She claimed the suspect would have been nabbed by the police, but for the information he was getting regularly from Azeez and Suraju: “The duo who are said to be relatives of Nureni were sending food and recharge cards to him in his hiding.”
At the residence of another victim of Nureni’s cruelty, the widow of Olatunji Ayinla, Florence, was met in a sombre mood. Narrating what transpired that day, Florence said the news of the attack on Amuludun by Nureni, shocked the residents of the community. She said because of the closeness of her late husband to the Onifade family, he agreed to lead other hunters in the community to comb the bushes for the suspect:
“My husband and many other men had already left for their respective farms when the news of the attack on Onifade spread all over the community. Police later came and my husband other hunters agreed that they should help the police to fish the killer out since they understand the terrain better.
“It was later in the day that he came to inform me that the suspect had been sighted at Eredo community and he led his colleagues to track him down. Since the police instructed that the suspect must be brought alive so that he could be interrogated, the hunters were not armed. And when the dead body of my husband was brought back from Eredo, I was dumbfounded. I never thought in my wildest imagination that he was going to be killed just like that.”
Yetunde Kujenyo, women leader of Ifelodun Community Development Association (CDA), claimed she attended the same primary school with Nureni. She said Onifade led other members of Vigilance Service Organisation (VSO) to retrieve a gun and cartridges from him last year and handed over to the chiefs in the town, who later took the arm and ammunition to the police: “Since that singular incident, Nureni had vowed to get back at the chiefs.
“VSO deliberately stayed away this time around because the treatment meted out to some of its members over their roles in apprehending a member of the community, who almost hacked a person to death.”
Younger brother of Ayinla, Adisa Ogundele, Yoruba poet, described his brother’s death as painful. He said the suspect ran to a town called Irogun Soaga where he was given a safe haven. He said police must ensure they arrest his informants in Iwoye in order to nab him. He added that Nureni was neither mad nor possessed by any evil spirit, but a sociopath who derives pleasure in inflicting fatal pains on his victims.
Meanwhile, the Yewa South LG has intensified efforts to provide necessary support for the law enforcement agents in order to bring the suspect to book. Secretary to Local Government (SLG), Taiwo Jimoh, told Daily Sun that a security meeting was held on the matter. He noted that all efforts to arrest Nureni by the police had been frustrated by some people who always informed him ahead of the operation.
He explained that the last time police were cocksure he passed night at a particular location, the suspect, apparently got wind of his impending arrest few minutes to when the police would get there, escaped into the bush on sighting them very early in the morning.
The SLG said the community was unable to provide Nureni’s picture to the police for proper identification. This made the police helpless in their efforts to arrest the culprit. He was, however, confident that the policemen stationed at Iwoye would get Nureni very soon.