From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Commandant of Oyo State Security Network Agency, also known as Operation Amotekun, Col. Olayinka Olayanju (retd), has dismissed media reports that there was a bloody clash between operatives of the agency and some Fulani herdsmen on Saturday in Aiyete in Ibarapa North Local Government of the state.
The media had reported that the bloody clash led to death and varying degrees of injury. Though the police confirmed that there person died and two were injured during the clash, a man said seven persons were feared dead.
Olayanju, who addressed journalists in Ibadan, the state capital, also stated that there was no clash between Fulani herdsmen in Oke-Ogun area of the state, which comprises 10 local governments, apart from the three local governments in Ibarapaland.
According to him, the Amotekun Corps, launched six operations in four local government areas, but that the team in Aiyete was attacked inside the forest by suspected bandits, three of whom were killed by his men.
Olayanju announced that the operations were fully supported by Fulani leaders, living in the areas, adding that some members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), were part of the operations.
Olayanju, who equally paraded one of the suspected kidnap kingpins, Sanni Bello, said he was arrested in the forests around Aiyegun axis in Iwajowa Local Government Area in Oke-Ogun, adding that the Amotekun worked closely with officials of Miyetti Allah, whose family members have equally suffered kidnapping in recent times.
He explained that the operation around the forests was embarked upon following incessant reports of killings and kidnapping in the area.
Olayanju said: “Contrary to any report you might have come across, there was no clash whatsoever between Fulani herdsmen and Amotekun in Ibarapa or Oke-Ogun axis of Oyo State.
“What happened was that we launched clearance operations in different locations around the thick forests of the four local governments that have suffered kidnapping and wanton killings in recent times.
“When our men entered the forests at Aiyete, they were attacked and a gun battle ensued, which led to the death of three of the attackers. One of our men sustained injury. It was not a clash with the Fulani, because Fulanis were part of the planning of the operation and we raided the forests together.
“We were in touch with Seriki, who is the leader of the Fulani in the area. Even, after our men were withdrawn on Saturday afternoon, we got reports that some Fulani were kidnapped in one location close to the area of operation. So, they are working with us, because they are also victims of the dastardly acts of kidnapping in the area.
“The incessant kidnapping and wanton destruction of lives necessitated the planning of a clearance operation in Lanlate, Igbo Ora, Igangan, Iganna and Aiyegun general areas in Ibarapa East, Ibarapa Central and Ibarapa North as well as Iwajowa Local Government Areas.
“There were six teams in all, comprising members of Amotekun, Vigilantes, Hunters and Miyetti Allah Vigilante. All the six teams had elements of these groups (joint team). However, at Igbo Ora, one of the teams had an encounter with two armed men, effected their arrest and recovered one double barrel rifle.
“All suspects and weapons were handed over to the Divisional Police Officer, DPO Magoro Police Station, Igbo Ora at about 9 a.m. on Saturday.
“In a related development, another team was attacked at about 9.30 a.m. in Igangan forest, Ibarapa North, while on the clearance operations at a settlement. The attack was repelled, resulting in serious injury to one member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) and three other suspects. Two dane guns were recovered at the scene.
“In Iwajowa LGA, one of the teams also arrested a kidnap kingpin operating around Aiyegun axis. He was arrested with a locally made pistol and cartridges. The operation was suspended at about 12 noon on Saturday to allow for further stock-taking.”