By Cosmas Omegoh
Last week, Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo popularly known as Sunday Igboho dominated the news in the country.
For many days, Igboho remained in the spotlight following the eviction notice he allegedly handed to Fulani herders living in the larger Ibarapa and Igangan area along the Oke-Ogun corridor in Oyo State. This also followed their alleged links to criminality – rape, kidnapping, stealing, killing, and the like.
Following his audacity, Igboho is now seen as either a hero or a villain, saint or sinner, liberator and freedom fighter or oppressor. Everything depends on which side of the divide one falls.
But now, everything said and done about Igboho, including his deeds and misdeeds – all following in a sequence – are gaining him much traction. Visit the newsstands, for instance, he is grabbing bold headlines.
Igboho resonates better among those who know his ways. But obviously not with the larger Nigerian society.
Now, the question is who is this Sunday Igboho? What qualifies him to issue an eviction notice? Surely, he is a non-state actor like everyone else. That everyone knows.
Among those who know him closely, he is perceived as a human right activist – one who abhors injustice with his soul and spirit. To some, he is a politician. Some know him as a consummate businessman who birthed a certain Adeson International Business Concept Ltd with interest in automobile and landed property. In the cultural space, he is seen largely as a man of the people; he holds the title of Akoni Oodua of Yoruba land. Then wait for this. He is also perceived as a “strong man” at the service of desperate politicians who need his services – as they often do – to win at the polls. Those who trace his trajectory say he was weaned in the act of thuggery by the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, the popular strong man of Ibadan politics who held Oyo State by the jugular while his years of long reign lasted. And what is more? Igboho is acclaimed to have enormous magical powers and prowess. Bullets shot at him simply fall prostrate at his feet. Machete cuts are not for him. If you call him an “army general” and you are factually right. His profile battle is high.
Igboho was said to have provided hope and leadership where both were clearly missing. And it happened at a time the people who needed them were faced with real existential threat.
Igboho shot into the big stage recently on the day he stormed the home of the Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir to hand him and his herder kinsmen a seven-day ultimatum to quite Ibarapa, claiming that doing so was the clear way to halt the wave of criminality he accused them of perpetrating within the area.
In a video that went viral on social media he was heard telling the Fulani head: “Alhaji, I am here to tell you that we are not pleased with the way your people are killing our people. I cannot continue to fold my arms when your people are killing my people. We hereby give you seven days to leave this place.”
Many living within that axis were said to have hailed his actions as heroic, attesting that they had suffered unspeakable harm in the hands of the pastoralists whom they had hosted in the area for decades, but had now turned to be their nemesis.
Passing off the threat to forcefully eject him as gaseous, Abdulkadri and his kinsmen were said to have reported the matter to the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, recalling that they had been living in the area for donkey years, plying their trade unhindered and unfettered. That they had interacted very closely with their host communities with whom they had lived peacefully and even been engaging in marital relationships.
Governor Makinde was said to have issued a directive to security agencies in the state to arrest Igboho and have him treated as the criminal the state estimated he is.
Igboho was said to have fired back a salvo back at Governor Makinde, challenging him to get him arrested if he could. He did so in a recorded voice message that later went viral in which he was said to have told the governor that he was out on a mission to liberate Yorubaland from vampires and enjoined him to perish the idea.
Then on January 14, 2021, in a video that popped up on social media, Igboho was alleged to have gone ahead with his planned threat to evict the Fulani community. Of course, that was not without some skirmishes that have kicked up a huge cloud of controversy which has since been dominating the media and political space. Then, of course, the rationality or otherwise of that attempt is now down to which end of the stick anyone holds.
Last Tuesday, it emerged that arsonists stormed Igboho’s Ibadan residence in the wee hours and set it on fire – apparently a fallout from the recent turn of events at Ibarapa. Igboho himself was not in when the attack took place, but he was quoted as revealing that property worth N50 million was destroyed. On his Twitter handle, he said: “This happened at about 1:00 a.m today. They thought I was still in the house. I am safe and sound my people. You can’t kill a breeze. In 48hours the attacker would be revealed and would run mad. I have spoken.”
Analysts see the unfolding high drama as a by-product of systemic failure. Failure of the state to act and defend the people that sustain it in existence. Failure of the state to rise and do the needful when acts of criminality are alleged to have been committed – all because the ones who first pull the trigger are sacred cows who must be seen and treated as such. Failure of the state to act in the past when similar eviction notices were issued to law-abiding citizens at the least provocation. And all the state could do was to look away, pretending that it neither saw no heard. Now, this last eviction order points to the rising profile of private individuals to act way and above the precepts of the law.
Igboho who is currently in the eyes of the storm, is said to be 48 years old, having been born on October 10, 1972, in Igboho, Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State.
Said to have grown up as a stubborn and tough lad, he adopted the name of his home town, Igboho, and later made it popular.
He had his primary education at Igboho, junior secondary schools at Baptist High School also at Igboho before relocating to Modakeke in Osun State with his family. While in Modakeke, he grew up as a tough guy and was said to have been an active participant in the long-drawn Ife-Modakeke feud, fighting on the side of Modakeke.
When he left Modakeke, his fame roe highly with politicians seeking his services; he was highly in demand.
He was said to have worked for former governors of Osun and Oyo states as traditional security consultant.
He later went into private business when the late Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi tried to checkmate violence and thuggery in the state, thus throwing a spanner in the works of his trade. He is said to be avidly sympathetic to the lot of the poor victims of land grabbing whom he constantly saved and had their lands restored to them. Many acclaim he is a committed Yoruba freedom fighter.