Fulani leaders in Iganna community, Iwajowa Local Government Area of Oyo State, have cried over the murder of 11 of their people by people suspected to be members of a vigilante group and hunters in the community.
Among the victims are three pregnant women, four nursing mothers and their children.
The Fulani leaders also said 72 of their houses were burnt to ashes.
One of the leaders, Sarki Mahmuda Yusuf, told Daily Trust that the trouble started on May 11 when some members of the vigilante group in the area met him and told him that a farmer in the community was stabbed.
“I asked them if they had seen any suspect, and they said no, but that they had traced his footsteps to the Fulani community. I told them that they should not worry that I was going to invite all the members of the Fulani community to the palace of the traditional head of the community and we will fish out the criminal. They told me that they had taken the farmer to an undisclosed hospital for treatment.
“From there I went to the palace of the community leader, the king of Iganna, and reported to him. The following day, I informed all the members of the Fulani community in Iganna to be at the palace even though some had already left for the weekly cattle market in Iseyin.
“I was at the palace when I was informed that the vigilantes had stormed our community, killing women and children, so I left the palace and headed back for our community. It was on my way that I saw the lifeless body of Alhaji Umaru whom I earlier left at the Suya (roast meat) spot. On my way to the community, I saw two bodies of other Fulani men … when I got to the community, we counted eight more bodies of women and children; three of the women were heavily pregnant, one of which was expected to give birth that very day. Four others were nursing mothers and a child of two years old, were all murdered, 72 houses in the community were set ablaze,” he said.
Mahmuda said the bodies of the 11 victims were taken to the mortuary and buried in Iseyin the next day (May 15) after reporting the incident to the police.
He said a girl child is still missing after the attack.
He, however, said the state governor, Seyi Makinde; the state Commissioner of Police and heads of other security agents had visited the scene.
“The governor came here the following day after the incident with security agents; they came here to console us, and the police promised to investigate the issue, but as I’m talking to you, today is about two weeks, and nobody has been arrested regarding the attack,” he added.
Mahmuda alleged that a chief, the Balogun of Iganna, Karim Oyediran, swore and threatened in the presence of a deputy commissioner of police that the attack was just the beginning as more would come.
But when our reporter contacted Oyediran on the phone, he denied the allegation.
He said, “I’m not aware if any Fulani man beat a farmer; I was just informed that something was happening and some hunters and I went to find out. When we got to the scene, we found that many houses were burnt to ashes.”
Also contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, told Daily Trust that the police had yet to inform the governor about the casualties recorded at the incident.
“The police are investigating the matter. The governor was told that there was a clash, where a farmer was stabbed and some people retaliated. We don’t have the numbers of the casualties. The governor was at the scene of the incident with some top security personnel a day after it happened and has directed them to investigate the matter and restore peace and also make sure the perpetrators are brought to book,” he said.
The police spokesperson in Oyo State, Adewale Osifeso, told Daily Trust that investigations had commenced into the incident but could not give the casualty figure.
“The Commissioner of Police, Adebowale Williams, has immediately ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) to lead the investigation team.
“Also, ample deployment of command’s operational and intelligence assets are on ground to forestall any untoward incident and as well boost the confidence of residents as they go about their legitimate businesses without fear of harassment,” he said.