There was pandemonium in Oyo State on Saturday over the killing of at least three Fulani persons, including a father and his two sons, by members of the South West security organisation, Amotekun.
Alhaji Usman Okebi and his sons were killed when the Amotekun operatives stormed the Fulani settlement at Okebi in Ibarapa North Local Government.
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This incident is the latest in a series of infringements, rights violations and highhandedness by the newly formed outfit. It comes just three weeks after the Amotekun Corps were accused of killing two people in the state including a University of Ibadan (UI) student.
The killing of Alhaji Usman, a prominent herder in the state, on the day of one of his sons’ wedding, has thrown the Fulani community into mourning as they called for a thorough investigation into the incident.
Daily Trust learnt that the attack actually started in Aiyete, a Bororo settlement, about one kilometre away from Okebi, the Fulani settlement.
A resident of the village, Umaru Abdulkadir, recounted the incident for Daily Trust.￼
“Early on Saturday morning, some men of Amotekun stormed a village belonging to Bororo people. When the Bororo saw that there was danger, they started running to the Fulani settlement (Okebi), which is about a kilometre away. On getting there, the Amotekun members shot a Fulani man in the leg and his people tried to get him to a hospital.
“When the Amotekun saw them going to the hospital, they attacked them on the bike and killed the man (Alhaji Usman) who was carrying the injured Bororo man on a motorcycle and two of his sons. Then the Amotekun came back and attacked the Fulani village. They have killed seven people as we speak while many are still missing. This is exactly what happened,” he said.
Another source who said the incident happened close to his village in a telephone chat with Daily Trust said the Bororo man chased to the Fulani village was a suspected kidnapper who went to buy food for his men in the bush.
The source, who is a traditional leader in the area, said; “Those telling you the story are not here. I am telling you the fact about it. Government needs to take action now. We have reported this case to the government several times. All the filling stations are not working here again because of the excesses of the herdsmen.
“The first man that was chased to that village went to buy food in Idere. As he was about to enter the bush in Tapa, they shot him and he ran to a village. As his men saw that Amotekun has surrounded the village, they shot at Amotekun and wounded them and the Amotekun repelled the attack. That was what led to the crisis.”
‘Those killed were kidnappers’
However, Sarkin Fulani of Oyo, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir countered the claim that those killed were kidnappers.
He said the Amotekun Corps stormed the Fulani settlement where they opened fire on innocent herders, saying the man who was killed alongside his two sons was like his Sarki in the state.
The Fulani leader insisted that the victims were unarmed herders who had lived in that community for more than 45 years.
“Alhaji Usman has been living in that Fulani settlement for the past 45 years.
“He grew up there and I am surprised people said they were kidnappers. We have been reading all sorts of misleading reports about the incident. This is why we want the police to conduct a thorough investigation,” he said.
Abdulkadir said the deceased actually made a distress call to him early on Saturday morning to contact the police on his behalf in Ibadan, the state capital, stating that it wasn’t long before they got a call that he has been killed.
He noted that the attack happened when they were preparing for the wedding of the man’s children, which was to take place on Saturday.
The Sarkin Fulani called for a thorough investigation of the killing to bringing the perpetrators to book.
Incidentally, the Fulani leader who is also the President of Jamu Nati Fulbe, a Fulani sociocultural organization in the South-West, had at the outset of the establishment of Amotekun told one of our correspondents that while the herders welcome the initiative, it should not be targeted at them.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, CSP Olugbenga Fadeyi, confirmed the incident in a text message sent to our Correspondent in Ibadan.
“When the DPO of Ayete got wind of the incident, he moved in swiftly to ascertain the cause of the attack.
“In his report, three persons died and two were injured. He has since commenced investigation and further development will unfold soonest,” the police spokesman said.
Attempts to get the Commandant of Amotekun Corps in the state, Col. Olayinka Olayanju were unsuccessful as his number was not reachable while a text message sent to him has not been replied at the time of filing this report.
On December 19, 2020, Amotekun operatives were accused of killing two people in Isale Osi Area of the state.
Also on December 20, a 400-level student of the Federal College of Education in the state, Akolade Gbadegbo, was killed by the operatives who claimed he was suspected to be an armed robber and cultist. The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) disagreed with the corps.
Recently, the Osun State Commandant of the Amotekun received backlash when he said the outfit, when launched in the state in March, will not tolerate indecent dressing and bastardizing the Yoruba language.
Coincidentally the killing of herders yesterday came the same day Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka warned that Amotekun must not become another Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a recently disbanded police unit notorious for extrajudicial killings.
He however restated that the security outfit has come to stay, adding that ethical training must be prioritized for the Amotekun operatives so that they don’t become another SARS.
The Nobel Laureate stated this during an interview session on Arise Television in Lagos.
He reiterated that training is key for the operatives of Amotekun, saying, “As you are training them to defend us, we are also training their minds so that Amotekun does not become another SARS, very important. We must do everything together.”
He however described the advent of Amotekun as a community policing initiative in response to the seeming breakdown of the national security architecture.
He said other states where the Amotekun corps has not taken off should quickly put machineries in place to commence the initiative.
Our correspondent reports that Amotekun is yet to commence operation in Lagos and Ogun States while it has commenced operation in other South-West states.
“Community policing like Amotekun is a recognition of the fact that the civic part of the entire national polity has got to wake up in not just its own defence but survival,” he said.
Soyinka also said, “There is absolutely no excuse for the brutality that occurred in the wake of the noise, rumour, reality of people being shot at the Lekki tollgate.”
He expressed concern over the turn of events after the #EndSARS protest.
“This is what makes our own responsibilities for ourselves as citizens even more difficult because when drama like that happens we go to the very heart of our existence as human beings to see our children have been swept up not for the first time and we cannot have a clear sequence of events articulated by the security agencies, by the government so that we can even take on our own against such events happening in the nation.”