Sometimes in 2009 one of our traditional rulers (Baale of Idofin in Igboora) Ibarapa central local governments was arrested and detained overnight at the state police headquarters, Iyagangu, Ibadan at the request for Seriki Abdulkadr Saliu. His alleged offence was that he performed one of his official responsibilities of settling disputes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The Fulani man had confessed to grazing and destroying the farmer’s 10 acres farm. He told the Baale to keep his motorcycle until he gets the agreed compensation to pay the farmer for the grazed land.
Within two days, the Baale was arrested for being in possession of a stolen bike. The case was reported in Ibadan by the Seriki Fulani. The police officers from Ibadan did not report at Igboora Station. Intervention by Obas and High Chiefs in Ibarapa did not help the matter. He was locked up in the police cell like a common criminal and in fact with criminals. My intervention with the help of one ACP (name withheld) got him released on bail.
Mr Sulaimon Okeleye (AKA Ogo) a farmer at Imeleke road, Igboora was not that lucky in February 2012. After fighting Bororo- Fulani herdsmen for grazing his over 9 acres farm illegally. The Seriki reported that Ogo had killed one of his Bororo’s who grazed his farm and burnt the body to ashes. Ogo spent more than 3 months in detention before forensic medical analysis conducted at UCH, Ibadan proofed that the purported burnt bones of the “killed man” was actually burnt bones of a cow. While the trial lasted, the Seriki was unable to present a picture of the man he claimed to have been killed or any identity of the person. Yet Ogo suffered over nothing and the legal cost of going through a murder charge he did not commit.
In 2014, the entire village of Pompola, Elegun, Yenke, Arigba, Fedegbo and the environs, a predominantly farming community of over 2,000 people were sacked by Seriki. This was through his incessant arrest of the villagers. The entire farming community relocated to Igboora town (abandoning their farms and source of livelihood) for fear of being arrested by SARS which the Seriki was using to torment them. This was as a result of a fight between the famers and the herdsmen who had grazed their farmlands. Instead of the Seriki to have a peaceful resolution or report at Igboora police station, he reported to SARS in Ibadan that the farmers had killed and buried two Fulanis.
While the case lasted, four farmers named: Adefabi Ayoade, Soliu and two others were arrested, detained and prosecuted for a murder that did not even occur. After going through torture and prosecution for over 3 months and the Seriki was unable to present any evidence or identity of the people he claimed they have killed, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) who did not see any corpse, burial or grave of any one killed, recommended their release to the court. They were then released after 4 months of unlawful detention at Agodi prison. I know this much because I was involved in the process leading to their defense and release.
The most annoying part of my encounter with the torture the Seriki made our people go through was in 2014 when 5 of my vigilantes in the local government were arrested by SARS and detained at Ibadan office of SARS for 10 days. They had encounter with armed robbers while on their legitimate duties. The local government employed vigilantes are: Tunde Asipa, Sunday Ojediran, Asiri-Abo, Omodeere, Ayinde Bamisoyi. They were arrested based on the Seriki’s allegation that they killed his Fulani boys. These people were armed robbers encountered during robbery operations and exchanged fire with the security.
Giving the above catalogue of torture of our people by a repressive tenant on our land that has become “ above the law” and on whose request the law enforcement agents are abiding, the Ibarapa uprising and lawlessness of Igboho is inevitable. Violence begets Violence and Lawlessness begets lawlessness. This is when the law enforcement agents and government turn to prawns on the chessboard.
Mr Akinyemi Akinlabi
Ibarapa Central Local Government