There was disquiet in Ibarapa zone of Oyo State on Sunday as news of the arrest of some members of the Oodua Peoples Congress by men of the Oyo State Police Command filtered in.
The OPC members were said to have been arrested by men of the police in the state for effecting the arrest of the notorious Fulani warlord, Iskilu Wakili, who allegedly terrorized the Oyo communities.
Some local security operatives in Ibarapa, including Oodua Peoples Congress, Vigilante, and other groups, were reported to have arrested the notorious Fulani man on Sunday following a fierce gun battle.
Reports had it that Wakili and his gang were involved in the killings and kidnapping of several people in Ayete and adjoining communities in recent time.
Wakili had, in the wake of an eviction notice served on killer herdsmen in Ibarapa and Oke Ogun zone of the state by a Yoruba rights activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, a.k.a Sunday Igboho, threatened that nobody dared to either attack or arrest him.
He was, however, captured barely seven days after his second-in-command, Isiaka Muhammadu, was arrested alongside four others.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, confirmed Wakili’s arrest in a statement made available to journalist by Kehinde Aderemi, his Special Assistant on Media, on Sunday.
Aderemi in a telephone interview with Oyo Reporters on Sunday had hinted that the OPC men who arrested Wakili had, in turn, been arrested by the police and were being interrogated on why they went for him (Wakili).
He said, “I heard that some OPC men had been arrested by the police in connection with Wakili’s arrest. It is curious; I confirmed the information from the Aare (Gani Adams) himself.”
Wakili is notorious for seizing farmland, raping women and kidnap of members of the host communities for ransom.
While reacting to Wakili’s arrest on Sunday, some residents of Ibarapa said, “With the eviction of the Seriki Fulani, Saliu Abdulkadri, from Igangan in Ibarapaland, many of us had thought that the end had come to the oppression and constant anguish to which the farmers were subjected. Little did we know that the woes had just begun.
With the exit of Seriki, Wakili had waxed stronger as he mounted no cross-zone on farms in an apparent bid to send warnings to the people of the town and the adjoining communities that he could not be evicted. He was reported to have shot farmers who trespassed the no cross-zone.
Wakili, a Fulani herdsman whose origin many don’t know, speaks fluent Yoruba.
He is said to be the leader of the herdsmen in the Ayete area of Ibarapaland and works with dozens of herders who are his disciples. Together with his battalion of herders, he displaced farmers and forcefully invaded their farms with cattle.
As a result, the people said the farmers couldn’t harvest their crops as the Fulani man allegedly did all the harvests. They added that farmers had nothing to show for their efforts while Wakili went away with their harvests.
Sources said Wakili relied on deadly weapons, native powers as well as federal might.
It was learnt that Wakili had recently shot at an emissary that was said to have been sent by Baale Odomofin, the traditional ruler in control of Gbangbangere, Konko, Dagbere, Kajola, Magbeje, and other hamlets in Ayete, who were sent to serve him a quit notice.
Meanwhile, a top security personnel in Oyo State who spoke with Oyo Reporters on the condition of strict anonymity on Sunday, had said, “I learnt that four OPC members were arrested by the police in connection with Waikili’s arrest. I cannot speak authoritatively about the arrest because my men were not involved.”
The earlier statement by Aderemi titled, ‘Insecurity: Gani Adams applauds OPC, Ibarapa joint security team over arrest of kidnap kingpin, Wakili, three others in Ibarapa,’ read that the Fulani man was arrested around 7 am on Sunday and was handed over to the Divisional Police Office in Igbo Ora.
The statement described Wakili as the ‘most-dreaded, notorious kidnap kingpin’ who operated in the state, reading, “I am happy that the notorious kidnapper had been captured alongside three others. It is a good development and a positive signal to other criminal elements that the South-West is no longer an abode for bandits, kidnappers, and criminal herders.
“I commend all the members of the joint security team that has made this possible because with the video at my disposal, it was purely a neat job.
“With this development, I think the whole world will agree with me that the fight against insurgency, kidnapping, and banditry needs native intelligence, information gathering, and grassroots support from local securities and operatives.
“As I have said earlier that the effort to rid the South-West of bandits and kidnappers was to complement the efforts of the police and in doing that, it is also very important for the police to support the local security operatives because they are always at the grassroots and they have their ears to the ground on local security matters.”
The Police in the state had yet to confirm the arrest of the OPC men however. When reached, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi, the Police Public Relations Officer, said, “I don’t have any detail about that. OPC are not police. I will find out to know where they have taken Wakili.”