Thousands of people stormed the streets of Ogbomoso Monday to protest against kidnapping for ransom, killing and other terrorism acts gradually becoming invasive in the zone. The last three and a half weeks had seen not less than three reported abductions in which a total of N13m was allegedly paid as ransom, all in a part of Surulere local government, the part that incidentally borders Kwara state, an enclave in the northern part of the country, from where the terrorists are believably pouring in.
A supervisor in TDB Farms belonging to ex-governor (now late) Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, Christopher Taiwo Bakare, was the first to be kidnapped on July 16 in the farm located at Jabata, a N5m ransom was paid to secure his release; following, a hospital owner, Abdulrasheed Oladoye, was abducted from his clinic at Gbede, N3m was coughed out for him to regain freedom; and the last reported one, involved the kidnap of a hotel owner, Olugbenga Owolabi, who just returned from the US, and one of his staff members, Rachael Opadele, a final year student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, from the hotel – Tana Suites, who despite payment of N5m ransom were killed in cold blood by the criminals along with the okada operator who conveyed the ransom bearer to their rendezvous, with the ransom bearer escaping death narrowly.
The dastardly events in quick succession were a trigger for danger alarm. Thus, elders in the community, under the aegis of Ogbomoso Consultative Council (OCC) led by the trio of Major General Oladayo Popoola (rtd), Justice Afolabi Adeniran (rtd) and Dr Saka Balogun, in conjunctions with a leading youth group, Ogbomoso Community Youth Forum (OCYF), came out with the bold initiative – “Ogbomoso March Against Terrorism.”
The event, which commenced at the popular Takie Square, was thronged by tens of thousands of people, who came grim-faced, to express displeasure over the developing menace. Placards bearing various inscriptions were borne, some of which read – Ogbomoso is never conquered, bandits, you can’t overrun us; End banditry and kidnapping in our land now; Ogbomoso, we need a new Soun now; May God console the families of Gbenga Owolabi, Rachael Opadele and Idowu Ajagbe, killed by kidnappers; Kidnappings and killings in Ogbomoso, enough is enough; Kidnapping, we must not continue like this; Come to our rescue before we start defending ourselves, etc.
After a number of speakers addressed the protesters, they moved to Ogunlola Hall at Oja’gbo (a distance of about three kilometers) for more speeches, which all bordered on insecurity – the need to be vigilant, intelligence gathering, cooperation with security agents and so on. There were also speakers who charged the people to gear up to go face to face with the terrorists if need be reminding them that the community was never a conquered territory.
Asiwaju Ojo Oluwatanna, an ewi exponent, added pep to the occasion with his motivational songs and blunt pieces of advice.
The event also witnessed presence of large numbers of security agencies both conventional and non-conventional. It was a show of force, one that must have shown the marauders of the fearful force rearing to go against them if they would persist in their nefarious activities.
One thing the people were assured of is that the “Evil agenda of the terrorists will not be allowed to be set in Ogbomoso zone,” and that “waterloo” or “ogbo-loo” stares them in the face as far as this place is concerned.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Sheu Babalola (rtd), who leads the security committee of OCC with AIG Olasupo Ajani, stated that the rally was to restore peace and not to cause escalation of crisis, while disclosing that a joint task force comprising government and traditional security agents to engage in patrol all nooks and crannies of the zone had been established.
He further noted, “Those whose intent is to cause havoc will be exposed.”
AIG Ajani also charged people to be driven by the quip – “See something, say something.”
Aale of Okelerin, Oba Samuel Babatunde Amao, informed that traditional rulers were not idle affirming “It is a wave that will be blown away.”
Rev’d Peter Olaleye, president of OCYF warned that the “March against terrorism” rally was not staged to give license to attack Fulani settlements but to rouse us to the danger that “had set foot at out gate.”
Chief Sunday Dare, Minister for Youths and Sports, and who is Agbaakin of Ogbomoso, speaking through a representative said, “Youths have the responsibility of protecting the community. We should arise. We as inhabitants know one another, the evil ones should be exposed.”
For Hon Olamijuwonlo Alao-Akala, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Ogbomoso Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, the inhabitants of Ogbomosoland should draw strength from the age-long anthem of Ogbomoso – Adenu oko a sinmi… (In the vehicle we are, taking respite…), urging, “let’s keep our differences aside; this is a matter that concerns all of us. Those killed are our people; we must not allow Ogbomoso to turn desolate because of bandits. We must unite and cooperate; we should expose evil doers in our midst.”
Hon Bimpe Martins, a former interim chairperson of Ogbomoso North local government, remarked, “Youths, you have demonstrated your love for the town, it is an indication that Ogbomoso has a bright future that we have people who will carry on the torch with courage. Let’s be vigilant, let’s promptly report suspicious persons in our midst to security agents.”
Comrade Semiu Dauda, a leader of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) asserted, “We are never afraid in Ogbomoso and we will never be afraid. The protection of Ogbomoso is something prepared by our forefathers. I want to challenge those among us who are supernaturally strong to come out, to reinforce the youths. Ogbomoso never cringes in the face of war. We know the number of Are Ona Kakanfos (generalissimo) we have produced, we have equally produced great men of valour, we will never be afraid.”
Mogaji Gbagun, Prince Oyelami Oyeyiola, who spoke on behalf of Soun dynasty, similarly averred, “We are Ajilete, that is why Fulani War never conquered us and it’s why we saved the whole of Yorubaland. The new menace is ‘kidnap war,’ we will defeat them also, our forefathers will not abandon us, so, we will save Yorubaland again.”
Dr. Paul Ajagbe, candidate for the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) for Ogbomoso North state constituency, congratulated the indigenes of Ogbomoso on the ostensible unity as a result of the threat, enjoining, “We should be vigilant and promptly report suspicious persons.”
Sheikh Abdulrasheed Aduranigba, introduced as the Chief Imam of Yorubaland, from Ilorin, capital of Kwara state, and who said he travelled down when he heard of the rally, while commending the people of Ogbomoso for the rally urged all to have a whistle.
Shiekh Aduranigba said whistle is a vital instrument in the battle as it will alert everybody in the event of emergencies, declaring, “We are not your meat (referring to kidnappers). If Yoruba people will not go to the north to kidnap northerners, why must they come down here to perpetrate evil, abducting us, taking ransom and killing us? They killed 72 persons in Owo, Ondo state. This can’t be allowed to continue.”
He now charged on the imperative of installing another Soun of Ogbomosoland, curtly but sternly proclaiming, “We need another Oba of Ogbomoso. Choose an Oba for us in time.”
Venerable Dr. Joseph Adegoke, chairman, Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ogbomoso zone, said, “I am impressed by the unity in Ogbomoso.”
Dr Adegoke also emphasized on the need to install a new Soun, “I want to call on Governor Seyi Makinde to announce a new Soun of Ogbomoso and to fill other vacant stools in the zone. The lack of an Oba is causing us and costing us a lot.”
The programme was short but impactful, it indeed did not last more than two hours, both the Takie Square’s assemblage, the great march to Oja’gbo and the various speeches at the traditional city centre. “It only shows the readiness and determination of the people to fight terrorism,” someone commented as people dispersed with a renewed vigour to their various houses.