Customs spokesperson, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Theophilus Duniya in a statement on Saturday said smugglers attacked after they were sighted by customs officers in eight trucks conveying contraband items.
“The injured Customs Officers who are operatives of the Zone A, Federal Operations Unit, sighted eight trucks carrying smuggled foreign parboiled rice whose drivers and armed accompanying passengers launched an attack on the officers.
“One of the attackers was shot and disarmed while the others retreated with their smuggled wares,” the statement read in part.
The attackers were however repelled by the joint efforts of local vigilante groups.
The statement added that an investigation has been launched to arrest and prosecute the attackers and the attacked customs officers and a soldier, including one that was shot in the head, are receiving treatment.
Acting Controller of the Unit, DC Usman Yahaya, condemned the attack and reiterated the resolve of the service to suppress smuggling.
The Unit, according to the Acting Controller, will never relent or be intimidated by attacks carried out by criminal elements unlawfully bearing arms and unleashing same on officers on legitimate duties.
Igangan has been under the spotlight for more than five years with clashes erupting intermittently between farmers and herders.
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, on Tuesday, declared that he would do everything within his powers to safeguard the lives of residents of the state.
Governor Makinde said his government would do everything possible to prevent a recurrence of violent attacks on Igangan and other communities.
Makinde made this declaration in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government, where he visited the families of last weekend’s attacks, stating that the state would empower local security guards and vigilantes in addition to other measures taken to ensure that insecurity becomes a thing of the past in Ibarapaland.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Governor Makinde, who was in Igangan with top government functionaries and the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin deplored the loss of lives.
He added that the government has been able to identify areas where there are lapses, calling on the people to give his government the opportunity to address the situation and put in place the right architecture that will enable them to return to their normal lives without fear.
“I have told your chairman that all the vigilantes and security guards, the government will be responsible for them. This is your government, please give me the opportunity to do the needful so that a meeting like this would not come up again.
“I urge you to give me that chance to make the issue of insecurity here become a thing of the past. Don’t take laws into your hands. We have identified where there are hitches. We are supposed to be going to our farms by now because of the favourable weather. But hold me accountable, I have nowhere to go.
“I believe there are some certain things we put in place, which we think would work but unfortunately, they did not work. Please, give me some time, everything will be resolved.”
Governor Makinde, who promised that his government would work through the sad situation together with the people of the community, stated that it is the last time such a bad occurrence would take place in Igangan.
The governor said: “It is not a situation where there is any magic we can do. We have to work through this and work together through it. But I promise you, this is the last time anything like this will ever happen here. It is a promise I am making to you, and it is a promise I will come through with.
Please, don’t take laws into your hands. I urge all the families that lost their loved ones to this attack, because sometimes, emotion can really be high. Please, give us the opportunity to resolve this and make this place better for you.
“You must have seen the Light-up project we embarked on. We are doing it for us to be able to see everywhere, whether it is day or night. Well, there are people who don’t want good for our state and country at large, but I believe that God will show us mercy.
“Once again, I beg of you; give us the opportunity to come back and rebuild things and put a more solid architecture such that you will be able to go to farms and do whatever you want to do without fear. But I should be held accountable. I am responsible for this and will do everything within my power to make sure that it will not happen again.”
Senator Kola Balogun has called on the Federal Government to grant the South West Security Network codenamed Amotekun the license to bear arms.
The lawmaker who represents Oyo South Senatorial District made the call on Monday when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“Let me also say that I am aware that the Amotekun personnel have requested that the Inspector-General of Police grant them the license to be well-equipped. As we speak now, they are not as equipped as these invaders who are savages and who go on the rampage,” Senator Balogun explained.
“I appeal to the IG and the police to grant them (Amotekun personnel) the license to be well-equipped as long as what they are doing is in support of what the police is doing.”
Clashes between herders and farmers in the southwest have made front pages in recent months, raising concerns over the ability of security agencies to maintain law and order.
But the lawmaker while condemning the incident, lauded the Amotekun operatives and other local vigilante groups, explaining that the situation could have been worse if not for their intervention.
“Amotekun is active and Amotekun is working even with the police. As a matter of fact, the situation would have been worse but for Amotekun and other local security outfits because from the report that I got, the people that came to invade had bigger plans than what happened,” he added while noting that Amotekun now has a joint patrol across the region.
“It was the community, the Amotekun, the local vigilantes that were mobilised in the middle of the night even though they were ambushed because they were not expecting them but they actually mitigated the effect of the damage.”
Ibarapa has been under the spotlight recently over clashes erupting intermittently between farmers and herders, resulting in deaths and injuries.
Ethnic tensions are not uncommon in Nigeria where more than 250 ethnic and linguistic groups live side by side.
Clashes erupted in nearby Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, back in February, between a group of Yoruba who dominate the region and traders from the Hausa community, who mainly hail from Nigeria’s north.
Southern states have seen a surge in intercommunity tensions in recent months over northern Fulani herders who move south for grazing cattle, often putting them in conflict with local farmers.
Fiery rhetoric from some southern officials blaming northern Fulani for a surge in crime and kidnappings in their regions has stoked tensions.
President Muhammadu Buhari has previously warned against using ethnicity for political leverage, but some regional leaders accuse him of not acting decisively because he is himself an ethnic Fulani.
The special adviser to Oyo State governor on Security Matter, Fatai Owoseni, has appealed to residents and Nigerians generally to be cautious in their speech and not beat drums of war following the tension in Igangan, Ibarapa Local Government Area of the state.
Owoseni made the appeal on Monday during an interview on Channels Television Breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
He said the tension may be escalated by people who are not responsible in their comments and give wrong narration, especially on social media.
“We must restore confidence in our people and not for people to make reckless comments. Both ways, people are saying Sunday Igboho has said things which ought not to have been said. And we have some people who are being paid with public funds also responding on behalf of a socio-cultural group. Is that reasonable? Is that responsible at all?
“All of us must guide what we say. If we continue to drum the beats of war – If we are talking of war, we don’t know where war will start and we don’t know where it will end. Some of them have not seen it before. Some of us have seen it before. If you think that when it happens you have where to run to. It may not be so,” Owoseni said.
He added that people must be “responsible in their comments and not just fanning the embers of disunity.”
He also spoke concerning the success of police authorities who he revealed has made some arrests following reports of kidnapping in Igangan noting that ransoms were also recovered.
“I will start with the case of kidnapping that led to the death of that young man who went with a friend to the farm.
“People were arrested. They also confessed that this person working for this person asked us to do this. The Chairman of one of the LCDA was kidnapped, people were arrested. In some of the cases, part of the ransom was also recovered,” Owoseni who is also a former commissioner of police in Lagos State explained.
– Igangan Violence –
Residents of Igangan in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State have cried out following the increased rate of security challenges in their community. They claimed the attacks were carried out by herdsmen in the community.
Violence however broke out on Friday after an activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly as Sunday Igboho held a public air meeting in the community. This sparked violence as angry residents stormed the Fulani settlement in the ancient town to eject Seriki Fulani and herdsmen accused of perpetrating various crimes including kidnappings, rape, and invasion of farmlands with their cattle.
During the crisis, the Seriki Fulani of Igangan and his family members were evicted from the town, and their property set on fire.
– Authorities Sue For Peace –
In response to the violence, the Oyo State Government and police authorities on Sunday sued for peace calling all stakeholders to embrace dialogue and desist from the wanton destruction of lives and livelihood.
Governor Seyi Makinde who was represented by a delegation led by his Special Adviser on Security, Fatai Owoseni, appealed to all to find a way to return communal tolerance and understanding to fight off attacks from bandits and kidnappers.
The Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko in her address at Igangan, Tede and Ago Are communities, said the constant fight within neighborhoods which has led to the destruction of public and private property must stop.
The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Ngozi Onadeko, has called for calm in the state, promising that action will be taken against those behind the recent violence and ethnic tension in the state.
“Investigation into the arson and the breach of the peace, which occurred at Igangan will be investigated to logical conclusion and culprits shall be brought to justice,” read part of a statement issued on behalf of the commissioner by the command’s spokesperson, CSP Fadeyi Olugbenga, on Saturday.
The police boss, who blamed the situation in the state on “the inciting pronouncement of Chief Sunday Adeyemo, A.K.A Sunday Igboho”, warned that security agencies will not watch while some criminal elements take laws into their hands.
The statement, however, did not confirm or deny a report that the Inspector-General of Police had ordered Adeyemo’s arrest.
Adeyemo had issued a quit notice to herders in the state and on Friday held a rally in Igangan to buttress his position.
According to the police the rally is responsible for the violence which resulted in houses and cars being burnt in the town.
“Following the fear of threats to public peace, occasioned by the inciting pronouncement of Chief Sunday Adeyemo, A.K.A Sunday Igboho, the Oyo State Police Command jointly with the Operation Burst had embarked on visibility/confidence building patrol of the areas concerned,” the police said.
“Sadly, the relative peace and calmness, being enjoyed, due to the visibility patrols of the Security Agencies were truncated by the visit of Sunday Igboho to Igangan, at about 16:30hrs [4:30 pm] on 22nd January 2021.
“The visit had culminated in a mob action by some youths in the town, who, armed with different types of weapons, embarked on arson and a breach of peace. In the process, grievous hurt was committed against one of the police officers, while discharging his statutory duties.”
While investigating the situation and trying to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the state, the police appealed for calm.
The CP called on well-meaning and peace-loving elders in the community to caution and advise restive youths to sheath their swords and shun violence in addressing the complex situation at hand.
She also urged the youths to avoid being used as pawns to ignite an ethnic war.
Warning people against taking laws into their hands, the police said that a “substantial number of suspects (of different ethnic backgrounds)” were arrested in connection with virtually all the cases of kidnapping or assassination, which had occurred in the State.
Some have been arraigned in court and are being remanded in correctional facilities, while investigations are still ongoing in some of the cases.
As tensions escalated on Friday in the Ibarapa axis of the state when Igboho visited Igangan, the Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, vowed that his government will not allow anyone to cause ethnic tension or harass anyone carrying out legitimate business in the state.
The Governor, who made the comments when the new police boss in Oyo state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, paid him a courtesy visit in his office, urged her to ensure the police arrest miscreants causing tension and threatening the peace of the state.
“For people stoking ethnic tension, they are criminals and once you get them, they should be arrested and treated like common criminals,” Makinde said.
“For this administration, the major pillar for us is security, because we know that all the good economic plans we have won’t be possible in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.
“So, when people say things that are neither lawful nor within the spirit of Nigeria’s Constitution, it is not acceptable here. And they cannot hide under the guise of protecting Yoruba’s interest to perpetuate chaos in the state.
“I am sure that since you came in, you must have heard about some things happening at Ibarapa axis of the state. I will still say it here that we are not after Hausa-Fulani. We are after criminals.
“We are after hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribe, religion, or creed. Those are the people we are after. If you look into the records, when we had the armed robbery incident at Okeho in Kajola Local Government Area of the state, some people were killed, some were arrested and we found out that they were from Ebira, from Kogi State. So, we want to go after the criminals – whether they are Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, or whomever they are.”
Two houses at the Fulani settlement have been burnt along with three vehicles following the tension that rocked the Igangan area of Oyo State on Friday.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the state, Gbenga Fadeyi, confirmed this to Channels Television on Saturday evening, adding that one policeman was injured in the incident.
Fadeyi, however, noted that there was no fatality.
He said investigations have since commenced into the matter while efforts are on to return normalcy to the area.
Trouble began on Friday after a youth leader from the Oke Ogun axis, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Igboho went with his supporters to warn the Fulani community that banditry, kidnapping and killing of people in the area would no longer be tolerated.