The Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Oyo State, Alhaji Ibrahim Jiji, on Monday said though it is true that his team planned to raid some forests with the men of Amotekun Corps, they carried out the raid without vigilantes in his association.
He appealed to the Oyo State government to release 46 Fulani in police custody, saying they are members of Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) securing people in Ibarapa land.
Jiji, who stated this at a press conference in Ibadan on Monday, said the arrested vigilantes were among the people invited to rescue some kidnap victims in the area.
SaharaReporters had reported the controversy surrounding the alleged killing of a 70-year-old man and his two sons in the Ibarapa area of the state on Saturday.
Explaining how they were arrested, Jiji said; "They invited us to a meeting in Ibadan where they told us that they needed our support to fight insecurity in Ibarapa area. We told them we were going to give them 50 among our vigilantes who are Fulani.
"They have been doing the vigilante job for a very long time, therefore they know how to arrest criminals. When the Amotekun operatives were about to leave for the operation, we were still in Eruwa with some of our men who were vigilantes when we heard they had attacked the village. That was when those of us who are leaders went to the village. When we got there, we saw that three people had already been killed. When I saw the incident, I approached the commandant of Amotekun to know his view on the incident.
"I asked why they didn't wait for us but he didn't answer me. We called our men who were waiting for us in Eruwa to leave the venue of our meeting and return to their homes because Amotekun had done something else. Our plan was not to kill anybody. In the evening of the same day (Saturday), one of the vigilantes called to tell that two people were kidnapped in Igangan area of the state; we called the vigilantes and told them that they should go and search for the criminals that kidnapped those children but that they must inform police before going. While going there, they were arrested in Igangan.
"They called to tell us that some soldiers had arrested them. They told us that the commander of the troop had left for palace of Seriki Igangan. Returning from the palace, the commandant just arrested them and took them to police station. Those who were going to fight criminals are the set of the people they are parading as criminals. Those people are not criminals; they are the people securing us. They are registered vigilantes and they are working with the police and other security agencies.
"The 46 vigilantes that were arrested have been useful for the state for many years. All the 46 vigilantes are not criminals; they are the people arresting criminals. Even those criminals arrested by our men are with police as we speak.
Thief is thief and not Fulani. Tribe is different from criminals. We are ready to work with Oyo State government to stop criminality in the state.
"I am appealing to state government to leave these people (alone). They are not thieves. They are the people who are securing us because we may need them another time. Why we want them to include our members in Amotekun is because of language barrier. We appeal to Oyo State government to include people from other tribes in Amotekun for the job to be efficient.
"I am not happy about the killing of the old man by Amotekun killed. He was over 70 years old when they killed him with his two children. I am not happy about what happened at all. He was an Alfa and had been there for over 45 years before he was killed."