Some residents of Ayete in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State have narrated how Fulani warlord, Iskilu Wakili, terrorised them for 18 years before his eventual arrest by the police.
Wakili and his clansmen have been accused of being responsible for various kidnappings and killings in the past.
Members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and other local security groups arrested Iskilu earlier this month and handed him over to the police
The OPC said the arrest was carried out after several attempts, resulting in a gun battle.
There have been speculations around the identity of the aged man captured by the OPC members due to his frailty.
But in a Punch video, residents blamed the kidnappings, killings and other atrocities in the area on Wakili and his fellow Fulani herders.
The owner of the land where Wakili settled, Saubana Oyewole, said all allegations levelled against the Fulani warlord are true.
According to Oyewole, Wakili arrived at Igangan 18 years ago and occupied the land without paying a dime as he (Wakili) claimed that ‘the earth is the Lord’s’.
The landlord said several attempts to get Wakili to pay the rent was futile and he had to ignore him.
Oyewole, however, said his stay in the community brought nightmares to residents as he and other Fulani herders allegedly carried out several criminal activities.
The landlord said attempts to address the situation proved abortive as Wakili's men allegedly shot the emissaries sent to the Fulani community to deliver a letter inviting them for a peace meeting.
He said, “Iskilu Wakili arrived here and decided to stay on my piece of land. He didn't pay rent, when he came and settled there and I learnt about it, I asked people to go and call him. When he came, I asked how he acquired the piece of land, he said, 'the earth is the Lord's'. I said that's true but he gave some human beings the charge over it. He has been on that land for 18 years now. He never paid a dime and despite my requests for rent, he did not pay and I ignored him.
“All the allegations levelled against Wakili are true. It is not only Wakili, the Fulanis here are many, they commit all sorts of atrocities. When we wrote to them to have a peace meeting the last time, they shot the emissaries we sent to them.”
A resident of the area, who was also among the emissaries sent to the Fulanis, Ganiyu Omirinde, confirmed the herders shot at his team with pump-action rifles after they delivered the letter.
He said he didn't sustain any injury from the gunshot because he had already been fortified.
Omirinde said: “We went after Abu, the son of Wakili. Wakili is the father while the grandfather is Iskilu. When we went to submit the letter, I was among those sent because Iskilu's people know me and I know them. Immediately we got there with the letter, we asked after Abu and they said we should walk ahead to locate him. We got there but we didn't see Abu but when we got back, I gave them the letter and they accepted it but before we came out, they started shooting at us with a pump-action rifle.
“I can never have a scar on my body, I am duly fortified though I still have pains all over my body, I am just recovering. We went back there again to have some peace talks with them but they still came out with different weapons to attack us."
Explaining the reason behind the proposed peace meeting, Omirinde said the herders had made most of the residents in the area handicapped through various attacks.
He also alleged that the herders have destroyed the indigenes' farms such that the residents purchase food items from the Fulani people there.
“We called for a peace meeting because they have made our people handicapped with weapons, there are some they macheted, some they injured with wood. Aside from this, those who have farms, the herders with their cattle destroy the farms without paying a dime. Whatever food item we want to buy now, we buy from the Fulanis. We don't have any crops on our farms again.”
He also said ladies who go to the farm get raped brutally by over seven of the Fulani herdsmen at once among many other atrocities allegedly committed by the herders.
“Apart from this, they also rape ladies who go to the farm. Seven men might molest a single lady. They have looted many shops and destroyed many goods. My brother has a farm of 70 acres. He went there one day to harvest about a truckload of cassava but he was not allowed to leave there with anything. They wanted to kill him but he escaped via the Ogun State route. Just this year, they killed a policeman.”
Omirinde said the residents cannot report at the police station, alleging that the officers collect huge bribes from the herdsmen while the complainant gets locked up in the cell.
He said: “There is a police station at Ayete but we don't report there because the police will lock up the complainant after collecting a huge amount of money from the accused herder. The complainant will be bailed with about N50, 000, that's why no one has dared to go to the farm again.
“At the other farm, I left about 2 acres of a farm when my wife was sick. By the time I got back, the herders had finished the farm and we went to court. Wakili told the lawyer that he didn't want to leave our land, the judge asked us to give him another piece of land, I and some other people, including the chief took Wakili to a piece of land at Lajegbooro and when we got there, he said he was pleased with the land but he would have to tell his brother to inspect the land but till now, Wakili has not vacated our land.
“He did not buy a piece of land from us. We followed the instruction of the judge else we would have sent him packing. The court is Igboora High Court and that was three years ago.”
Omirinde said even if Wakili regains freedom from the police station, he should not come back to Ayete but rather go to his village.
“If he comes here, oppression will continue when his lieutenants come visiting. The cattle are on the farm grazing now with no one guarding them. We the farmers are at home while our cashew crops are being destroyed. Aside from this, the herders commit other atrocities.”
A female resident whose two children were allegedly attacked by the herders also shared her experience. Funmilayo Biliaminu said her two children were attacked by herders who collected N400, 000 from her children.
“On the 10th of this month, herders attacked my children on the farm and collected N400, 000 from them which was meant for their new year purchase. Government, please assist us," she said.
The residents pleaded with the governor of the state, Seyi Makinde, to come to their aid and deliver them from the herders' oppression.
Omirinde further added that the government should take the herders back to their hometown and leave Ayepe for the indigenes who are peace-loving individuals.
“Our conclusion is, Seyi Makinde-led government should have mercy on us and deliver us from Wakili and all the Fulani herders on Ibarapa land. The government should take them back to wherever they came from.
“We hardly recognise some of them now, they have nearly turned Yoruba because of how accommodating we are. If we were not accommodating, they dared not try all that they have done.”