No fewer than 13 communities in Ayete, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State have been deserted following series of attacks by a gang allegedly led by one Iskilu Wakili, who was recently arrested by a combined team of local vigilante and men of Oodua People’s Congress, OPC.
Though the alleged ringleader of the group, Wakili, has been arrested, findings revealed that ‘boys’ allegedly loyal to him are still at work.
When our correspondent visited Kajola, where Wakili resided until his arrest last week, it was discovered that the village and neighbouring villages have been deserted.
Other villages deserted include Ilede-Idefa, Afunje, Dagbere, Konko, Onilari, Magbeje, Gbamongere, Baba-Pupa, Abule Atan, Baba Sego and Olukosi.
There was no single soul when our correspondent visited the villages last Thursday.
It was difficult to get a motorcyclist that volunteered to take him to the communities. After a series of appeals, the motorcyclist agreed to embark on the journey.
Kajola is about 25 kilometers to Ayete.
One of the motorcyclists, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “What exactly are you looking for in Kajola? The village is like a war zone. You have to fortify yourself before going to Kajola. Though Wakili has been arrested, one of his sons, identified as Abu, who escaped arrest, is still said to be terrorising Kajola and environs alongside his father’s boys”.
Another rider advised our correspondent not to risk his life going to Kajola, saying it was a risky journey.
“These Fulani boys can hide on trees and attack unsuspecting people,” he cautioned.
The Baale of Itamofin Ayete, Chief Saubana Oyewole, said many people had left the villages owing to the fear of Wakili.
Oyewole said, “The fear of Wakili has made my people leave all the villages. They have all relocated to towns. I would not blame them, because anything can happen. The Wakili boys always attack.
“Residents of neighbouring villages had to vacate their houses and relocate to other places.”
Giving insight into the activities of Wakili, the monarch said Wakili settled in Kajola about 18 years ago without the knowledge of anyone.
“When I got wind of his presence in Kajola, which is one of the villages under my jurisdiction, I invited him to my palace. He honored my invitation and I asked the person that permitted him to settle in Kajola”, he narrated.
“He told me that all lands belong to God. I told him that though all lands belong to God, he puts them under the administration of some people and by the grace of God, Kajola is under my watch. He left that day.
“After some years, I started hearing about his alleged notorious activities in the area. I attempted to send him away from the place. All efforts to send him packing proved abortive as he refused to leave.
“I filed a ‘quit case’ in an Oyo State High Court about four years ago, but when the matter got to a stage, the judge in charge of the case advised that it will be better if we settled the matter out of court because of a series of attacks in other parts of the country.
“I accepted the advice of the judge and withdrew the case. I invited his lawyer and my lawyer to iron out the matter. We agreed to give him another piece of land where he will relocate to. At the end of the day, he didn’t honour the relocation agreement.
“Wakili and his men have destroyed all our farms. Their cattle eat all crops planted. With this, hunger and poverty loom in Oyo State.
“They kill people at will and rob them of their belongings.
“The most painful aspect of farm destruction is that nothing happened to all farms that belong to Fulani people in all the affected villages, except the farms that belong to us, Yoruba”.
Consequently, Oyewole appealed to government to come to the aid of his people who are farmers.
“I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Seyi Makinde to come to the aid of farmers in affected villages”, he said. “As it is, my people don’t have what they will eat this year because their cattle have eaten up all crops they planted.
“Both Federal and Oyo State governments should find a means of compensating them. If nothing is done, poverty will ravage our land this year.
‘’The Federal Government should find lasting solution to the incessant attacks by Fulani herders. Open grazing should be outlawed in this country. The system is obsolete”.