“They came to arrest a suspect and they started shooting into the air even when there was no evidence of resistance from the suspect.” This was the opinion of a resident over the incident that happened in the sleepy town of Ajaawa, near Ogbomoso, headquarters of Ogo-Oluwa local government, last week Thursday when suspected kidnappers stormed the town and started shooting repeatedly in front of the residence of a respected elder of the town.
Just getting over similar occurrences in which a family of nine was kidnapped in the town and only released after payment of ransom and the missing of a butcher with the subsequent discovery of his decomposing bodies five days after, thus, another brazen attempt to kidnap in broad daylight, at about 1:30pm, on the fateful day, was met with stiff resistance by the youths of the town.
Ajaawa is reputed for its strong African science and the emerging scenario of kidnap in the community is thus tantamount to a slap on the people of the town.
A resident who also does not want his name in print speaking on this embarrassment submitted, “People, I have found out, have been making jest of us that we only are verse in harmful juju and not one to deliver ourselves from kidnapers and other evils. That is not palatable.”
So, it was perhaps a wrong strategy for the latest hoodlums to have struck in broad daylight. The repeated sound of gunshots in front of a house occupied by a popular Ifa priest identified simply as Babanifa said to be a respectable elderly man was therefore like a war cry to the agitated and rearing-to-go youth.
They poured out from their respective homes to counter the assailants, and they successfully repelled and overpowered them. In the process, they apprehended four while the others that escaped reportedly ran towards the police station.
Not wanting to mete out jungle justice, the four suspects were taken to the Ajaawa Divisional Police headquarters. But when they got there the story changed.
The police went in defence of the arrested gunmen asserting that they were operatives from the Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) headed by Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police.
The police reportedly explained that the arrested gunmen had come to effect the arrest of the said Babanifa from the IGP-IRT unit.
But a community leader in Ajaawa who spoke under conditions of anonymity posited, “If they were truly policemen, and from Abuja, the Ajaawa police command should have been notified before embarking on the mission and policemen from the station made to accompany them,” further querying, “How would they just come and start shooting when you have not even accosted the man in question? The whole thing is fishy.”
Another community leader, vouching for the character of Babanifa, stated, “This man they said they came to arrest is a respected elder in the community. We never suspected him of any foul play. We believe that is a cooked up story.”
Babanifa is said to be from Ife-Odan in Osun state and had lived in Ajaawa for years without him having any problem with his hosts. He was even said to have participated fully in the recent three-day prayer and fasting programme called by the Ajaawa leaders that involved adherents of the three religions, following the earlier two kidnap incidents in the community. “It is strange the police claimed the suspected kidnappers came to arrest him. It is more than meet the eye.”
When contacted on phone, the Alaajawa, Oba Thompson Adeyeye Oyetunji, confirmed the incident saying it was a hectic moment in Ajaawa. “But our youths responded gallantly by foiling the attempt.”
The Oba added, “We went through a lot before we could persuade the angry youths as they were bent on interrogating the “suspects” themselves and you know what this could lead to.”
Meanwhile, the arrested suspects are still with the police.