Ajaawa crisis: Council boss replies Ade Master, declares, ‘Why I won’t answer police invitation,’ faults police
The Executive Chairman of Ogo-Oluwa local government, Hon. Seun Ojo, in this interview by ogbomosoinsightonline.com, speaks on the Ajaawa mayhem that has seen people murdered and kidnapped and which also led to police storming his residence yesterday to summon him and Alajaawa of Ajaawa, Oba Thompson Adeyeye Oyetunji, to Abuja.
What is happening in Ajaawa because we learnt that yesterday, policemen who were said to be from the Inspector General of Police – the Intelligence Response Team unit – stormed the town to effect your arrest and that of Kabiyesi Alajaawa of Ajaawa, Oba Thompson Adeyeye Oyetunji, in which your gatekeeper and the Secretary of Alajaawa were whisked away?
I am fed up with the situation. I wasn’t around when it occurred, I was in Ibadan. It was my wife that called me very early in the morning that some people came from Abuja numbering about forty banging on the gate that they should open the gate or else they would break the door open. They said the visitors demanded to see me. And since we have no skeleton in our cupboard my wife opened the door to them. When they couldn’t see me they started to rummage the whole house; the ceiling, under my bed, my children’s room, every corner was turned upside down but they couldn’t find anything incriminating and so they arrested one of the Vigilante Group of Nigerian (VGN) men providing security in my house, I had to resort to the use of vigilante men because there is no police in Ajaawa any longer. As chairman, I have no police security detail so I had to resort to the use of alternatives. My wife told me the men brought a letter from Abuja. The way the letter was addressed shows some machinations, though I am chairman, an elected chairman for that matter, I was addressed as an ordinary person in the letter, no deference for my office, just ‘Mr. Oluwaseun Ojo,’ no reference to my office, instead they used my family compound name. That is suspicious.
I was told they fired gunshots sporadically forcing our neighbours to running helter-skelter. And I was told Ade Master led the team to my house. I demanded why they had cometo my house, they said they wanted to see me at Abuja along with someone calling himself ‘Adeyeye,’ the person I spoke with on phone said. I asked ‘who is Adeyeye? Because the only person I knew bearing resemblance to that name – Adeyeye – is our Oba, Alajaawa.’ His own letter was addressed as ‘Mr. Thompson Adeyeye Oyetunji,’ that is our Kabiyesi o, he was addressed as Mr. Adeyeye. I asked my wife to receive the letter nonetheless. If they wanted to write me as chairman, it should have been taken to the council secretariat, it should not have been to my house and they should have addressed it to the chairman not as ordinary person. Anyway, I asked it should be collected. But why should they be firing gunshots in my house on account of a community matter? Will I be the first person to be chairman and would I be the last and why should they be firing gunshots in my house? Moreover, what is the matter, that Ade Master would lead policemen to be shooting at my residence?
Could it be that your security guards first fired shots at the visitors?
That is not possible. Why will my security guards do that after all the men were in police uniforms? The men even claimed as we discussed on phone that I was arrogant on the phone but I countered, does someone exhibit arrogance on phone? After they left my place they went to Ajaawa, and alighted at the market square and started shooting scaring people and causing another round of chaos and pandemonium as people took to their heels. From there, they headed to the Oba’s residence but the Oba was not around, he had gone to attend a programme, they met his secretary. Even at the palace they scaled the fence because if Kabiyesi is not around the gate is always locked, so they jumped over the fence. They took away the Oba’s secretary; they were said to have also gone to Osupa (a nearby village) to arrest two persons but those ones were released along the way on bail, I learnt.
My question now is what is our offence in Ajaawa that the police now frequent our place in combat mode? More so, what is Kabiyesi’s offence is it because he is installed as king? Or what is my misdemeanour? Is it because I was elected chairman? Why should you engage in indiscriminate shooting at my residence when you can just invite me, moreover, I am the chief security officer of a local government council? Do you want to remove the chief security officer to undermine security in the council area or what is the idea?
But there are allegations against Ajaawa people that they killed a policeman and that some people committed arson against Ade Master, how will you react to this?
Well, I heard it also, you see, the crisis has been on since a few months ago. The genesis of the saga is that they kidnapped a man in Ajaawa called Agbo, his real name is Kunle Oyelakin, he is a former legislative leader in the council, that was on April 24 this year. He was abducted with his wife and children, about nine of them; before they were released, he paid a ransom of about N4.5m. Secondly, two weeks after, son of the Chief Imam of Ajaawa, who was a popular butcher, Lamidi Amuda a.k.a. Seriki Eleran, was also kidnapped. He was lured by some strange men into the bush where he was brutally murdered; his corpse was discovered four days later. Those two separate incidents heightened anxiety and tension in the town and so, every strange face became a suspect, unfortunately that was when some people who claimed to be policemen came in the dead of the night saying they wanted to arrest Babanifa on May 27th. They entered the town between 12am and 12:30am. The armed men were suspected to be kidnappers as they started firing shots repeatedly, they laid siege to the residence of Chief Adeoye Ifaleye, the Araba Oluawo of Ajaawaland, a.k.a. Babanifa. So, the people of Ajaawa thought they were another gang of kidnappers, and so, they mobilized to foil the attack. Angry youths blocked the road and overpowered the attackers. I wasn’t on ground that day. They pursued the suspected men to the Ajaawa Police headquarters. In a twinkle, angry residents of Ajaawa and neighbouring communities had bombarded the police station spoiling to deal with the men. One of them was roughly beaten. Three others had to hide in the ceiling at the station. I am the one that God used that day to calm the people and save the men, after being told by the Area Commander, Owode Police headquarters in Ogbomoso that the men were policemen from Abuja. I later visited the wounded officer and footed his hospital bills. I thereafter called a meeting in which the matter was settled at the police station so as to restore peace and harmony; I gave stern warning to the people of the town to desist from violence. They professed the matter was settled but later they sent to us that the Oyo State Commissioner for Police had requested to see us; myself, Ade Master, Alajaawa and Babanifa. We went and we resolved it amicably. Peace and normalcy returned, schools, mosques and churches were opened.
Then, at exactly 1:15am on June 28, another team of heavily armed men said again to be police officers who were conveyed in four Sienna buses and one Saloon car, invaded Ajaawa, and were led by Prince Gideon Adeoye Oyekunle a.k.a. Ade Master. They reportedly booked at the Area Command office at Owode and they first went to the house of one Mr. Areo Enoch and later to Mr. Oyeniran Jacob a.k.a. Patanla. After their arrest they went to the house of Araba Oluawo, Chief Ifaleye. He was stabbed to death after bullets could not penetrate his body, he reportedly killed one of them also. His corpse, his wife, son, Patanla and Mr. Enoch were taken away.
That is what led to our save-our-soul press briefing in Ibadan in which we asked Nigerians to save us from the police. That what is our offence that you will be launching raids in the midnight, has anyone committed any offence?
Why did you allege Ade Master as being behind the whole crisis in the press briefing?
During the time, there was a day youths in the town carried out demonstration and while they passed through Ade Master’s residence, his security guards killed a young man, an indigene, this is what stoked the anger of the youths as I was told, to burn Ade Master’s residence. They also attacked his shrine because all along people had been suspecting the activities going on in the shrine, which he calls work place. Babanifa is now dead and we couldn’t find his corpse. They went with other indigenes. So, we thought of what to do, we spoke with the governor and he asked us to speak with the CP and so, we felt we should not hide the matter again, that is why we held the press conference. The reason we suspected Ade Master is that what does he really want? Why is he the one leading the attacks by men said to be policemen. He is a Babalawo, yes, we know, but why would he go about blaring siren, firing gunshots as he drives past, is it because he is given police details and why should he be given police as security and using police plate number? Those are the questions we asked at the press conference.
He is leading the men perhaps because he suffered personal losses
What I believe is that if his security people did not kill that young man, he wouldn’t have been victim of arson.
But should people take law into their hands?
I had said they were wrong, that no one can take laws into his hand. It is wrong. But it was a mob action. I was almost attacked too. Ade Master is an indigene and you too you are indigenes, it shouldn’t have degenerated to that extent but they kept saying he killed one of them unprovoked. What I understand is that most of the culprits were not residents; it could have been hijacked by his opponents. We know ourselves in Ajaawa. As chairman, I want peace to be restored. So, why should it be me, who is seeking the restoration of peace that will be pursued with guns.
What is the next thing now, are you answering the police summon?
How do you expect us to answer the summoning? They came and started shooting? They didn’t meet us at home and whisked away our aides, despite our positions, me, as the first person and chief security officer in Ogo-Oluwa local government, they started shooting at my residence when I am not a criminal and despite Kabiyesi being a first class traditional ruler and chairman of Ogo-Oluwa Local Government Traditional Council. That is suspicious.
The 17 governors in southern Nigeria held a meeting last week in which they demanded that before such sting operations are carried out by security operatives henceforth the governor of the state should be informed, are you aware whether the Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde was aware of yesterday’s operation?
The governor didn’t know, I am the eyes of the governor in Ogo-Oluwa, I am his ears, I represent him here, I didn’t know and the governor did not know. But why are the policemen launching nocturnal raids on Ajaawa? That is what we don’t know.
What step are you going to take now? Are you going to Abuja?
Number one, the people who wrote the letter I don’t think they knew I am the chairman, an elected one at that, because the letter was devoid of appropriate protocols. So, my lawyer is going to write them that this person is the chairman of a council, and he is the chief security officer of his council, if you are going to summon him, you invite him as chairman, not as ordinary person, protocols must be observed. Secondly, the second person is a Kabiyesi, a first class traditional ruler, who is chairman of the traditional council in the local government area. So, if you are going to address him, it must be as Oba not as “Mr.” So, we believe there are people behind the scene manipulating the situation. As the number one citizen in the council and as chief security officer, who must report the situation of things to the governor especially in this period of general insecurity in the country, I can’t proceed to Abuja on a matter like that except with the express permission of the governor. So, I will make clarification from the governor and also my lawyers will write them. The people that stormed my house, firing gunshots, what do I know they would do if I go there.
It is said that Ajaawa has been deserted, how true is this?
Well, presently, there is no single policeman at the Ajaawa Divisional Police headquarters, so, you can’t expect people to be confident of staying in such area.
What step are you taking to make them return to their duty post because it is getting to two, three weeks now?
I have met with the Commissioner for Police and he had promised to return the men to the station. I am also going to meet the governor on it. Where there is no security, there can’t be peace.