By Adebisi Onanuga, Tony Akowe, Abuja, Osagie Otabor, Akure, Rasaq Ibrahim, Ado-Ekiti, Alao Abiodun and AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna
There was an outrage on Tuesday in the House of Representatives over the weekend’s killing of over 20 people in Igangan, a rustic Oyo State village, by bandits.
Irked by the unprovoked invasion and murder of innocent residents, the Southwest Caucus in the House of Representatives urged the Federal Government to stem the wave of killings in the region and across the country.
According to the Caucus, failure to halt the trend of attacks and killings could herald anarchy.
However, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) said the tragedy could have been prevented by a concerted action by the security outfit, Amotekun.
His Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde said his administration will muster the strength to prevent a reoccurrence of violent attacks on Igangan and other communities in the state.
Lamenting the Igangan tragedy, Southwest Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) advised the Federal Government to seek assistance from the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) in tackling insecurity in the country.
Amid the tension, the Yoruba Welfare Group cautioned politicians to desist from instigating Yoruba against other ethnic groups.
Also, the coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) objected to the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) leader Aare Gani Adam’s remarks that the attack on Igangan was a declaration of war against the Southwest by the North.
The group said any attack on Northerners living in the South would not be acceptable.
Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) urged President Muhammad Buhari to take urgent and decisive steps to halt the barbaric killings at Igangan.
Falana made the request in a statement titled: “Halt the Brutal killing of Unarmed People of Igangan.”
He urged the government to post a team of mobile police personnel permanently in Igangan.
He said this has become necessary in view of information stating that security agencies were alerted last week of the planned attack on the people of Igangan by a gang of bandits.
“But as no preemptive action was taken the assailants struck and brutally killed about 20 people while properties worth hundreds of millions of Naira were destroyed.
“The members of the Amotekun security outfit who were armed with dane guns were unable to repel the AK 47 bearing bandits.”
Southwest Caucus leader Olufemi Fakeye, in a motion, urged the Police Inspector General to arrest and prosecute the assailants to prevent reoccurrence.
“Due to this last attack, residents of igangan Town and lbarapa axis of Oyo State, are relocating from the town or area in droves, which is likely to paralyse the economic and social activities of the town or area and has indeed paralysed them”.
Rep. Rotimi Agunsoye (Kosofe Constituency) said the government has failed in its responsibility to protect Nigerians, saying “what are we doing in government. It is high time something is done to stem the tide”.
In a similar motion, the House condemned the killing of about 130 people in Ado local government area of Benue State by gunmen believed to be Fulani Mercenaries.
Sponsor of the motion, Rep. Francis Agbo said communities like Ndobasi, Ataloga, Odoke, Ndigwe, Ekpufu in Ekile Ward was invaded by the gunmen who were believed to have carried out the heinous crime to avenge the killing of one Alhaji Isa Musa in Ataloga by four IPOB/ ESN members, while returning from the popular Ndobasi Market in Ekile Ward in February.
Akeredolu has said that an action from the Southwest Security Network, Amotekun Corps, could put an end to unprovoked killings.
He said the intentions of the Igangan attackers whom he termed ‘marauders and intruders’ were unknown.
Akeredolu, who spoke at the passing out parade of 503 fresh recruits into the Ondo Amotekun Corps, urged Amotekun Commanders in neighbouring states to put heads together and protect the people.
The event was part of the activities marking the first 100 days of Akeredolu’s second term.
Akeredolu urged local government chairmen to set up vigilance groups for the purpose of protecting the people.
He described crime as a local issue that should be addressed with a large dose of home-grown content.
He said: “I am happy that the Amotekun Initiative is combining local intelligence with artificial intelligence to raise their capacity in the fight against crime which has assumed a worrisome dimension. I am confident of the continued cooperation among our security agencies in the bid to continue to secure the lives and properties of the people. This I believe would be jointly carried out with Amotekun commanders in other States in the geopolitical zone. I wish to reassure you of my support. Let me reiterate that this is not a battle against any ethnic nationality but an uncompromising approach to deal with the forces against our unity and well-being.
Makinde, who visited the families of victims, said the state will empower local vigilante groups
He promised to do everything within his powers to safeguard the lives of residents of the state and prevent a recurrence of violent attacks on Igangan and other communities.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Taiwo Adisa, said Makinde, who was in Igangan with top government functionaries and the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, deplored the loss of lives.
He added that the government has been able to identify some lapses, urging the people to give his government the opportunity to address the situation and put in place the right architecture that will enable them to return to their normal lives without fear.
Makinde said: “I have told your chairman that all the vigilantes and security guards, the government will be responsible for them. This is your government, please give me the opportunity to do the needful so that a meeting like this would not come up again.
“I urge you to give me that chance to make the issue of insecurity here become a thing of the past. Don’t take laws into your hands. We have identified where there are hitches. We are supposed to be going to our farms by now because of the favourable weather. But hold me accountable, I have nowhere to go.
“I believe there are some certain things we put in place, which we think would work but unfortunately, they did not work. Please, give me some time, everything will be resolved.”
Urging the people not to engage in vengeful action, he said: “Please, don’t take laws into your hands. I urge all the families that lost their loved ones to this attack, because sometimes, emotion can really be high. Please, give us the opportunity to resolve this and make this place better for you.
“You must have seen the Light-up project we embarked on. We are doing it for us to be able to see everywhere, whether it is day or night. Well, there are people who don’t want good for our state and country at large, but I believe that God will show us mercy.
“Once again, I beg of you; give us the opportunity to come back and rebuild things and put a more solid architecture such that you will be able to go to farms and do whatever you want to do without fear. But, I should be held accountable. I am responsible for this and will do everything within my power to make sure that it will not happen again.”
Southwest PDP in a statement in Ado-Ekiti by the zonal Publicity Secretary, Chief Sanya Atofarati, lamented that the country has become a killing.
He described the killings as callous, wicked and unacceptable, urging security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities.
Atofarati said: “It is obvious that a failed state, called Nigeria is in a state of war as the entire country suddenly turned to a killing field under the watch of a retired army General.
“We are now calling for urgent international action particularly AU and UN against this inept and clueless government to wade in before the country descent to another Somali. It is better to be late than be sorry”, it said.
Activist Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) blamed villagers and Ibarapa monarchs for their lack of unity.
He stormed Igangan to assess the level of destruction, emphatised with the villagers.
Igboho in the now-viral video obtained by The Nation while speaking with Oba Onidio of Idio, Oyo State, said the lack of unity among monarchs and villagers in securing villages gave the suspected herders leverage to carry out gruesome attacks in the village.
He said: “I pray this would be the last one, these herders took advantage of the fact that they were accommodated and also the lack of unity among the villagers made the village open to attack.
“Many of the killer herders who were chased away from Igangan, camped in Igboora, Eruwa and that was where they mobilised to attack Igangan again, which is not meant to be so.”
Igboho said that he initially did not want to interfere with the Igangan crisis again because the monarchs were not forthcoming with their cooperation.
He noted that his presence in Igangan caused security operatives to increase surveillance in the village because they had thought he was coming for a reprasial attack against the herders.
The Yoruba Welfare Group warned politicians against inciting Yoruba against other ethnic group.
Its National President, Comrade Abdulhakeem Adegoke Alawuje, who visited Igangan, said: “Prof Akintoye should refrain from toying with Yoruba life’s and property, Yoruba land needs more committed security than political manipulations.
“We should rather combine all our strength in Yoruba land to come together with some of those who are professional security with national and international experience to rescue our land we need to start moving beyond what the Amotekun knows about security”.
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) cautioned the Aare Adams, who was reported to have said that, the killings at Igangan was a declaration of war on the Southwest by the North.
Its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, warned that any attack against northerners in any part of the south would not be acceptable.
He said: “We find it outrageous for Adams to so readily attribute the attacks to the North whereas the actual attackers have not yet been officially identified.
“For Adams to just jump to such a conclusion that the attacks were carried out by the North and even call it a declaration of war speaks volumes of the mindset of the typical southerner against the entire northern region.”