By Micheal Ofulue
People of the ancient towns of Ifon and IIobu in Osun State are now at loggerheads over a parcel of land. The conflict reportedly has sent over eight innocent residents to their early graves.
It was a tale of woes and helplessness for the residents who narrated their experiences following the bloody crisis that engulfed the two settlements in the past few days over ownership of the land.
Reports had it that no fewer than eight persons were killed in the communal clash while many others were injured with houses burnt and other property destroyed.
Some of the innocent people killed in war-like manner were reportedly hit by stray bullets fired by security operatives deployed to the communities to keep peace and restore normalcy.
Despite efforts made by security operatives to restore peace, there were reports of fresh hostilities by the warring communities who refused to sheathe their swords.
The situation made it difficult even for the security agents to access both Ilobu and Ifon as they stayed at the entrance while suspected hoodlums razed down houses and maimed people.
Some leaders of the affected communities accused the security agencies, especially the police of laxity and not making use of the intelligence given to them of renewed hostilities after the first curfew declared by the state government elapsed.
The State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Yemisi Opalola who quickly responded to the allegation of laxity, said police officers sent to the troubled region were ambushed by hoodlums and shot, adding that, “they burnt a new patrol van of police.”
“They accused us of taking side. It is unfortunate that the Monitoring Section van that was donated to us was burnt. Four of our men are in hospital now, they were shot. The Divisional Police Officer of Ilobu was among those who were shot. He was shot in the hand. But thanks to God, they are all responding to treatment. They ambushed policemen when our men attempted to broker peace in the area,” she stated
The Otun-Jagun of Ilobu, Leke Ogunsola, who spoke to newsmen on behalf of Ilobu community, said four lives, including a baby, had been lost to the crisis on the side of the town.
Also addressing journalists, the Secretary of Ifon-Orolu Progressive Union Board of Trustees, Jide Akinyooye said some people had been killed while several houses were razed during the attack on the town.
According to him, the community wanted the immediate removal of the State Police Commissioner, Mr Kehinde Longe, because he did not respond quickly enough despite a tipp off.
He said the gazette that ceded parts of the land belonging to Ifon to Ilobu during Rauf Aregbesola’s regime was the cause of the crisis.
His words: “we are in danger, we have tried to avoid reprisal attacks but the security agencies saddled with the responsibility of maintaining law and order refused to act appropriately.
Following the crisis between the two communities, the state government directed that the curfew already imposed should continue in order to maintain law and order.
The notice of curfew conveyed by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi, noted that the Governor had directed that the curfew on Orolu and Irepodun local governments be extended.
“The curfew is now from 6pm to 6am daily. Human and vehicular movement are to be restricted during the curfew till further notice.
“This is to forestall destruction of lives and property.
“Anyone caught wandering or moving around in Irepodun and Orolu local governments during the curfew will be arrested and prosecuted appropriately.
“Governor Ademola Adeleke reiterated the need for peace between the two communities.
To allow peace and order to reign, the two warring communities have signed a peace agreement with the State government to sheathe their swords.
While welcoming the development as a good omen towards lasting peace in the communities, the state government reaffirmed its earlier stand that the 24 hour curfew put in place subsists.
Announcing the truce reached by the two communities, Osun State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Oluomo Kolapo Alimi, on behalf the Executive Governor of Osun state, Senator Ademola Adeleke, stated as follows:
That Ifon and Ilobu communities of Orolu and Irepodun local governments respectively have agreed to sheathe their swords with immediate effect, following a signed Peace Agreement to stop the communal clashes.
“That notwithstanding this cheering development, Governor of Osun State in his capacity as the Chief Security Officer of the state, directs that the 24-hour curfew earlier imposed on Orolu and Irepodun local governments housing Ifon and Ilobu communities be continued until further notice.
“That the Peace pact agreement was arrived at during a stakeholders meeting between Osun State Government and leaders of the warring communities.
“That Osun State Government delegation to the peace agreement was led by the state Deputy Governor, Prince Kola Adewusi alongside the Secretary to the State Government, Teslim Igbalaye, and other top government officials .
“That Otun Olobu, Chief Jimoh Waliyu, the Esa of Ifon, Chief Babatunde Oyetunji and the representative of the third community of Olokanla, Mr Bashiru Azeez, with two other representatives from each of the communities, signed the peace agreement on behalf of their communities.
“That Governor Ademola Adeleke commended the resolve by the warring communities in putting pen on paper to say no to war and yes to peace in Ifon, Ilobu and Olokanla communities.
“That with the peace agreement reached, the 24-hour curfew should continue till a total restoration of peace, law and order in the communities is arrived at.
“That anyone or group of persons found or caught doing or saying anything contrary to the peace agreement would be prosecuted in line with the dictates of the law.
“That strict restriction of both human and vehicular movements in the affected areas and communities subsists, until otherwise directed by His Excellency, the State Governor and the Chief Security Officer of Osun State.
“That officers of the Joint Security Task Force comprising the Nigerian Army, Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and other security agents, as directed by His Excellency, are to remain on the 24 hour surveillance of the two communities with a view to ensuring a lasting peace.
“That as a government, the present administration will not stop at anything as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to protect the lives and properties of the people of Orolu and Irepodun local governments and by extension Osun State.
“That Osun State Government appreciates the leadership of Ifon and Ilobu communities as well as Olokanla for signing the peace agreement and finally that Osun State Government, for the umpteenth time commiserates with the families of victims of the communal clashes who lost their lives in the wake of the recent crisis.
However, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Eyitan Ogunwusi ,immediate past Governor of Osun State Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola and many other prominent indigenes of the state have appealed to the warring communities to give peace a chance and come to a round table to amicable resolution .