Salihu Abdulkadir, the Seriki Fulani of Ibarapa, has said the Yoruba indigenes are responsible for the kidnappings that occurred in Igangan, situated in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, and not the Fulani dwellers.
Abdulkadir said this in an interview published on Sunday.
Igangan has been in the news in recent weeks following the rising spate of insecurity in the town, particularly kidnappings, and the subsequent eviction order issued to all Fulani by Sunday Adeyemo, a Yoruba rights activist popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
Youths who were said to be executing Igboho’s order to evict all persons of Fulani extraction had on 22 January, reportedly attacked communities occupied by the Fulanis in Igangan, killing three people and setting ablaze properties in the process, including the house of Abdukadir.
Narrating the sequence of events that occurred in Igangan in the last few weeks, the Seriki Fulani, who said he has lived in the town for over 50 years, said there was no quarrel between the indigenes and Fulani settlers for years until the recent kidnappings, and allegations and counter-allegations.
According to him, the indigenes were the ones who abducted their fellow people for ransom to the extent that some of the victims devised means to escape from captivity.
“There was a cordial relationship between us; we were living in harmony. I don’t know what caused the present strain in our relationship; it is not clear to me. But what I noticed is that the Ibarapa people suddenly didn’t want to see Fulani people around again,” Abdulkadir told the Punch.
“There was no quarrel between us; but I observed recently allegations that Fulani people were behind the kidnapping of the people in the area, which is a lie. From my findings, the people in Igangan were behind most of the kidnapping in the area. The indigenes were responsible for the kidnapping of the people and it came to a point that some of the victims were escaping from them. They then resorted to keeping the victims in their homes while negotiating for ransom with victims’ relations. I then made efforts to report them to the police both in Ibarapa and at the police headquarters in Ibadan.”
“There was one incident in which a Fulani man was abducted. We arranged for several vigilantes who discovered the house where the man was kept. Eight suspects were arrested in connection with the crime through police investigation. Out of the eight suspects, six are still in the police custody. One of them escaped but was rearrested. He is still with the police; he has not been taken to court. Four of those arrested are detained at Agodi Prison as I speak with you.”
Abdulkadir also refuted an allegation that he is a kingpin to the purported Fulani kidnappers in Igangan.
He insisted that he has always reported criminal cases to the police and challenged anyone with a contrary view to provide proof of his collaboration with the kidnappers.
He said: “This allegation is false. Whoever said so should come out and say it to my face. The person should name the people that I negotiated with kidnappers to release. I will be happy to see such a person who can come out and present a proof that I served as a negotiator and collected ransom for the kidnappers.
“There is nothing like that. I have been the person reporting cases of kidnapping of both Yoruba and Fulani victims in the area. The records are there with the police both in Eruwa and Ibadan. People should take the pain to find out. How can I be a godfather to the kidnappers?
“Majority of kidnapped victims in Ibarapa were Fulani people and if I count them, they are up to 24. Among them were those killed after the kidnappers collected ransom. On the other hand, the number of Yoruba that were kidnapped in Igangan cannot even be up to four.”
He added that there “was (a) collaboration between Fulani and the Yoruba people in the area” to kidnap Fulani herdsmen.
He also stated that he had never met Igboho prior to his arrival at Igangan, saying that Jambele, who he described as “one of the kidnappers”, invited the rights activist to the area.
Speaking on the eviction notice issued by Igboho and the aftermath, Abdulkadir said he informed the state’s Deputy Governor and the Commissioner of Police about the situation.
He, however, said the police officers assigned to him disappeared about five hours to the expiration of the notice, adding that a soldier informed him of the subsequent ambush on him and the Fulani community that was to occur shortly before the attack.
When asked if he informed the state government about the impending attack, he said: “I did my best. Immediately the incident happened, I went to the Deputy Governor, who, I believe, is a brother to Sunday Igboho, because they are from the same community. The Deputy Governor assured me that nothing would happen to me. I also went to the Commissioner of Police who assigned policemen to guard me.
“But few days to the expiration of the ultimatum by Sunday Igboho, I noticed that the policemen disappeared. A day to Sunday Igboho’s arrival, the Area Commander invited me and told me to settle the matter with Sunday Igboho amicably. But about five hours to the arrival of Sunday Igboho and the Area Commander, the Area Commander called me and told me to come and meet them. Then a soldier informed me of the ambush that Sunday Igboho had planned for me.
“Before I knew it, people bombarded my house with weapons and they burnt my house and killed six people. I also lost my only brother during the attack. We were only two from my mother. My brother was killed in the attack and up till now, we cannot go to the place to bury him.”