LEGAL practitioner and human rights activist, Comrade Femi Aborisade, has penned an open petition to the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mrs Ngozi Onadeko, over what he described as “indiscriminate arrest and detention” of two operatives of the state vigilante corps, Amotekun.
In the petition entitled; “An Open Petition Against Indiscriminate Arrest and Detention of Mr. Idowu Afo (Amotekun Coordinator) and Mr. Ibikunle Ayoola (Amotekun Operations Commander), Comrade Aborisade said the two operatives were arrested on Friday, March 5, 2021 and are being detained at the Iyaganku Police Station in connection with Farmers-herders conflict.
According to Aborisade, Mr Afo and Ayoola had on Wednesday, 3rd March 2021 led some operatives of Amotekun to Gbedu, a community in Itasa, Iwajowa LGA of Oyo State, where there was a reported conflict between some herders and farmers with the intention to invite a herder, one Alhaji Audu Yellow, for discussion over an allegation that his herd of cattle had destroyed a farm belonging to one Mr Ogungbenro Lateef.
It was alleged that Alhaji Yellow had uprooted cassava and yam tubers on the farm of Mr Lateef, and fed them to his herd of cattle.
“The Serikin Fulani in Gbedu, Bande Chumo, cooperated with the Amotekun operatives in persuading Alhaji Audu Yellow to accompany the Amotekun operatives to their office in Ilaji Ile for discussions over compensation in accordance with the existing terms of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the host Itasa community and Fulani herder settlers.
“When Alhaji Audu Yellow was being taken to the Amotekun vehicle with a view to conveying him to Ilaji Ile for discussions, a group of friends of Alhaji Audu Yellow, brought out dangerous weapons, including guns and cutlasses and attacked the Amotekun operatives. Those who wielded dangerous weapons and attacked Amotekun operatives included Alhaji Chumo and Mogaji Umoru,” Aborisade stated in the open petition.
He added that in the process, two of the Amotekun operatives were injured and rushed to a hospital in Iwere-ile, the headquarters of Iwajowa LGA.
Naming the injured officers to be Mr Adeniyi Isaac and Mr Oyeniyi Moses, Aborisade further stated: “Indeed, the Serikin Fulani who was cooperating with the Amotekun officers was also attacked. The Serikin Fulani mobilized other Fulanis to protect Amotekun operatives. It was through the efforts of the Serikin Fulani and other Fulanis that the wounded Amotekun officers were rescued and taken to the nearby Immigration office at Gbedu for protection before they were rushed to the hospital in Iwere-ile.
“It is the further brief of our clients that MR. IDOWU AFO (AMOTEKUN COORDINATOR) and MR. IBIKUNLE AYOOLA (AMOTEKUN OPERATIONS COMMANDER) are being detained on allegation of having killed some herders, an allegation, which our clients deny, as no incident of killing took place during the conflict at Gbedu on the 3rd day of March 2021, apart from the injuries sustained by some Amotekun officers who were rushed to the Hospital in Iwere-ile.”
Aborisade, while asserting that Mr Afo and Mr Ayoola “are law-abiding citizens who would never take the laws into their hands,” asked the Commissioner of Police to carry out a “thorough investigation to establish the facts, the place, the time, identity of victims and perpetrators of criminal acts, regardless of the ethnic or occupational backgrounds of those involved.”
The legal practitioner and human rights activist is also requesting of the police boss to “identify those who might have caused any killings, particularly on the 3rd of March 2021 at Gbedu, Itasa, or on any other day; identify those who attacked and/or injured some persons, particularly on the 3rd of March 2021 at Gbedu or on any other day; identify the victims of attacks, particularly on the 3rd of March 2021; identify whether or not criminal destruction of farms took place and who perpetrated such destructions; identify those who bore arms on the 3rd of March 2021 and/or are bearing arms illegally and instilling fear into people; and prosecute all those who have committed any established crime, regardless of their ethnic and/or occupational backgrounds, particularly on the 3rd of March 2021 or on any other day.”
Aborisade, in addition to calling on the police to desist from further persecution of Mr Afo and Mr Ayoola, “without any reasonable linkage with any crime other than carrying out their mandate as Amotekun operatives;” also asked for the immediate release of the two Amotekun operatives “or charge them to court, if there is any verifiable reasonable evidence linking them with the commission of any crime.”
Aborisade added: “It is the resolve of Our Clients that while they would not tolerate the commission of any crime against anybody, regardless of their ethnic background, they would equally not fold their arms while any person residing or working in Itasa, whether Yoruba, Fulani, farmer or herder, is being persecuted on account of what may be a product of a compromised security architecture at some level of the system.”
He appealed to the Commissioner of Police “not to give the impression of encouraging brazen criminality from anybody or group of persons under whatever guise or on account of political, social, economic and/or financial compromises.”
The open letter was copied to the Inspector General of Police, the governor of Oyo State, the Oyo State Commandant of Amotekun Security Corps, the Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the Oyo State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the Secretary, Iwajowa LGA, the Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly and all traditional rulers and members of Iwajowa Traditional Council.