Residents of Ayete, a town in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State, have alleged that a Fulani warlord, Iskilu Wakili, has continued to kill and maim their people.
The residents, especially farmers, alleged that Wakili had taken over all their farms and mounted no cross-zone on them following the eviction of the Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Abdulkadir Saliu, from the area, in a bid to send warnings to the people of the town that he cannot be evicted.
According to The Punch, Wakili was also accused of shooting farmers who trespassed the no cross-zone.
Wakili, a Fulani herdsman, is said to be more infamous than the ejected Seriki Fulani. Farmers and residents of Ibarapaland have accused him of displacing them from their farms by forcefully invading their farms with cattle.
It was gathered that Wakili, who is said to be the leader of the herdsmen in the Ayete area of Ibarapaland, work with dozens of herders who are his disciples. Together with his battalion, they allegedly seize hectares of farmlands at Ayete, rape women in the rustic town, and kidnap their rich men for ransom.
A resident of the town said on Tuesday, “Wakili has mounted red flags on some locations as no-cross zones. He has taken captive of Kajola, Gbagban Idere, Konkon, and Magbeje villages under Ayete. In fact, people can’t cross Wakili’s territory.
“Wakili mounted a no-cross zone when he discovered that Seriki Saliu had been evicted so that he wouldn’t be displaced too. In fact, he has renamed his settlements to bear his name. People now call the conquered places ‘Iga Wakili’. You can imagine the audacity.
“Those who have farms around Iga Wakili and were unable to leave before his no-cross zone entered into the bush and crossed rivers in search of other routes back home because crossing Wakili’s territory was suicidal.
“In fact, Wakili and his men shot a boy who crossed the red flag by mistake. Before the boy knew what was going on, Fulani herdsmen came out with AK-47 and shot him.”
It was also alleged that Wakili relies on deadly weapons, native powers as well as federal might.
A source who spoke with The PUNCH said, “Wakili depends on federal power, he believes he has some form of immunity and touch-not-my- sacred-children audacity. Minus that, who can do that in this country?
“In fact, Seriki’s son, Ibrahim Saliu, said Sunday Igboho can’t dare Wakili. Wakili and his son, Abu, are warlords for the herdsmen in the whole of Ibarapaland.
“Another factor is that the roads are unchecked and so other herdsmen come in on buses to reinforce Wakili. Two buses of Fulani herdsmen recently went to Wakili’s settlement to reinforce him with weapons and no security operative checked or arrested them.”
The Asawo of Ayete, Oba Emmanuel Okeniyi, said Wakili had invited his armed kinsmen to join him on the farms.
Okeniyi added that the herdsmen had started cutting down cocoa trees and burning cashew plantations.
Baale Odomofin, the traditional ruler in control of Gbangbangere, Konko, Dagbere, Kajola, Magbeje, and other hamlets in Ayete under the reign of reign allegedly imposed by Wakili, said the deadly Fulani herder shot emissaries sent to serve him a quit notice.
He said, “We served Wakili a quit notice to leave our lands but he opened fire on the men sent to deliver the quit notice. It was bloody and many persons were injured in the process.
“No farmer in Ayete can harvest any crop again but Wakili does all the harvests. He technically displaced all the farmers from their farms by sending his cows to eat all the crops. He does this forcefully with his herders who invade the farms with weapons. The farmers have nothing to show for their efforts but Wakili’s farm produces bountiful harvest and people now buy his produce.”
The Baale also denied claims that he sold farmland occupied by Wakili and his herders to him.
He said, “I didn’t sell any farmland to Wakili. He took over the farmland, using force. He is guilty of forced occupation.”
Speaking on how Wakili came into the town, the monarch said, “Some 18 years ago, we just heard that a Fulani herdsman has camped on our land. Wakili never approached us for any approval to settle in the area. He just came from nowhere and made himself a lord there.
“I sent for him and asked him what right he had to occupy our land without approvals. Wakili spoke through an interpreter and said God owns the earth and its fullness thereof. I replied that indeed God owns the earth but he put some people in charge of some places.
“Wakili said he had heard all that I said and would come back but he never came back. Instead, he occupied the farmland and attacked protesters with guns and dangerous weapons.
“Wakili and his men rape our women regularly, they kidnap the well-to-do ones amongst us for ransoms. They usually demand N5m and above from kidnap victims. The suffering is so much that the farmers can no longer go to their farms. We reported the cases several times to the police but nothing was done.
“I hope that the Amotekun operatives deployed by the governor would storm Wakili’s area and rescue us from his captivity.”
Reacting to the development, however, the Amotekun Commandant in the state, Olayanju Olayinka, said Ayete was safe, adding that he and his men had been to the town.
He was quoted as saying, “It is a security matter and I can’t divulge it on the phone. Ayete is safe. I am there myself.”