There is no respite for farmers and residents in Ayete, a town in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State, as they live in fear of Iskilu Wakili, a notorious Fulani warlord who kill and maim with daring effrontery and crude savagery.
The farmers thought the eviction of the Seriki Fulani, Abdulkadri Saliu, from Igangan also in Ibarapaland, was the end to Fulani herdsmen oppression but Wakili only waxed stronger as he mounted no cross-zone on farms with the eviction of Saliu in a bid to send warnings to the people of the town that he cannot be evicted. Wakili has also allegedly shot farmers who trespassed the no cross-zone.
Wakili, a Fulani herdsman whose origin the villagers don’t know, 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.
The PUNCH 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 seized hectares of farmlands at Ayete, raped the women in the rustic town, and kidnapped their rich men for ransom.
A resident of the town who craved anonymity told The PUNCH 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 has been evicted so that he won’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.”
The source also said Wakili relies on deadly weapons, native powers as well as federal might.
“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 check or arrest them,” the source added.
The Asawo of Ayete, Oba Emmanuel Okeniyi, confirmed the development to The PUNCH, He 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 terror reign of 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.”
I didn’t sell farmlands to Wakili’
The Baale Odomofin also denied claims that he sold farmlands occupied by Wakili and his herders to him.
He said, “I didn’t sell any farmland to Wakili. He took over the farmlands with 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 has to occupy our lands 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 has 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 farmlands and attacked protesters with guns and dangerous weapons.
“Wakili and his men raped our women regularly, they kidnap the well-to-do ones amongst us for a ransom. 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.”
200 Amotekun operatives in Ibarapa but yet to confront Wakili –Youth leader
Wale Oladokun, the President, Igangan Development Advocates, a youth association in Ibarapaland, said the 200 operatives of the Oyo State Security Network Agency, aka Amotekun, deployed by Governor Seyi Makinde, were in Ibarapaland but they were yet to be sent to confront Wakili and his men in Ayete.
Oladokun, who spoke with The PUNCH on Tuesday, said, “Some persons have suggested that the Baale of Odomofin should meet with Wakili and settle things amicably but Wakili’s actions are criminal and no matter who he is, you don’t open fire on people going to their farms. Even military personnel don’t do that. People are opening fire on the people of the state and the governor must deal decisively on the matter and bring Wakili to book.”
The youth leader added, “When we got to where the 200 Amotekun operatives are, they just slept on the floor and some were even listening to music. They have not been deployed to quench the fire, they were deployed and then camped for almost a week now.
“The Amotekun operatives deployed by the governor needs to get to work immediately. They must not use pampering gloves with Wakili and his men.”
Ayete is safe –Amotekun Commandant
Meanwhile, the Amotekun Commandant in the state, Col. Olayanju Olayinka (retd.), said Ayete was safe, adding that he and his men were in the town.
“It is a security matter and I can’t divulge it on the phone. Ayete is safe. I am there myself,” Olayinka said in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Tuesday.
Efforts to reach Fatai Owoseni, Special Adviser on Security Matters to Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, proved abortive as he neither picked his calls nor replied to a text message sent to his line.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Oyo State, Olugbenga Fadeyi, also did not respond to calls put to his line. A text message sent to his phone was also not replied to as of the time of filing this report.