No fewer than 50 Fulani herders — both men and women — attacked Orile-Igbooro community in Yewa Local Government Area of Ogun State on the evening of February 12, killed four persons and injuring 10 more.
Of the four deaths, the most striking was that of an octogenarian, Mary Adekunle, who was repeatedly shot at by herdsmen but was unmoved. It wasn’t until a herdswoman snatched the gun, tapped her butt with it and shot at the woman that the bullets penetrated the woman and felled her.
FIJ confirmed that the Ogun State government donated a sum of N250,000 to Federal Medical Centre in Abeokuta, the state’s capital, for the surgical operation of Adekunle Opeoluwa, a 10-year-old boy who was brutally injured in the attack.
According to a Twitter user, @bimbo_cash who escalated the situation, Opeoluwa sustained a brain injury after he was shot in the head. However, what was not known was the extent of the attack in Orile-Igbooro.
Segun Orisajo, Public Relations Officer of FMC in Abeokuta, said he was not aware of any other person reported to be receiving care at the hospital but insisted that “the boy’s healthcare is being taken care of by the state government”.
FIJ independently gathered that most of the injured persons are self-financing their treatment.
LITTLE SIGN OF LIFE
As of March 2, two weeks after the attack, many huts were still closed. No child was in sight to wave at their fathers and mothers retiring to the shelter after a long day on the farm. All deserted.
Even the only mobile police officer recently deployed to the community was not nearby. He had little or nothing to do on the dusty road at the border because the courageous residents who stayed back in the community were seated in their homes, counting losses.
The herders had set fire on the barns where they stored farm produce. At least two motorcycles and one hut were also razed. Roofs, wooden doors and windows were not spared — all shattered by rains of bullets — while these herders terrorised the community for roughly an hour.
From afar, something stood out: the wall and door on which the blood of Olamide Amodu, a seven-year-old boy who was hacked to death, was splashed.
“Many of the local residents have fled their homes and the few of us staying back still cannot sleep comfortably when it is dusk,” says Amodu Amoke, grandmother of the late Olamide.
COUNTING THE DEAD AND THE INJURED
According to eyewitnesses, the Fulani herders came in from the bush beside Adekunle Idowu’s hut. The people first heard gunshots but didn’t take it seriously.
It could have been anything like a hunter announcing his return from the bush or testing his dane gun. Alas, it wasn’t. Local dogs started barking and before they could self-defend, their attackers had rounded them up.
Two people were killed from the first hut. Adekunle Idowu’s wife Kehinde and his son Monday. Idowu also got hit by bullets but didn’t die. Opeoluwa, his other son who survived, was the one who caught the media’s attention because of the bullet wound to his head.
Two of Opeoluwa’s brothers, Elijah and Daniel, also sustained injuries on their heads.
In one night, Idowu lost Mary, his aged mother, his wife Kehinde and his child Monday to the attack. But he frequents FMC to ensure Opeoluwa does not die like others.
He himself is carrying four bullets in his body but that is the least of his worries.
“All I want is help over the health of Opeoluwa and his other two brothers. They have tried a bit on the boy but I wish they can do more,” he said.
“As I speak to you, four bullets are lodged in my body but there’s God for me. Those bullets cannot do anything to people like us. I just need help to take care of these remaining children.”
HERDSWOMAN KILLS 80-YEAR-OLD GRANDMA
Idowu’s aged mother, an octogenarian, also died in a local hospital three days after the attack and was buried at Elepemeta, her maternal hometown.
It was the shot fired by a Fulani herdswoman that got her down, according to family members who listened to Mary’s experience at her bedside.
“She was shot multiple times by the herdsmen but the bullet didn’t enter until one of the women collected the gun,” said one of the men.
“The Fulani herdswoman tapped her butt with the gun then shot at the woman; that was when she fell down.”
The herders then headed for Amodu Kayode’s hut, where his children, wife and mother were seated outside. Kayode managed to escape but one of his sons didn’t.
Kayode’s survival was not ordinary but he was too bitter about his son’s death than to boast about his own escape.
“Self-fortification is not new in an area like this,” one of the residents who would not like to be named. finally said when this reporter repeatedly questioned Kayode’s unbelievable escape.
Kayode had about 21 incisions on his left chest — a sign of fortification.
While narrating how Olamide was killed, Amoke, Kayode’s aged mother, explained that the seven-year-old boy didn’t die of a gunshot but was hacked to death in one of the rooms he hid.
“It was the gunshot that flung the bowl he was holding at the time away,” she said. “He ran inside through the window to hide inside the room where he was matcheted. When he didn’t die on time, he was slaughtered by the neck.”
THE REST INJURED WITHOUT HELP
Jimoh Kuse, ostensibly in his late 20s, is another victim of the attack. He was shot four times in the head and back.
That night, he was first rushed to ‘Ile Kumi’ in the Benin Republic, the French-speaking country sharing a land border with Nigeria. Three bullets were removed from his body but his body still harbours one more.
Jimoh, who was still an infant when his father died, could barely talk. However , he managed to say: “I need help from the government.”
He is currently receiving care at a home-turned-healthcare facility in Oja Odan, a community near Orile-Igbooro.
Apart from Jimoh, Edun Ajana, an audibly-impaired man in his 30s was also said to have been shot. He was taken to his parents’ town in Oke-Odo. Opeisa Alao is another victim still alive.
Ponmile Amodu, the younger brother of Kayode, also survived the attack with a mild wound from the gunshot.
NO JUSTICE YET BUT OPC IS TAKING CHARGE
Since the attack on Orile-Igbooro community, no suspect has been apprehended, FIJ can confirm.
While many residents of the agrarian community have sought refuge elsewhere, others are bound in fear within Orile-Igbooro.
“That’s what they (Fulani herders) want. They want the people to leave so that they can return and graze their cows,” says Ogunola Michael, a youth from Oja Odan.
“We are still searching for these Fulani around the forest but they are nowhere to be found.”
The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), an indigenous security outfit, is leading the youth in search of the attackers and in protecting the Yewa people.
In January, the Ogun State government inaugurated the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) codenamed Operation Amotekun to complement the efforts of the Nigeria Police but the community residents said they are yet to see any of the operatives of the local security outfit in the border axis.
When contacted about the attack, Oyedele Nasirudeen, the Divisional Police Officer at Oja Odan, told FIJ he was “in the middle of a meeting”.
“We have started parading the communities to tell people not to sleep but keep watch. Amotekun is not yet in Yewa and we need them,” Ajayi Suleiman, Chairman of Oodua People’s Congress in Oja Odan, a neighboring community, said.
“If the government rises to the occasion, the people will support them. But in our own case, we are the ones watching over ourselves. We have started parading the communities to tell people not to sleep but to keep watch.”
Meanwhile, Kayode Oladele, Chairman of the newly-inaugurated Peace-keeping Committee on Farmers-Herders Conflict in Ogun State, expressed his commitment to support the affected people.
“I have been going around Yewa to know about the attack,” he said.
“People may like to play politics with the insecurity in Yewa but I cannot play politics with the lives of my people. My committee may not know all those that were affected now but we are still looking for them.”
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