This rejoinder was sent to This Day Newspaper on Friday, February 12, 2021 but it has not been published till date even after repeated reminders were sent.
I read Adebiyi Adebayo’s second piece published on This Day on February 10, 2021 on the farmers/herders’ issue in Ibarapa zone of Oyo State. One would have expected that if he was writing a second piece, he would have spent some time getting informed. But Alas! So, I am pressed to set Adebayo straight… once again.
To start with, calling an opinion piece written without facts an ‘intervention in a crisis’ is to ascribe more importance to it than it warrants. Indeed, it is important that as citizens, we hold our government to account but as educated citizens, we should do so with all sense of responsibility and from a place of knowledge.
Now, let’s turn to the points raised. There seems to be an alternative facts argument put forward in all of this article.
For starters, there was nothing written that supported the assertion that Governor Seyi Makinde was in fact, ‘overwhelmed and confused, a governor who could not draw a thin line between politics and security, and a governor who will rather protect his ego than swallow his pride.’ To support his assertion, Adebayo refers to the statewide broadcast of January 20, 2021, in which Makinde stated that ‘There have been stories in the press targeted at exaggerating the security situation in the state.’ Adebayo uses this to make the unfounded claim that Makinde was downplaying the security situation in Ibarapa, thereby insulting victims of criminal activities in the zone. Had Adebayo taken a minute to read the sentence again, he would have realised that the governor was referring to the security situation in the state as a whole, not Ibarapa in particular. Maybe I need to remind Adebayo that the Ibarapa zone is just one of the five zones in Oyo State with only three of the 33 LGAs in the state.
Off the top of my head, I can give two instances where certain media houses have misinformed the public about the security situation in Oyo State by exaggerating a security incident.
The first instance was in December 17, 2021, when the Amotekun Corps were called to a robbery incident and in the ensuing gun battle, one of the alleged criminals was killed. The report in the press was that Amotekun had killed a University of Ibadan student without a just cause. It was later revealed that the person killed, Akolade Gbadebo aka Akin Sarz, a student of Federal College of Education, Oyo, was a well-known cultist who had been terrorising Oyo Town.
The second instance was a report on January 9, 2021, which falsely claimed that the Amotekun Corps had killed 7 Fulani settlers in Ibarapa. This report was in fact, totally false. The Amotekun Corps had conducted raids in 4 local government areas of the state to flush out criminal elements including bandits and kidnappers.
In the course of these operations, 3 armed criminals of Fulani descent were killed when they confronted the corps in the forest.
So, Makinde’s assertion in his broadcast that ‘there have been stories in the press targeted at exaggerating the security situation in the state’ is factually correct. And since it is, Adebayo’s entire piece falls flat because this is the premise for the rather weak argument. Even the unnamed aide he quoted was referring to security in the state in general. It is mischievous to take a statement referring to a whole and twist it to refer to just one specific part.
More recently, on January 31, 2021, the police in Oyo State took to press to debunk fake news that had been circulated the day before that five people were killed and 200 houses and 29 vehicles were razed to the ground during a clash between hoodlums and Amotekun and police officers.
According to the police, a house and about two shops were looted before they were called to the scene along with Amotekun Corps to restore order. So, when Makinde and his aides refer to stories in the press exaggerating the security situation in Oyo State, this is what they mean.
Adebayo would do well to stay informed about what is happening in the state he seems so focused on.
If he was paying attention, he would not have made the false assertion that ‘No arrest has been made in connection to specific high-profile criminal allegations, perpetrators of all the heinous acts of killing, rape, and kidnapping, are still walking free, probably in search of their next victim. No one is even at best in custody as we speak, helping the police in their ‘ongoing‘ investigation!’ In fact, on February 10, 2021, the police announced that they had arrested 48 people including 13 suspects in a high-profile kidnapping incident in Ibarapa.
Adebayo stated that Makinde’s ‘belated window dressing visit to the zone didn’t reinforce any hope.’ However, just yesterday, February 11, 2021, the Onidere of Idere land, Oba Aderoju Kingsley said ‘peace has returned to Ibarapaland.
Since Governor Seyi Makinde visited us, calm has returned and the situation has changed. Everybody is now free to go anywhere.’ This was at a press briefing after a meeting between the governor and traditional rulers of Ibarapa zone.
According to Adebayo, ‘Surprisingly, while our governor is busy going about negotiating for the return of the Fulani settlers to Igangan, Ayete a neighbouring community is having its own ugly experience.’ Adebayo’s claim is false. Firstly, apart from the Seriki Fulani whose house was burnt on the instigation of Adebayo’s ‘hero and brave warrior,’ Sunday Igboho, Fulani settlers were not evicted from Igangan.
Therefore, there is no reason why Makinde should be negotiating for their return. Secondly, regarding Ayete, Adebayo seems to be relying on an already debunked video recording which made the rounds on social media with unverified claims of the security situation in Ayete by an unknown person. Had Adebayo been paying attention to the situation in Ibarapa rather than gossip peddled on social media, he would have known what Oba Kingsley confirmed in the press briefing. Oba Kingsley also stated that a Peace and Security Committee would be inaugurated on February 15 to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all residents of Ibarapaland.
Oba Kingsley’s statement at the press briefing echoes the position of the Amotekun Commandant, Colonel Olayinka Olayunju that Ibarapaland is now safe especially with the reinforcement of the corps with an additional 200 corps members who were redeployed to the zone by Makinde. Rather than sitting pretty in Abuja, Adebayo can take up the offer of the Amotekun Commandant, to tour Ibarapaland to confirm the security situation in the zone. Those without skin in the game seem to have the most to say about security in Ibarapa but are unwilling to make the effort to verify facts about the security situation in the zone.