For three days in the last two weeks – Friday, November 21, Sunday, November 23 and Tuesday, November 25, the peace the Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State, had enjoyed in the past three and half years was shattered when hoodlums suspected to be political thugs unleashed violence on the city, shooting, killing and burning houses and shops.
In the Friday violence in Oke-Ado area of Ibadan, a Police Inspector was shot dead while an acting Divisional Officer, a Divisional Traffic Officer and several persons sustained injuries.
The violence occurred on the day the Oyo State Governor, Mr. Abiola Ajimobi, was undertaking the Meet-My-People tour and rally of Ibadan South-west Local Government Area. The violence allegedly began in the Ibadan West Local Government Area and later extended to Idi Arere, Born Foto, Iyana Lodge and Popoyemoja in the Southern part of the city, where political thugs engaged each other in bloody clashes.
Violence erupted again in the early hours of Sunday, three days later, in Popoyemoja, Born Photo, Isale Osi and Idi Arere areas of the city. Hoodlums allegedly arrived in the areas shooting sporadically into the air, forcing their ways into people’s houses and dispossessing them of their valuables. Many persons were injured while cars and houses were burnt down by the hoodlums.
The araea boys allegedly had a free reign for about two hours before policemen arrived the scene. Media reports say area boys from the affected communities pointed accusing fingers at each other in what could be regarded as reprisal attacks from Friday violence.
Over 18 suspects have so far been arrested by the Police even as investigation is still said to be ongoing.
On Tuesday last week, another violence occurred at night at Opoyosa and Ayeye areas of the sleepy city. Reports say hoodlums vandalized and looted shops overnight and littered the roads with broken bottles to prevent vehicles from passing.
Governor Ajimobi and the leadership of the All Peoples Congress, APC, fingered the opposition in the violence. In a statement, Governor Ajimobi’s Special Adviser on Media, Festus Adedayo, said, “Our people are not fooled. We have received information that this sporadic violence was not an accident. Aware that peace is our government’s flagship in a state which under previous governments was like Syria and Afghanistan, opposition warlords have apparently regrouped to return our state to its disgraceful past, all in the name of scoring cheap in-road into the hearts of the people during the 2015 elections. In the last three and half years, we have demonstrated to our people that ours is a government that cannot stand thugs and hooligans.”
The Publicity Secretary of the APC in Oyo State, Wale Shadare, said the opposition masterminded the Friday crisis to embarrass Governor Ajimobi and to shatter the peace the State had enjoyed in the past three and half years. He quizzed: “Why did it happen on the last day of the tour? Why did they choose the governor’s local government area to inflict the mayhem? The opposition parties embarked on the violence to embarrass the governor and take the shine off the successful tour.”
In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer of the state’s Police Command, Superintendent of Police, Bisi Okuwobi-Ilobanafor, said the Force was deeply miffed by the gruesome and unwarranted killing of one of his men. She said the State Commissioner of Police, CP Kola Sodipo, “warns politicians and supporters in unequivocal terms that the battle line has been drawn between the command and anyone out to perpetrate criminality.”
Viewed from whatever angle and prism, the three unfortunate incidents were acts of criminality and the police must treat them and the perpetrators as such. The attack on the policemen drafted to the scene of the violence to restore law and order and the eventual killing of one of them is highly condemnable.
It is also reprehensible that the hoodlums would attack innocent citizens in their homes and shops and vandalize their property in a reprisal attack.
The Police must get to the root of the matter by ensuring that the real suspects and their masterminds are fished out, prosecuted and brought to justice.
With the benefit of hindsight, Ibadan had in the recent past been notorious for violent acts that the security agents had failed to investigate thoroughly, for political reasons. The fallout is the recent violence that consumed one of their own, an innocent police officer. This experience is a lesson for the Police to do its job without let or hindrance in the interest of the nation and its citizens.
The Police must also stop forthwith, the indiscriminate arrest of innocent citizens in the affected areas as innocent citizens of the affected areas have suffered enough torture and intimidation from the hoodlums. Arrest of suspects should be guided by tips and information so that innocent citizens will not suffer unjustly.
The failure of the security agencies to respond adequately to the Friday violence led to the Sunday reprisal and the hijack of the violence by hoodlums on Tuesday. There is, therefore, the need for the security agencies to move swiftly to address these criminal acts to avert further occurrences.
With less than four months to the 2015 general election, the handling of these cases will be a test case for what to expect in the Oyo State political space between now and the election period. There is, therefore, the need for the Police to handle these cases professionally in order to restore peace to the State during the elections and thereafter.