The news, on Sunday morning of the arrest of Iskilu Wakali, who, until his arrest was by far regarded by many as the most dreaded Fulani herdsmen in the whole of the Ibarapa area of Oyo State, came as a great relief for many people in the South-West geopolitical zone.
This was manifested through the many comments hailing the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) that effected his arrest. To many, Wakili had overtime assumed a larger than life image and literally became a legend in the Ibarapa area for his alleged atrocities, which included kidnappings, killings, rape and forceful takeover of hectares of farm land.
Reports abound of his alleged atrocities, including creating a no entry zone for locals and owners of farmlands he had taken over in concert with his gang of suspected criminals. He, reports say, had become a Lord of the Manor, who was greatly feared and dreaded.
DAILY POST gathered that security agents, including the police and Oyo State Security Network officers, known as Amotekun, despite having reports of his alleged criminal activities, were unable to storm his camp and effect his arrest, owing largely to his assumed dreaded image and reports that he was greatly endowed with metaphysical powers and his hoards of equally dreaded lieutenants.
A case in point was when the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde ordered men of the Amotekun corps, 200 in total, to Igangan and Ayete communities, where Wakili held forth but were unable to advance close to his location after weeks of camping in Ayete and further reports of his activities during the period. For them, it was too risky to venture close to where Wakili was.
However, the OPC, led by its Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Coordinator, Adedeji Oluwole, announced his arrest via a video that has gone viral online.
Acknowledging the feat of the OPC men, comments and commendations started pouring in for their efforts, which was considered a no mean one, especially since the nation’s security agencies failed to live up to expectations by arresting the suspected criminal to answer for his alleged crime.
DAILY POST reports that the arrest of Wakili came just about seven days after the same OPC men arrested his second-in-command, Isiaka Muhammadu, alongside four others.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland and leader of the OPC, Gani Adams, confirmed the attack in a statement on Sunday night, while also commending his men.
According to Adam’s, the Fulani warlord was arrested around 7 am on Sunday and had been handed over to the Divisional Police Office in Igbo Ora, Oyo State.
Describing Wakili as the ‘most dreaded, notorious kidnap kingpin’ who had operated in Oyo State, Adams said: “I am happy that the notorious kidnapper has been captured alongside three others. It is a good development and a positive signal to other criminal elements that the South-West is no longer an abode for bandits, kidnappers, and criminal herders.
“I commend all the members of the joint security team that has made this possible because with the video at my disposal, it was purely a neat job.
“With this development, I think the whole world will agree with me that the fight against insurgency, kidnapping, and banditry needs native intelligence, information gathering, and grassroots support from local securities and operatives.
“As I have said earlier that the effort to rid the South-West of bandits and kidnappers was to complement the efforts of the police and in doing that, it is also very important for the police to support the local security operatives because they are always at the grassroots and they have their ears to the ground on local security matters.”
Also, the pan-Yoruba social-cultural organisation, Afenifere, in its reaction, commended the OPC for the feat.
The National Publicity Secretary of the group, Yinka Odumakin in a statement on Sunday, said: “Afenifere gives tremendous commendation to OPC under Iba Gani Adams for the arrest of Iskilu Wakili, a Fulani bandit who has been spreading terror on our people in Ibarapa area and the Nigeria Police and other security agencies unable to do anything about him.
“The early morning peaceful arrest confirms our position on how effective local initiative can be in homeland security. We were not shocked that but for the intervention by the leadership in Oyo State, the Police would have gone after the OPC boys instead of taking the criminal from them and do the needful.
“Nigeria is going nowhere with a security network that shuns federalism.”
Despite the outpouring of commendations for the OPC, a twist was, however, added to the development with the arrest of three of the men who effected the arrest.
Leader of the OPC team, Oluwole said he was shocked that the police detained three of his men after they handed over Wakili.
“We took Wakili and three others from Igangan to Igboora and handed them over to the DPO at Igboora. The name of the DPO is Ajayi Mark. As I am talking to you, they have taken them to Iyaganku at the State CID in Ibadan with three of my boys.
“When we took Wakili to the police this morning, the police said we should take Wakili to the hospital first which we refused because we are not in a position to do that. We told the police that they have been complaining all these days that they wanted to arrest Wakili and now we have brought Wakili to their doorstep, they should take over.
“Nobody touched Wakili, nobody hurt him, there are no traces of any hurt on him. He is an old man and we had promised the whole world that we won’t hurt them but we would arrest them for the whole world to see who is Wakili because all these while, he has been a faceless person, nobody knows him. We didn’t beat him or harm him. When we nabbed him, we put him inside a vehicle and handed him over to the police.
“The DPO then said he got a signal from the CP (Commissioner of Police) in Iyaganku. They have taken three of my men to Iyaganku now.”
Confirming the arrest of the OPC men, the Oyo State Police Command issued a statement disclosing that Wakili, which it described as frail, old and blind, had been moved to a hospital.
“The State Commissioner of Police has quickly moved into action and preliminary findings revealed that some OPC members went to Kajola community in Ibarapa North Local government Area of Oyo State. While there, the house of the Wakili in question was set ablaze, while a female (the identity of whom is yet to be ascertained) was burnt in the fire and Wakili (about 75 years old and blind) with two (2) other persons were picked up. The three (3) of them are presently in the custody of the Police. The Commissioner of Police has directed that Wakili (due to his frail appearance and state of health), be moved to the Hospital, while others are being interrogated. Others being interrogated are the OPC members involved in arson and murder.”
The command, further in the statement solicited for whoever has a case against Wakili to come forward.
“Therefore, it is worthy of note that the good people of Oyo State and the general public should be rest assured that the officers and men in the Command would not derelict in its duty to bring to book criminal elements arrested for any infringement on the laws of the land, as adequate security measures have been emplaced against anything untoward while soliciting credible information from members of the public to enable the Police and other security agencies clampdown on crime and criminality in the State. In conclusion, anybody that has any case against Iskilu Wakili should report it to the State Criminal Investigation Department, (CID) Iyaganku Ibadan for discreet Investigation”, the statement signed by the command’s spokesman, Gbenga Fedeyi added.
The arrest of the OPC operatives has, however, pitched some Nigerians against the police and the government, with the fear that Wakili’s case may soon be swept under the carpet.
Commenting of the development, one @shola_ebenezer said: “His case will soon be transferred to Abuja, and nothing will happen due to lack of diligent prosecution from the police. The FG may even have to pay him for detaining him without reasonable cause. No be today e start.”
[email protected] said: “The IGP will call for his case file, he would be transferred to Abuja and that’ll be the end. He’d be released. This is how Nigeria is.”
Another Twitter user, @solex5k said: “I am pretty sure that Mr PRESIDENCY will set him free, watch out”, while @herculean_me said, “Watch and see FG and its agencies do everything possible to put a twist to this and to secure the release of the murderous kidnappers. Just watch.”
Anyaegby Sylvester, while commenting on Facebook, said: “Some ambitious Westerners will still work for his release and shamelessly tell you that they are promoting national unity. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and see the unfolding stories.”
Chukwuemeka Okechukwu noted that “Abuja will give order soon for his release & compensation.”
Alarmed by the twist added to Wakili’s arrest, residents of Igangan town in the Ibarapa area, also on Sunday evening called on the police to immediately release the OPC men.
The residents made the call in a statement by the President, Igangan Development Advocates, Oladokun Oladiran, describing the arrest of the OPC operatives as an assault on the sensibilities of all men and women of good will, not only across Yoruba land but anywhere in the world.
Oladokun said: “Criminals are supposed to be the ones that are under arrest and detainment but the situation is reversed in the case of Iskilu Wakili. We’ve seen the trend where those who are supposed to be celebrated are arrested. We should celebrate OPC men and not victimise them.
“We will continue to shout for the whole world to hear it. It is morally wrong to celebrate criminals and victimize heroes. Wakili is a criminal who terrorised us for so many years. The OPC operatives are heroes. Those who arrested them should desist and release them immediately and commend them.”
On it’s part, a civil society organisation, the International Alliance for Justice and Peace (IAJP), in its reaction, condemned the arrest of the OPC operatives, describing it as an assault on the Yoruba people which goes on to show that security forces are encouraging the attacks on Yoruba land by criminal elements masquerading as Fulani herders.
In a statement on Sunday evening signed by its convener, Dr Seun Kolade, the group said: “The OPC completed this operation without any bloodshed to the alleged gang leader and members, even in the face of utmost provocation in which gang members shot several times at the OPC members.
“In carrying out this operation with such exemplary discipline, the OPC has not only inspired hope among the long suffering residents of the beleaguered community, it has also laid down a high standard for cooperation between citizens and police and security forces in the collective effort to tackle the menace of gang violence and terrorism across Yoruba land.
“Tragically, however, we are horrified to hear reports that men of the Nigerian police have arrested members of the heroic OPC team that commendably and impeccably effected the apprehension of the deadly Wakili and his men!
“This alleged act is an outrageous assault on the sensibilities of all men and women of good will, not only across Yoruba land but anywhere in the world! It is an established and acceptable principle of law that citizens have the right to, and are in fact encouraged to apprehend individual or individuals who have committed or are in the process of committing indictable or felonious acts, the likes of those Wakilu and his men have been accused.
“We call on the police high command to investigate this reported incident, as it undermines the working synergy that should exist between the police and neighbourhoods’ security stakeholders.
“It also validates the perception that the Buhari-led Nigerian security forces are outdoing themselves to confirm long held suspicions that it is complicit in the campaign of terror currently ravaging Yoruba land.
“If not convincingly rebutted, it would essentially further set a dangerous message that restraint and cooperation with security agencies is not a viable option for law abiding citizens who only want to live their lives in peace.”
As noted by IAJP, may Nigerians whose views DAILY POST sought on the development, were of the view that the action of the police has the tendency of sending the wrong signal to citizens, especially those at the receiving end of the crimes being committed by terrorists, bandits and criminal herdsmen across the country.
For some respondents, this arrest of the OPC can only be likened to the aerial bombardments and further ground offensives against the Eastern Security Network (ESN), by the Nigerian military. They argued that the ESN is a child of necessity, just like the Amotekun, to secure the lives and property of the people of the South-East.
For Mr. Adewale Adeoye, the arrest of Wakili would have been a great way to start the week on a bright note. But regrettably noted that nothing in Nigeria seem to ever follow the right course.
“You needed to see how elated I was when I heard the news. I was even happier when I saw the video of Iskilu Wakili’s arrest. It brought great relief to me. I am from Oyo State, Ibarapa area for that matter. I know what our people are going through out there. In fact, most of us cannot even travel home any longer because of the fear of Wakili and his criminal gang.
“So it was a thing of joy for me and many others. However, arresting those who risked their lives to give us the much needed peace and secured environment is like adding insult upon our injury as a people. What is the police thinking? How can you say you are arresting the OPC guys for arson and murder? Were they there? How come they immediately got to know what happened in Igangan or in Wakili’s camp, a place they dared not venture into.
“The truth is that the world is beginning to understand the conspiracy involved in the so-called herders/farmers crisis. Some of us said it in time past that it is not crisis between herders and farmers, but an invasion of our region for eventual takeover and that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari cannot, in all honesty absolve itself from this conspiracy. I guess we will have a lot to talk about in the days and weeks ahead, as a lot of revelations will come out with this Wakili’s development”, Adeoye said.
In his own response, Tayo Oduola, a Lagos resident, argued that the arrest of the OPC operatives is a dangerous development, noting that the police have only succeeded in destroying whatever synergy or cooperation they badly needed as answers to the spate of insecurity in the country.
He also sees a possible return to the old ways of the OPC, where they meted instant jungle justice to arrested criminals, without allowing the law to take it’s natural course in dealing with criminals.
“The police and by extension, the government has just ruined their chances in getting the people to join hands with them to fight insecurity. If I could be arrested for arresting a famed criminal and interrogated for arson and murder, then why bother myself? Let the government do what they are elected to do and the police carry out the responsibilities they are employed and paid for.
“I, however, foresee a situation where these OPC boys are pushed to their old ways. The arrest of the three OPC men may just be what they needed to resume meting out jungle justice on suspected criminals. These people could have killed Wakili and his boys there in the forest but they elected to hand him over to the police, only to be arrested. If time is not taken, these guys may just declare war on the criminals hiding in the bush and take the laws into their hands. That, obviously is not what the government would want.”
Speaking also to DAILY POST, Mr. Chike Obiora said that the people of the South-West should wake up to the reality, arguing that if care is not taken, the ESN treatment may soon be given to OPC, Amotekun and the likes of Sunday Igboho.
“This is what self protecting groups in the South-East have been facing. Remember the military action against ESN? The only offence of the ESN was that they wanted to provide security for lives and property of their people and save them from incessant attacks by murderous criminals hiding under the guise of herdsmen. But of course, the government thought otherwise.
“Remember also that before now, an attempt was made to arrest Sunday Igboho only because he wanted his people to live in peace. That’s the reality of the present day Nigeria under President Buhari where the victims are consigned to perpetual sufferings without government coming to their rescue and any attempt at self helping becomes an offence. Like Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang, this government wants us to keep ‘suffering and smiling,” Obiora contended.
Other respondents, however. called on the police authorities to immediately released the arrested OPC, apologise to them and commend them for their effort, while also embarking on diligent investigation into the activities of Wakili, which they claimed abounds in Ibarapa area and prosecute him in a transparent manner.
They also noted that failure to ensure proper investigation, diligent and transparent prosecution, will only help those who believe the government is complicit in the current spate of insecurity advance their course and have greater evidence to back their conspiracy theories.