By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Last Monday, farmers at Aba Felix and Aba Ajere farm settlements in Iyemero-Ekiti community in Ekiti state slept peacefully after a hard day’s job.
But all of a sudden, at about 1am, there was pandemonium, people were running in different directions, there were shouts, screams and booming of gunfire, and parents couldn’t wait to pick their wailing children as they dashed for the bush, running for dear lives.
The armed men attacked when the farmers had retired to their bed and were fast asleep, in the middle of the night. By the time the dust settled, two people lay dead; a seven year old boy, with a shattered head and a man identified as Danjuma Ali.
Three other persons also suffered severe machete wounds. The two farm settlements were sacked and the residents were forced to walk the five kilometres to Iyemero-Ekiti, the nearest metropolis to their completely ransacked farm settlement.
A source in the community who raised the alarm over the sad incident said, “It has happened again today, it has been a recurrent killing. Some herders called Bororo stormed the farmstead and shot these innocent people. They came around 1am and were there till dawn. Our farmers were all afraid to go their farms. They all rushed to the palace of Oba Ebenezer Agboola Ogungbemi, the Olu of Iyemero Ekiti to take refuge.
“We are mourning today at Iyemero, we are not happy about this incident and the government must do something about it”, the source said.
The Olu of Iyemero, Oba Ogungbemi told Vanguard that herders stormed the community through the border of Iyemero at Eruku in Kwara state.
According to him, “this makes Iyemero a porous exit and entry point, which portend dangers and insecurity to the community, Ikole local government and the state in general. They invaded the community at midnight and shot a seven year old boy and scattered his head. They also shot a couple in another house and the husband has died after they were rushed to Ikole General hospital and the bullets could not be extracted from his body early enough. The doctors were able to remove the bullets from the body of the wife and she had been referred to Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido Ekiti for further treatment”.
Oba Ogungbemi said the victims confirmed to him that herders who had been having a running battle with the farmers perpetrated the dastardly act. The Monarch said about 60 of the villagers have been displaced and “they were here in my palace till Wednesday before they left”.
Vanguard gathered that those who were undergoing medical treatment at the emergency section of the Federal Teaching Hospital(FETHI), Ido Ekiti include: Mrs Jennifer Akoko, Mr Joseph Achebe and one other victim.
Appeal for Protection
Oba Ogungbemi then called for the establishment of a police station in the town to curb these “vampires”. A member of Iyemero in Council, Chief Ariyo Abejide, said there was the need for the teeming population of farmers in this farmstead to be protected and secured by the security agencies from another imminent attacks and onslaught from the marauders.
The head of security and community vigilante group, Chief Jimoh Eshikin called on the state government to empower the village hunters, in order to assist the security agents in effective Security surveillance and patrol. My people should be on alert and we are already mobilising the local hunters to work with the security agencies to tame the perpetrators”.
Governor Kayode Fayemi, represented by the Information Commissioner, Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua, said government would take every necessary step to nab the killers and bring them to justice. Fayemi added that his government was ready to pay the hospital bill of the victims in order to relieve them of the burden.
“We sympathise with you, because lives of Ekiti people are precious to us in this government. As part of the ways to arrest this situation, the governor has begun the construction of a police post in Iyemero. We are assuring you that something like this won’t happen again”.
On the revelation made by the monarch that two persons had died due to the attack contrary to the police’s report that no life was lost, Olumilua said : “The governor knew there was loss of lives and that was why we are here to commiserate with the town.
“But in spite of this provocative attack, they should remain calm and be law abiding, particularly the farmers. What we were told was that it was an armed robbery issue, according to findings and report but whatever dimension or form it must have emerged , we are prepared to tackle it”, he assured.
It’s armed robbery, not herdsmen atrack—Police
The Commissioner of Police, Ekiti State Command, Mr Asuquo Amba had however refuted the story that it was herdsmen attack, saying it was a robbery operation. Amba also denied the claim that two people were killed in the attack, describing the report it as mere hearsay. He claimed that preliminary report by his command indicated that the attack was carried out by armed robbers and that nobody died during the operation.
Return of normalcy
Sources in Iyemero told Vanguard that despite the return of normalcy in the two farmsteads, the people living there were yet to recover from the shock of the attack.
“Soldiers are patrolling Iyemero and the farm settlements but we are still afraid that those terrible people may return. We can’t go to farm, we are holed up in our homes, peeping through the windows”, the sources said.
Police post for Iyemero
Meanwhile, immediate answer to Oba Ogungbemi’s appeal came on Thursday as Governor Fayemi approved a police post in Iyemero which was described by many in Ikole Local Government Area, as practical approach to finding a lasting solution to the perennial herdsmen menace in the area. They also advised the state government to include the local vigilante in the security arrangement of the area.