Tope Fayehun gives insight into the gang war in Akure, Ondo State capital that left tears, sorrow and blood in the city last week.
ike what is obtained in the past, when university campuses were theatres of cult clashes, the streets of Akure, the Ondo State capital in the last few days were turned into a battle fields by different cult groups who engaged themselves in a war of supremacy.
The battle of wits was between Eiye and Aiye confraternity groups in the city. In the most recent attack, the rival cult groups whose members brandished guns, cutlasses, cudgels and other dangerous weapons, took over all the popular streets in the state capital, and killed no fewer than 10 people in the attacks and reprisal attacks.
Our correspondent reports that the cultists engaged in high noon gun battles in the state capital and apart from the murdered, several people in the process of scampering for safety sustained various degrees of injuries.
The killings created tension in the state capital, leaving streets deserted as residents feared for more reprisal attacks from the groups.
It was also learnt that the rival cults of Eiye and Aiye have been at loggerhead in the days leading to the mayhem. Obanla, Roadblock, Adebowale Junction, Odi-Olowo, Old Garage, Tipper Garage and NEPA Area of the city were the theaters of the war.
Until this incident, there had been nothing of such nature in Akure metropolis, but noticeable in the last two years is that cult-related violence has been rearing its ugly head in the city, leading to emergence of rival groups and isolated brutal killings.
Owo another city in the state had recently experienced similar rival cult attacks, but in the state capital, the menace had been restricted to the tertiary institutions. Apart from creeping into the peaceful Akure city, cult activities in the city have even grown roots in primary and secondary schools. Outside educational institutions even mechanics, furniture makers, barbers, drivers and policemen, now belong to either Eiye or Aiye in the state.These, according to the investigation, have made it difficult for the security agencies especially the police to tackle the upsurge.
Consequently, residents of Akure are now living in fear because their safety is no longer guaranteed due to the stealth and deadly modus-oprandi of the dreadly cultists.
Some of the residents who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the cultists stormed NEPA Area on Monday night, chanting strange songs and slangs and shot at a young man at a close range and used machete to lacerate his body before they left the scene.
President of Akure Youths Coalition, Mr. Tuyi Adekanbi described the recent development in the town as worrisome and unacceptable. Adekambi threatened that youths would soon shut down roads and markets in Akure to demand immediate intervention of government on the incident.
He said “I Just want to call your attention to the recurring decimal of cultist killing in Akure metropolis. Till now, nine sound, healthy youths have been gruesomely murdered. Before now we have called all individual and groups that matter that Akure community is seating on a keg of gun powder with the activities of all these rivalry cults.
“They have graduated from night attacks and killings to a broad daylight operation. There is pandemonium in all the nooks and crannies of Akure. They dispossess innocent people of their belongings and many people are running to danger every day.
“Another boy had just been shot dead at NEPA Roundabout this evening. His remains had been deposited at the morgue. Imagine! Police are out of it this time around. Help us, our youths are dying every day. Help us to call Mr Governor and our celebrated SSG to rise to their responsibility.”
Also, the Orange Youth Network, the apex Youth Organization in Ondo State said it has considered it necessary to call the attention of relevant stakeholders in state to the ongoing needless, worrisome and avoidable bloodshed in the state capital.
In a statement issued and made available to our correspondent, the director-general of the organisation, Dr. Kayode Ajulo said the development “is a challenge to all as a matter of urgent public importance, and imperative exigency.
“To live no stone unturned in putting a stop to this morally reprehensible act, where promising youths of our dear state get their lives wasted, on the basis of cult affiliation clashes.
“On our record, not less than 11 healthy youths of sound mind have been wasted on the aforementioned clashes in that last 48 hours. It is therefore non-negotiable for all, i.e: government, royal fathers, monarchs, traditional hunters, teaming youths in the state capital and all other stakeholders within the Akure metropolis, to rise up to this situation, and nip it in the bud before the future of our land becomes wasted on outright inanity.”
According to Ajulo
“On the basis of the above, Orange Youth Network has budgeted N100,000: 00 for whoever has, and is ready to give privileged security information, to unmask the perpetrators of this shameful killings.”
Meanwhile, the Police have arrested over 20 suspects in connection with crimes in the metropolis. Among those arrested were four ex-convicts, Omololu James, 19; Ojo Odunayo, 16, and Wale Ayemowa, 18, discharged from prisons in Lagos State after serving their sentences and Bidemi Victor 18, who served his jail sentence in Olokuta in Akure.
Others include Alo Tolulope, 23; Adebayo Oluwatobi, 18; Adeniji Adenipekun, 23; Gbenga Akintola, 22; Olasehinde Tope, 28; Umakpor Godspower, 32; Adewunmi Aremo, 18; Abey Seun, 24; Makanjuola Tolulope, 30; Wasiu Raimi, 32; Dele Aja-Ogun,28 and Ibukun Oluwadare, 30.
Others are Gbenga Ajayi, 22; Ayodimeji Adelakun, 42; Fidelise Emeka,23; Israel Igwe,18; Ogunmodede Michael,18; Emmanuel Sylvester, 35; Oluwatosin Gbenga, 28; Ayomide Omotayo,18 and Papoola Emiola,18.
According to the Police, four teenagers used an abandoned two-storey building near the state’s House of Assembly as their hideout.
Speaking on the killings, the state’s police spokesman, Femi Joseph, rather claimed that only three persons were killed, while one survived gunshots during the cult war. Joseph said the fight was as a result of a reprisal attack by one of the groups, whose member was earlier killed by a rival group.
According to him, over 20 suspects have been rounded up across the Akure metropolis and they include suspected cult members, robbers, and murderers amongst others. He said the suspects are being screened and would be charged to court as soon as the investigations were concluded.
Consequent upon the police arraignment before an Akure Chief Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, the suspects were remanded in police custody pending the conclusion of police investigations. The court, presided over by the Chief Magistrate, Victoria Bob-Manuel, said
“Police need to do their investigation thoroughly before the next adjournment. And police is hereby giving 14 days to conclude their investigations and accused persons should be remanded at police custody until July 25.”
Earlier, police prosecutor, Martins Olowofeso, told the court that Tolulope; Oluwatobi; Adenipekun; Akintola; Tope and Godspower conspired to stab one Adebayo Samuel with broken bottle, who sustained serious injuries; and unlawfully shot one Adetunji Idowu to death.
Olowofeso also said that Aremo; Seun; Tolulope; Raimi; Aja-Ogun and Pleasure conspired to kill one Idowu Adetoro, a.k.a Small, by macheting him to death. According to him, Ajayi, Adelakun, Emeka, Igwe, Michael, Sylvester, Gbenga, Omotayo and Emiola unlawfully killed one Oluwafemi Yinka by macheting him to death.
He said that Tolulope and his group committed the offences on June 26 at about 5:30 p.m. at Arakale Road, while Aremo and his group committed the offences on June 24 at about 9:10 p.m. at Obanla; and that Ajayi and his group committed the offence sometime in the month of June at Idi-Iroko, Akure metropolis.
According to the prosecutor, the offences were contrary to and punishable under sections 516, 320 and 316 of the Criminal Code Cap 37 Vol. 1 Laws of Ondo State of Nigeria, 2006.
Pleadings for bail by the counsel to the accused persons, Joseph Ayoju, Leo Okoye, Olubumi Olorunmoyo, Adetoye Femi, O. A. Emmanuel, and others, were not heeded by the court, as it adjourned the case to July 25 for mention. The police spokesperson in the state, Femi Joseph, informed that the bail application should not be granted because the offences, especially as it affects murder, were not bailable.
Joseph also said the police were screening another set of suspects to ascertain their involvement in the bloody attacks which claimed the lives of three persons.
While disclosing that some of the suspects had their tattoos and the initiation symbols of their respective cults which had helped in identifying the cults they belonged to, Joseph revealed that police detectives were on the trail of some of their leaders.