By Jacob Akintunde, Akure
Following the land dispute between the people of Ikale land of Okitipupa local government area of Ondo state and its Araromi-Obu community in Odigbo local government area, traditional rulers and community leaders in Ikale land have alleged the state governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of being biased and unfair in handling the crisis.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Akure, the state capital, on behalf of the traditional rulers, retired Army General, Oluyemi Bajowa, the Jagunmolu of Ikale land accused the Akeredolu of forming his opinion about the crisis before visiting the two communities, tagging the Ikale as aggressors.
The communities also alleged the security agencies of indiscriminate arrest and detention of Ikale people during the fracas that claimed lives of Five persons.
Bajowa said “this apparently gave the wrong impression that Ikale people were the aggressors and also probably informed the reaction of the Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who formed an opinion before his visit to the palace of His Royal Majesty Oba George Faduyile, the Abodi of Ikale Land.
“I was shocked and horrified at the governor’s public display and pronouncement of power, devoid of decency and protocol, by taking the Abodi of Ikale land and other Ikale traditional rulers present, to the cleaners.
“He threatened to instruct the security services to level to the ground Ago Alaye and other Ikale villages in Araromi-Obu and its environs; he also threw caution to the wind, by boasting that he does not need Ikale votes for his re-election.
“As result of government partial actions, the Araromi-Obu settlers have been emboldened and have resorted to ordering all Ikale people to leave Araromi-Obu.
He stated that the governor who promised to set up a Committee to investigate the Araromi-Obu/Ikale crisis failed to put in place the Committee as promised till now.
But while reacting on behalf of the state government, the State Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo said Akeredolu is committed to the peaceful co-existence among communities and ethno-religous groups in the state.
Ojogo said “It’s an unfair statement if anyone says the governor is biased in his handling of the crisis. Recall that he visited both areas and appealed for calm even as he deployed armed security to the affected conflict zone.
“That singular act of swift response by the governor stemmed the crisis, especially as it avoided reprisal attacks from either community. The governor’s commitment to peaceful coexistence among communities and ethno-religous groups is sacrosanct and no effort will be spared in this regard.
“the state government still maintains its earlier position that all concerned should eschew violence while the issues in question are being looked into.
But Bajowa who maintained that the Araromi Obu who are mainly farmers are settlers on Ikale land, urged the state government and the Araromi Obu community to abide by the rule of law, while he called on the Ikale people to maintain peace.
He noted that the relationship between the two communities nose dived since the traditional ruler of Araromi Obu ascended the throne, while the settlers began to address the Ikale landowners as non-indigenes.
According to him this led to the legal action instituted by the Araromi Obu Community but said the court ceded 57 out of 59 communities to Ikale land.
He however said “whist Ikale people were observing the reaction of Araromi-Obu settlers to the court judgement, we received information that militants were moved into Araromi-Obu with a view to using them to attack Ikale people. This information was passed to the security agencies.
“We also received information that Araromi-Obu leaders have acquired a cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition and we equally passed this information to the security agencies, but the information were disregarded by the security agencies.
“As at today, 15 Ikale persons including an 89 year old man have been arrested and all of them have been remanded in Prison custody.
“Incidentally, these are people who were not involved in the fracas, but were merely waiting for the Governor to give him information that could have led to a peaceful resolution of the crises.
“Surprisingly, no police arrest had been made on the side of Araromi-Obu settlers and neither was anything heard about the armed Araromi Obu aggressors and militants arrested by the Military Task Force who were handed over to the security agencies with their weapons”
He noted the curfew imposed by the state government in Ago Alaye has affected the economy of the people of the community and turning the place to a ghost town.
He however, said “we are requesting in the interest of fairness, equity and justice, that an independent administrative enquiry should be set up by the government to look into the immediate and remote causes of the incessant crisis between Araromi-Obu settlers and the Ikale people”
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