You killed our people and labelled them bandits, Ogun villagers tackle police
The shooting of two people whom the police characterized as bandits after they reportedly assaulted several herders in Saala Orile in Ogun State’s Yewa-North Local Government Area has sparked more controversy.
The state police, through their spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, characterized the two people who were alleged to be local indigenes as bandits.
Oyeyemi stated that the bandits assaulted the police when they were on a rescue mission to help herders who had been attacked by people in Saala Orile Forest.
According to Oyeyemi, the police, led by Divisional Police Officer, Ayetoro, CSP Bernard Ediogboyan, rushed to the site, followed by agents from the Joint Security Intervention Squad.
The police, on the other hand, lost one of their personnel, an inspector named Omolayo Olajide. However, news reports on Friday revealed that there was some dispute over the identification of the murdered people.
According to some residents who talked with reporters on Friday, the victims were farmers in the area.
Residents in the region, notably human rights campaigner Kunle Garb, expressed alarm over the killings and the labeling of the deceased village indigenes as bandits.
They faulted the statement of the police which described the victims as bandits.
The villagers under the auspices of Yewa North Patriotic Forum insisted that those the police shot dead were hunters who were indigenes of the village.
Contrary to the police claim, the group through its spokesperson, Ganiyu Fatolu, claimed that some herdsmen grazed their cattle on farmer’s farmland.
He added that the grazing infuriated the farmers who called for help from the hunters. According to him, on sighting the hunters, the herdsmen immediately attacked them and the farmers.
He maintained that the herdsmen called the police for rescue after the hunters overpowered them.
The forum demanded that the police should retract the terrorist appellation on the slain farmers, describing the police statement as a fabrication.
The statement partly reads, “It is a deliberate fabrication by the police to tag innocent villagers living within Ayetoro, Saala Orile, Erinpa and neighbourhood as bandits. This obviously was done in a rush to cover up the unprofessional way its men handled the conflict at Saala Orile.’’
Corroborating the forum, Garb said the farmers were on their farms when the reinforcement of police and soldiers arrived at the scene.
Garb said, “The farmers were explaining to them that they were going to their farms. But in the anger that one of them (an inspector) had died, all explanations of the poor souls fell on their deaf ears.
“They were shot at close range by one of the policemen and killed instantly. One of them is Akanji from Ijaka-Oke who was going to his farm at Adekan. The police lied! They are not bandits. Our people are not bandits. We call on the Inspector General of Police to investigate this gruesome murder by his men and ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.’’
Contacted for his reaction on the matter, the police spokesperson insisted that the police killed bandits. Oyeyemi who was furious over the allegation said the police could not have killed their inspector.
He said “These people don’t know what they are saying. An Inspector of Police was killed by the bandits and two of them were gunned down in the process. They are bandits. They were killed in a gun battle.