In spite of efforts of the present administration in Oyo State on security, Ibadan, the state capital, still has serious security problems.
Barely a month after gunmen attacked the Popoyemoja palace of the paramount ruler of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, another group last weekend stole and destroyed property estimated at millions of naira in the same palace. Isale-osi, Gidarami, Born Photo, Akala road, Iyana Asuni/Popo, Beere, Oja-Oba were among other places in the city that were attacked.
Though such problems are common in Ibadan, especially during political campaigns, the recent one caught the residents unaware as most were asleep when the attackers struck.
No policeman was on ground in the troubled community on Wednesday and Thursday when our correspondent visited, even as many residents had fled. Many, including aged men and women who have no other place to go only remained to keep their inheritance. Others were tenants who had established businesses in the area. The common businesses in the area include tailoring, selling of foodstuff, provisions and commercial motorcycle operation (Okada).
According to witnesses, the latest fracas came when a gang leader from Popoyemoja and Born Photo was killed at a party. His gang members alleged that their leader was killed by a rival group and went to avenge his death. They went on Sunday night but it was not a serious fight. But on Monday, they returned and fight a broke out between the two groups. They started burning shops and destroying vehicles and houses. They used guns, knives, machetes, broken bottles and other dangerous objects in the fight. Several members of the two gangs were injured. They targeted houses where any member of the rival gang was suspected to be living. A resident of Gidarami who pleaded anonymity said it was not strange to him, as such should be expected in an area inhabited by thugs and miscreants who are always busy drinking and idling away.
“Those guys are miscreants, they have no jobs, they hang around all the time. If you want to prove me wrong, you can come around here by 6a.m in about a week when the crisis must have subsided. They will come back. The crisis started on Sunday when some of the boys attended a birthday party at Popo area. I heard some guys here attacked them and as usual, those guys came for reprisal and also used the opportunity to loot.
“Before they burnt down the houses and shops, they stole many items in the shops. As we are here now, we are working in fear. Many of the residents come around during the day but leave in the evening while many have left this community,” he said.
An 80-year-old woman, Mrs. Adekanbi who was rescued during the attack, said the thugs arrived the community around 2.am. She said a shop in front of her house was destroyed and the goods inside were taken away. The state government recently launched a joint security task force code-named ‘Operation Burst’ to maintain law and order but it appears that has not checked activities of criminals in the state capital.
Though the police commissioner, Biodun Odude, told newsmen that some arrests had been made, some residents of Popo said those arrested were not the thugs who invaded the community.
The police spokesman, Adekunle Ajisebutu, did not respond to several calls and a text message sent to him by our reporter. Similarly, there was no word from the state Commissioner for Information, Toye Arulogun on the subject.