Eleven people reportedly died yesterday in Ogbere Onilanta in Ona- Ara Local Government of Oyo State as policemen and hunters clashed. As guns boomed, residents reportedly fled their homes.
It was gathered that about 40 local hunters, popularly called “Agbekoya”, exchanged gunfire with policemen and attempted to break into the police armoury. Some residents claimed 11 people died, including hunters and policemen.
But the police said only one person died. A source said the fight started when the police insisted on checking the hunters’ convoy.
The police accused them of over speeding and reckless driving. Attempts by the hunters to seize the Ogbere Police station and its armoury was foiled by armed security men.
Motorists were barred from passing through the area as the road was cordoned off. It was gathered the hunters were coming from Lagos to Akanran community for a meeting.
An eyewitness, who identified himself as Isiaka, said: “The men were coming in some vehicles, including a black Toyota Pathfinder.
“Some policemen, who were at the checkpoint in front of their station, stopped them and challenged them for driving recklessly. One of the hunters got down and started arguing with the police.
“He slapped the policeman. Later, we started hearing gunshots. There was shooting from both sides. “The crisis was so much that everybody started running to avoid being caught in the fire.”
Some workers at the Elekuro High School close to the scene reported that some policemen rushed into the compound and removed their uniforms.
About an hour later, the hunters fled the scene and abandoned their vehicle. More policemen and men of the Operation Burst were drafted in the area.
An Armoured Personnel Carrier was stationed in front of the police station. Armed policemen and soldiers were positioned at various locations within the community.
Police spokesman Adekunle Ajisebutu said the shot hunter was only injured. His words: “Some robbery suspects, identified as Agbekoya militants in three vehicles, attacked policemen on stop-and-search duty at Ogbere and attempted to snatch a rifle from a policeman.
“The bandits were repelled. The hoodlums fled, only to regroup and attack the Ogbere Police Station, advancing to the armoury, shooting their way in.
“The police again repelled their attack and in the process one hoodlum was fatally injured. “Two suspects were arrested. The injured suspect died on the way to hospital. Items recovered from the hoodlums include: five cut- to- size locally-made gun, 103 cartridges and assorted charms.
“A Sports Utility Van (SUV) was seized. “The arrested suspects have made confessions and are helping the police in their investigation.”