At least 46 Fulani armed Fulani men have been arrested by the police in conjunction with Amotekun operatives in Oyo state.
The police said the armed hoodlums arrested with guns and other dangerous weapons were allegedly on a reprisal mission in the area.
They were said to be arrested in a convoy of buses.
But the Police through the Command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Olugbenga Fadeyi, a Chief Superintendent said the arrested hoodlums claimed that they were trailing some kidnappers who were about to collect ransom from relations of a kidnapped victim.
He added that investigation has been intensified on the arrest, adding that the suspects have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, Ibadan.
Fadeyi said “Yes, the arrested Fulani men have been transferred to SCID Iyaganku, Ibadan for discreet investigation.
“Though, it was alleged that the Fulani men claimed they were trailing some kidnappers who were about to collect ransom from relations of a kidnapped victim.
“Investigation intensified on the arrest, please.”
Sources privy to the situation said the men were arrested in the early hours of Sunday at Ofiki River along Tapa/Igangan road in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of the state.
According to unconfirmed sources, the armed Fulani were allegedly invited by their kinsmen to strike in the area following the raid carried out by the men of the Oyo State Security Network Agency known as Operation Amotekun in the axis on Saturday.
But Amotekun had said it raided the hideouts of kidnappers in the area on Saturday in an operation that lead to the death of three persons while one of officer of the Vigilante Group who also participated in the operation was injured.
The security outfit said the raid was carried out in collaboration with members of the Miyetti Allah, Vigilante Group, hunters, and others.
But, the Coordinator of Odua People’s Congress in Oyo State, Rotimi Olumo, confirmed the incident.
Also the OPC coordinator in Ibarapa Zone, Olanrewaju Ogedengbe, confirmed the story explaining that the armed men were loaded in three buses.
He said, “Fourty seven of them were arrested at Ofiki River. They were caught with dane guns and after their buses were searched; sophisticated guns, bows, and arrows, charms, catapults, and bullets were also found.
“Those arrested said they were brought from Ilorin, Iseyin and other places.”
Reacting, the Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Oyo State, Alhaji Ibrahim Jiji, on Monday said though it is true that his team planned to raid some forests with the men of Amotekun Corps, they carried out the raid without vigilantes in his association.
He appealed to the Oyo State government to release 46 Fulani in police custody, saying they are members of Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) securing people in Ibarapa land.
Jiji, who stated this at a press conference in Ibadan on Monday, said the arrested vigilantes were among the people invited to rescue some kidnap victims in the area.
SaharaReporters had reported the controversy surrounding the alleged killing of a 70-year-old man and his two sons in the Ibarapa area of the state on Saturday.
Explaining how they were arrested, Jiji said; “They invited us to a meeting in Ibadan where they told us that they needed our support to fight insecurity in Ibarapa area. We told them we were going to give them 50 among our vigilantes who are Fulani.
“They have been doing the vigilante job for a very long time, therefore they know how to arrest criminals. When the Amotekun operatives were about to leave for the operation, we were still in Eruwa with some of our men who were vigilantes when we heard they had attacked the village.
That was when those of us who are leaders went to the village. When we got there, we saw that three people had already been killed. When I saw the incident, I approached the commandant of Amotekun to know his view on the incident.
“I asked why they didn’t wait for us but he didn’t answer me. We called our men who were waiting for us in Eruwa to leave the venue of our meeting and return to their homes because Amotekun had done something else. Our plan was not to kill anybody.
In the evening of the same day (Saturday), one of the vigilantes called to tell that two people were kidnapped in Igangan area of the state; we called the vigilantes and told them that they should go and search for the criminals that kidnapped those children but that they must inform police before going. While going there, they were arrested in Igangan.
“They called to tell us that some soldiers had arrested them. They told us that the commander of the troop had left for palace of Seriki Igangan. Returning from the palace, the commandant just arrested them and took them to police station. Those who were going to fight criminals are the set of the people they are parading as criminals. Those people are not criminals; they are the people securing us. They are registered vigilantes and they are working with the police and other security agencies.
“The 46 vigilantes that were arrested have been useful for the state for many years. All the 46 vigilantes are not criminals; they are the people arresting criminals. Even those criminals arrested by our men are with police as we speak.
Thief is thief and not Fulani. Tribe is different from criminals. We are ready to work with Oyo State government to stop criminality in the state.
“I am appealing to state government to leave these people (alone). They are not thieves. They are the people who are securing us because we may need them another time. Why we want them to include our members in Amotekun is because of language barrier. We appeal to Oyo State government to include people from other tribes in Amotekun for the job to be efficient.
“I am not happy about the killing of the old man by Amotekun killed. He was over 70 years old when they killed him with his two children. I am not happy about what happened at all. He was an Alfa and had been there for over 45 years before he was killed.”