Osun communal clash: ‘How we escaped gunshots fired at close range’

Hammed Azeez

But for the intervention of some ‘wise men’, the communal clash between two Osun communities, Erin-Osun and Ilobu, last week would have lasted longer than it did.

The crisis, which began on the night of Saturday February 6 and continued till Sunday February 7, reportedly claimed seven lives. Houses, shops, cars and other valuable property were also burnt.

The bloody clash was said to have been precipitated by the dispute resulting from the land demarcation exercise embarked upon by the National Population Commission (NPC) as the youths in Erin Osun were said to have been dissatisfied with alleged ceding of a part of their land to Ilobu during enumeration.

Speaking, the Field Commander, Osun Amotekun Corps, Comrade Amitolu Shittu, said the disposition of the Osun State governor Alhaji Gboyeka Oyetola and the Osun State Commissioner of Police Mr. Olawale Olokode, who he described as a fine gentleman, halted the bloody clash.

Shittu said: “Mr. Governor, in his wisdom, gave us the marching order, saying that he didn’t want anybody to die.

“He said we should all join hands to save the lives of the people in the two communities.”

Shittu explained that the presence of the Amotekun Corps could not deter the enraged youths, adding that while the Amotekun Corps was trying to restore sanity in the two communities, the enraged youths were doing everything possible to discourage and demoralise them.

“On getting to the warring communities, they started firing guns at us at close range. They smashed the windscreen and macheted the body of our vehicles. But we did not allow that to provoke us; we had to suppress our anger,” he said.

“They turned us back and we retreated to a police station close to the community to re-strategise. The two communities have a police station after the bridge.

“After two to three hours, we moved in again and they repelled us, insisting that they did not want us.

“Before we could gain entry into the communities without firing any shot, they had engaged each other in killings and destruction of property.”

Contrary to the claims in some quarters that Governor Oyetola was away while the communal war was going on, Shittu said that Mr. Governor was present and was highly disturbed by the incident.

He said: “On that Sunday, the governor was on his table, asking for what was going on every minute.

“We could not tell him that we had not been able to gain entry into one of the communities. We had only succeeded in gaining entry into one while the other one resisted us and we could not fire any shot at them.”

He also said the presence of security agents brought sanity into the communities.

“The moment we gained entry without killing anybody, we took over the boundaries and prevented confrontation between them, and that helped us a lot,” he said.

He also said the curfew declared by the state government made a lot of difference, noting that it gave the Amotekun Corps the opportunity to strengthen their activities, morale and courage.

“In the night when we saw that our lives were in danger, we warned them that they should not use darkness to attack each other, because if anybody should do that we could not guarantee their safety.

Adeola Abejide

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