The 17 suspected cultists arrested by the police

The Ogun State Police Command’s onslaught against criminal elements terrorising residents in the state and its environ has continued to yield results. Femi Ogbonnikan, who interviewed two gang leaders of suspected cultists, reports on their reign of terror

Nemesis has caught up with 17 persons suspected to be cultists who have been responsible for various attacks on residents of Ijebu-Igbo, in Ijebu North Local Government Area of Ogun State.

The 17 suspects who are currently cooling their feet in the protective custody of the operatives attached to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), Ogun State Police Command, Imagbon, Abeokuta, were apprehended on Thursday, January 12, 2017, following a bloody clash between members of two rival cult groups, Eiye and Black Axe Confraternity, in the sleepy town of Ijebu-Igbo, by men and officers of Ijebu-Igbo Divisional Police Station and Ijebu-Ode Area Command, led by its Commander, Mr. Funsho Ajao, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).

According to the Ogun State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Mr. Abimbola Yemi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), the 17 suspects were arrested, following an outbreak of violent clash between the two rival groups at four different locations within the ancient town, during which dangerous weapons such as guns, cutlasses, axes and assorted charms were deployed.

The Police image maker said that it took the swift intervention of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in-charge of Ijebu Station, Mr. James Agene (SP) and the Commander, Ijebu Ode Area Command, Mr. Funsho Ajao (ACP) to curtail the situation from degenerating.

At the end of the ensuing melee, the Police spokesman stated that the 17 suspects were picked up at different locations within the ancient Ijebu-Igbo town, and that they had been transferred to the operatives of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) of the Ogun State Police Command Headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta, on the order of the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Ahmed Iliyasu, for a discrete probe into the matter.

However, two leaders of the two rival cult groups, in an encounter with our reporter, gave accounts of their individual roles during the fracas and how they were apprehended by the police.

Rasheed Owoseni, whom the police claimed to be a leader of the Eiye Confraternity, denied his membership.
According to the 23-year-old suspect, who claimed to be a bricklayer by profession and a resident of Okemoje Street, Ijebu-Igbo, said he was arrested in error by the police.

“I was arrested by the police with the complementary efforts of members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and that of the Vigilante Service of Ogun State at about 10: 00am on Wednesday, January 12, 2017, behind the Ijebu-Igbo Police Station. To say the truth, they found on me assorted charms, but they were meant for my protection. When they insisted to know what I was doing with those charms found on me and I still convinced them they were meant for my protection and they asked me to eat them, which I did before them. And nothing happened to me. I know how notorious our people are in Ijebu- Igbo and I had to fortify myself spiritually. We have hoodlums who are all over the place. And that was how the juju was found on me. I usually had the juju on me whenever I went out to avoid taking risk.

“But they were not satisfied with my explanation and I was handed over to the policemen and officers at the station.
“I attended St. James Primary School, Atikori, in Ijebu-Igbo and subsequently, I went to Orimolusi College, Oworonshoki, Lagos, but I dropped out when I was in Junior Secondary School (JSS) 2. From there, I took after my father’s profession and I learnt bricklaying. I wasn’t a brilliant student in school and so, I decided to drop out and learn a trade in bricklaying which my father is doing. It was recently I relocated back to my home town, Ijebu – Igbo, settled down where I have been working as a bricklayer.

“I swear with my life, that I am not a member of any cult group and I will never join,” said Owoseni.
In his own confessions, Adewale Adebayo, 25 years old, who the police alleged to be a leader of the Black Axe Confraternity, also denied his membership of any of the two cult groups he was arrested in connection with.
According to Adewale, who is fondly called Baba Sodiq, said his arrest is an act of vendetta.

“I had a running battle with the members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in Ijebu-Igbo sometime in year 2013. On that particular day, two members of the OPC who were on a motorcycle hit my elder brother, identified as Wasiu, while he wanted to cross the road. It was a serious encounter and I fought them. I witnessed the incident and I asked them to rescue him and take him to a nearest hospital for treatment, but they declined, left my elder brother lying down, writhing in pains and they sped off. I chased after them and a fracas ensued.

“Since then, they had been keeping malice and they just seized this opportunity to get back at me and roped me into the crime I knew nothing about. I have had a premonition that this was what was going to happen to me,” he said.
On how he was arrested, “I am a herbalist. I treat ladies who are looking up to God for the fruits of the womb. I also prepare blessing charms for those who come to me. I was standing in front of my house at Okesopen, Ijebu-Igbo, when these OPC men came for me. They rough-handled me and handed me over to the officers and men of Ijebu-Igbo Police Station. The time was 12: 00 noon on that fateful Wednesday, January 12, 2017, said the father of two children.
“I attended Muslim Primary School, Okesopen, Ijebu-Igbo and subsequently, Abusi Edumare College, Odasanyin, Ijebu-Igbo,” Adewale added.

However, ASP Abimbola Yemi said that the Ogun State Police boss has enjoined the good people of the state of the readiness and commitment of the command to live up to its constitutional responsibilities of saving the lives and property of the citizenry. Besides, the police image-maker stated that the CP is seeking the support and cooperation of the people of the state in the area of providing relevant information that would aid the police to apprehend criminal elements living among the residents of the state. Yemi further added that the suspects will be arraigned in court as soon as investigation is concluded into the matter.