By Kemi Olaitan
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, yesterday raised the alarm over the activities of armed terrorists, which he alleged are now occupying Kishi, North-west area of Oyo State as well as the vast old Oyo National Park in the state.
The National Coordinator of Odua People’s Congress (OPC) in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Aderemi, and made available to THISDAY in Ibadan yesterday said the recent development pose a great danger to the security of the entire South-west region.
He disclosed that in the past few days, the armed groups have engaged in kidnapping of locals apart from threatening their means of livelihood and access to forest resources, stating that children, the aged and women are the most targeted by the violent activities of the armed groups.
According to him, “I have received numerous reports from Kishi, North-west of Oyo State. The reports range from ceaseless kidnapping, rape and threat to lives of the Yoruba people in the Oke Ogun area, with Kishi as the present hub of terrorist attacks. It’s my responsibility to alert the public and also the relevant authorities.”
Adams, while expressing worry that the region is gradually becoming a haven for bandits and terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, warned that the situation must be nipped in the bud to prevent the Southwest taking the ignoble part of the Northeast and the North-west areas of Nigeria where violence has taken a firm root.
He added that what appears like the gathering of armed groups in the area would affect the stability of the entire South-west region.
The Yoruba leader said Oyo State has the largest land mass in Yorubaland with an area of 28,454 square kilometers and listed as the14th by size among the 36 states of the federation, warning that the occupation of the state by terrorists will strengthen their infiltration of the entire South-west region.
He said the area retains a traditional route that links Sokoto State as well as borders Ogun State, south of Kwara State and the Republic of Benin, and in the east by Osun State, stating the area harbours the Oyo park which is 2,512 km of land covering northern Oyo at latitude 8° 15’ and 9° 00’N and longitude 3° 35’ and 4° 42’ E which stretches to Kwara State.
Adam said the occupation of the land by armed groups is an assault on Yoruba heritage and civilization, saying part of the forest host the sacred Tabernacle of ancient Yoruba Alaafin whose graves were located in parts of the forest.
He said recent intelligence report at his disposal indicated that the terrorists are now visible at the Old Oyo Game Reserve at Sooro village in Kishi town, Irepo Local Government Area of Oyo State.
“I have confirmed intelligence reports that the historic Kishi town has been ravaged by terrorists, who are killing and kidnapping many people, and this is very frightening and worrisome“The Aare in Council had earlier raised the alarm on the infiltration of terrorists and killer Fulani herdsmen in the region. The council said over 500 power bikes and assorted armours belonging to the terrorists have been physically sighted along the abandoned Lusada route moving towards Sokoto, from Igbo Ora in Oyo State,” Adam added.