Quoting from “What Is To Be Done”, a book written by a Russian Revolutionist, Vladimir Lenin, an Australian Political Scientist, Anthony Ballot, in an op-ed titled: “Africa: The Land for Zero Class Struggle,” opined that life in Third World societies is one where the peasants hopelessly live to serve the bourgeoisies. The multi-linguist, who was born in West Africa to Australian parents, said the poor in developing nations spend all their lives on the surface of earth working for the needs of their Aristocrats who care not about the living condition of their under-privileged.
He said: “The peasants who are the absolute majority of the population in Africa industriously serves their almighty oligarchies but what they gets in return from the controllers of economy and political power in the continent is “unlimited misery and melancholy. Though the level of poverty in the continent is unparalleled, the scenario that i witnessed during my recent visit to Nigeria, the largest economy in the continent of Africa and the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the world is the failure of the rich and state actors to guarantee the security of lives and properties of their third class citizens who live mostly in isolated ghettos devoid of civilization, is mind-blogging.”
The lengthy prose of Ballot, which I read online during my recent vacation visit to Pretoria, South African, was what came to my mind when I joined a stealthy delegation of a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Yoruba Ko’ya Leadership and Training Foundation, to Deyoruwa, a totally dejected village situated between Remoland and Egbaland in Isara Community, Remo North Local Government Area of Ogun State on April 11, 2019 on a fact-finding mission over the menace of Fulani herdsmen in Yorubaland and the panacea to the malevolent development.
Leaving Lagos to Deyoruwa: the beginning
After taking off from Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, the covert operation team of the pro-restructuring organization that is also agitating to safeguard every land in Yorubaland against external aggression, had a stop-over at Ogunmakin-Ajebo Interchange along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to make findings on how Deyoruwa could be located, but we were greeted with resistance by the locals selling corn, palm wine, pepper and bush meat among others at the road side close to the interchange.
As we parked our three-vehicle convoy beside the highway and we moved closer to the locals, our Convener, Otunba Deji Osibogun, a retired broadcaster and media entrepreneur of repute, fired the first salvo: “Good morning, my people. We heard about a community that was razed down around here sometime ago by some criminals camouflaging as herdsmen. Please do you know the community and if yes, can you lead us to the place?”
Oppressed but scared of freedom
However, the locals, apparently scared of volunteering information to strangers or do not want to be caught in the web of framing, denied knowledge of the incident but Osibogun, a veteran in intelligence gathering, would not take no as an answer. He probed further: “People, we are a Yoruba self-determination group here to protect your land against external occupation. I am an Otunba in Ijebuland, and with what God has done for me, I should be drinking tea at Sheraton now, but sadly, it seems you people are afraid of being freed from your oppressors…”
“But sir, it seems I heard about this case,” a palm wine seller, identified as Abiola Showumi, interrupted Otunba Osibogun. But as she was about continuing with her narratives, Yikini Rasaq, a road side vulcanizer, interrupted her with an intention of stopping her from speaking further to aliens. However, Osibogun, who is the Otunba Obaloja of Ijebuland, refused to be dribbled. He countered Yekini thus: “Hello young man, please allow this woman to talk. If you being a man is cowardly, allow this woman to talk for her freedom.”
From resistance to friendly informants
As a result of the valiant soldier approach of Otunba Osibogun and his emotion-laden response to Yekini, other locals who had gathered around us realised that their visitors are on a patriotic mission and began to cooperate with us amazingly.
We were briefed satisfactorily about how Deyoruwa, a haven to local farmers planting cassava, yam and maize in commercial quantities, was ambushed by those who would act like Fulani herdsmen, but rob and molest travellers day and night along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and jump into the ancient Remo village to seek refuge, burnt down unchallenged for seven hours by these criminals.
After many twists and turns, Yekini, supported by Muyibi Soronke, another local at the Ogunmakin-Ajebo Interchange, and one other person who does not want his name mentioned in the print, volunteered to accompany our team to Deyoruwa for an on the spot assessment of the wretched 50-year old ancient farm stead.
We made a u-turn at the interchange and proceeded to Deyoruwa. From the highway to Deyoruwa was a tumultuous journey. After leaving the highway, the road to Deyoruwa is a blot on the landscape, abysmally narrow, bushy and completely taken over by erosion, but the grace of God ensured that our vehicles survived the dreadfully terrific road.
Greeted by obscurity, ashes
Lo and behold, we got to Deyoruwa to be greeted by a totally shattered heritage and haven of the hardworking people of Isara community. All houses, mostly built with mud, were now in ruins. The wreckages of the branch of Methodist Church of Nigeria in the village have almost completely decayed.
The primary school, Eluju Primary School, with six classrooms, was annihilated by the arsonists without mercy. The only things that we could capture in the village were the leftover of the wood of some of the crushed buildings and the wreckage of a building constructed with modern block said to be the house of the village head who, along with his people, ran away when the assailants came and ordered them to leave the village with immediate effect.
Asking rhetorically, questions coming out of my mind were: How did this happen in the 21st century in the highly cerebral state like Ogun and it was not reported by any news medium? How did these criminals operate in a village near Ogunmakin-Ajebo community that has a fully armed Police Station and they were not challenged for seven hours? How come this happened in a village less than five minutes drive to the International Camp of Four Square Gospel Church of Nigeria and everywhere was silent?
We however got an interesting response from Yekini and Soronke, who, from their narrations, have full knowledge of the attack but pretended like strangers abinitio.
They said: “They are of Hausa-Fulani extraction. They would come as herdsmen during the day, thereby making it difficult to differentiate between armed robbers and Fulani herdsmen as their activities are unpredictable and unprecedented. They would kidnap and rob people along the express and run into the bush. During the day, they stay with our people here like herdsmen with like four to 20 cows, but from am to pm, they go to the main road to rob, sometime they kidnap people.
“Gradually, they started tormenting our people whenever they are resisted by the villagers. They threatened to kill anyone who dare challenge them. Sometime, they would order everyone out of the village for three hours whenever they want to operate. They would dispose their victims of their possessions; they even raped a woman one day because she had no money to give to them when they kidnapped her.
“One day, they came in the midnight and ordered everyone out and burnt down the entire village that used to be haven to many households. They bravely, with audacity, said to the villagers that they were obstructing the smooth running of the evil actions hence the total extermination of the ancient community.”
Yekini, a native of Olugbo village, near Abeokuta, corroborated by Soronke, another Egba man who claimed to have been living close to Denyoruwa for over 20 years, told our delegation.
A victim of Deyoruwa’s episode speaks
We left Deyoruwa out of pity but as we were coming out of the bushy and narrow road to link up with Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, we saw a light-skinned woman named Abigail Onasanya and we approached her for comment, but upon the interrogation of the Isara born farmer, we got more empirical facts about how Denyoruwa was attacked.
Madam Abigail, whose comment was taped with a video camera, revealed that she used to be one of the inhabitants of the now exterminated Deyoruwa. When asked why she left, she made it known that she came to the village with her husband’s family from Isara to farm, but they had to flee for their lives as it became unbearable due to the activities of the criminals masquerading as Herdsmen.
She said: “I was chased out of Deyoruwa with my Husband by criminals who always appeared like Herdsmen during the day but rob people along the express and kidnap for ransom. Though some of them speak Yoruba fluently, but majority of them are Fulani who rear cattle here. We are not allowed to farm anymore on our land. We now live in Isara but sometime, we come to the farm amidst fear and panic to farm and cut trees. I am here today with operators cutting tree for me.”
She confirmed that there used to be a school known as Eruju Primary School and a big Methodist Church prior to the annihilation of the village. And when asked an estimate of the villagers’ populations, Madam Abigail said there existed not less than 25 buildings with over 200 people.
A Canadian’s pungent nightmare at Deyoruwa intersection
Though Deyoruwa was burnt down almost two years ago, the criminals are still at on the prowl terrorising the people along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Despite that a Police Post is just three minutes drive from Deyoruwa junction along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the recent experience of a Canadian citizen, Kyliuk Morris, on the same spot was not a palatable one.
The Canadian, married to a Nigerian, was returning from Ibadan, Oyo State when these criminals descended on him and took him to Deyoruwa bush with her wife, who was later released to go source for ransom to release her lover.
Morris, a businessman based in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said he paid N2.5 million before he was freed by his abductors. He said he was fed with eba and contaminated water for three days.
At an interactive session with newsmen that was attended by me recently, the Canadian, flanked by his wife, Justina, said: “I decided to speak out so that Nigerian government can know about my ordeal. I was kidnapped some weeks ago along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Some people, pretending to be cattle herders, but had sophisticated weapons, ran into the road, shot at us and took us away. Everything happened within one minute.
“I spent three days inside the bush. They kidnapped me and my wife but later told my wife to go look for money to secure my release. They demanded for N20 million but they eventually released us after collecting N2.5 million.
“I am speaking out so that the general public can know that I have suffered for nothing other than investing my hard-earned money here in Nigeria. I have invested close to N500 million on Agriculture in Nigeria in the last four years, creating over 300 jobs in the process.
“The Nigerian Government has been begging foreigners to come invest here, but they have failed to provide security for investors. What I went through is very little compared to what some expatriates have gone through in the hands of armed robbers and kidnappers in Nigeria. In my own case, the police were even the one that collected the ransom from my wife to deliver it to the kidnappers to secure my release. This is pathetic.”
The heartbreaking account of Morris was corroborated by the duo of Yekini and Soronke. They said the wife of the Canadian was nearly killed because she did not want to cooperate with the kidnappers initially but she had to surrender when shots were fired by the criminals.
Police keep mum
I contacted the Police Public Relations officer of Ogun State Command, Abimbola Oyeyemi, for comment and clarifications to confirm whether police was aware of the annihilation of Deyoruwa, and if yes to know if arrests were made and to know if anyone was arraigned and prosecuted in the court of law and if yes to know if there have been convictions but no response to my text message to him as at the time of filing this report.
However, the police, reacting to the accusation slammed against the security agency by Morris as published already by some newspapers, denied that it helped deliver ransom to the kidnappers, describing the allegation as figment of Morris’s imaginations, warning kidnap victims against paying ransom whenever they are kidnapped so as to discourage the menace of kidnapping that is currently booming like wave of ocean in the country.
Prominent senior citizen confirms cheerless story
However, a prominent high chief from Ipara, a major community in the neighbourhood of Deyoruwa, confirmed the incident to me when I visited him in his residence. The chief, who did not want his name mentioned in the print, stated that when the men of the underworld struck, the Odemo of Isara, who was the traditional ruler of Isara, had not been installed. However, all the traditional rulers in the neighbouring towns put resources together to restore order to Deyoruwa.
Speaking further, the Chief, a former top banker, said with tears in his eyes: “In reality, they are herdsmen; they rear cows during the day but once it is evening time, they rob road users along the highways of their belongings and kidnap people for ransom.
“Deyoruwa used to be their hideout but one day, they burnt down the whole village because the villagers were trying to resist them. Yoruba people should brace up; our land has been cornered, but sadly, our leaders are currently occupied by aggrandizement politics.”
Recommendations and conclusion
In conclusion, we at the Yoruba Koya Leadership and Training Foundation call on the government at all levels, especially Governors in Yorubaland, to be extraordinarily vigilant and take the security of their people very serious.
With all due apologies to Anthony Ballot, I say with all responsibility and without any fear or intimidation that government should exist to protect the rich, the middle class, the poor and the poorest of the poor because all humans are equal before the law and our creator.
However, let me say very expressly that should there be segregation in the distribution of infrastructural amenities, protecting lives and safeguarding properties of the citizens should be of equality without preferential treatment and segregation whatsoever.
Today, criminals in herdsmen uniform are attacking farmers at will in Ekiti, they are terrorising the good people of Ondo State in their farms, the Omoluabi people in Osun, the state of living spring are lamenting on how their farm lands are being destroyed, the Oke Ogun axis of Oyo, the pace-setter of Yorubaland has already been encircled. Now, Ogun, the gateway to prosperity, is being penetrated day by day, a bad signal that Lagos, the commercial headquarters of Nigeria, is under threat. Efunra!!!
Consequently, we call on the government of Ogun State and well-meaning Yoruba people, especially those God has blessed in Gateway State, to ensure that Denyoruwa is rebuilt and turned to a commercial center to shame these criminals masquerading as herdsmen that there’s no territory for annexation in Yorubaland.
Oodua a gbe a oooooooo.
Adeleye, a trained Teacher, Researcher, Political Scientist and Media Practitioner, is the Director of Organization and Publicity, Yoruba Koya Leadership and Training Foundation. He can be reached via: +2347039168005 or [email protected].