There was palpable tension between residents of Ile-Ife and Modakeke of Osun State on Friday, following the killing of five farmers from Modakeke along Toro Road in the early hours of the day.
The five victims, all male, were found dead on the road to Toro village, where they reportedly had farms.
A community leader in Modakeke, Mr Femi Eluyinka, who confirmed the incident in an interview with our correspondent, said some people from the town, accompanied by police operatives, evacuated the corpses.
Eluyinka, who said the incident had aggravated tension in Modakeke town, said, “Policemen operatives have arrived; tension is on the rise; five of them (deceased) were indigenes of Modakeke and they were killed this morning along Toro road. They were heading to their farm.”
He further explained that personal details of the victims would be released by the police, adding that shops and business places hurriedly shut down as panic spread across the town after the incident.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the Osun State Police Command, Yemisi Opalola, said, “We heard some people were killed and the Commissioner of Police has deployed more policemen into the area.”
The remains of the victims, it was learnt, were later taken to the morgue of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife.
However, while motorcyclists that accompanied the corpses, conveyed in a police van to the morgue, were returning to Modakeke through Enuwa, Ile-Ife, sources said there was an attempt to attack Ooni’s palace.
An eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, said some youths from Ife who had mobilised and waited at the entrance of the palace, repelled them and arrested some of the youths, as well as some of their motorcycles.
The Osun State Commissioner of Police, Olawale Olokode, on Friday, met some Ile-Ife chiefs, as the command intensified efforts to dispel tension caused by the killing of five Modakeke indigenes by unknown assailants.
At the meeting held in Ooni’s Palace were Obalufe of Iremo, Chief Idowu Adediwura and Lowa of Ife, Chief Adekola Adeyeye, amongst others.
Speaking to Saturday PUNCH after the meeting, Adeyeye, who appealed for calm, said the police had assured Ife community that the perpetrators of the crime would be apprehended and brought to book.
He said, “Osun State Commissioner of Police acted promptly. The intervention doused the tension, and the CP promised that incident of such would never happen in our community again. We call for calm as the police unravel the mystery behind the killing.
“He promised that police would ensure that those behind the incident would not go unpunished. There was an attempt to attack the palace but that was repelled. Some of the attackers were arrested and handed over to the police.”
A Modakeke community leader, Eluyinka, who spoke to our correspondent after Olokode met representatives of the community at Ogunsua’s palace, said soldiers had been deployed to maintain peace.
He said, “The Commissioner of Police was here and a senior army officer from Ede also came to address the youth and preach peace. They met us at Ogunsua’s palace. For now, the situation is under control. We are also trying to appeal for calm. Soldiers have been deployed in the town.”
Meanwhile, Osun State Government has allayed the fears of a possible resurgence of the Ife/Modakeke crisis, and appealed to the people of the areas not to allow criminal elements to seize any situation to unleash mayhem on the people.
The government also said it had also ordered immediate deployment of armed policemen with support from the army to the troubled areas to forestall possible breakdown of law and order.
The state Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mrs Funke Egbemode, in a statement on Friday after a meeting of government officials with heads of security agencies on the security situation in Ife and Modakeke areas, also advised residents and citizens not to take the laws into their hands.
The statement read in part, “Mr Governor (Oyetola) personally spoke to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and the Ogunsua of Modakeke, Oba Moses Oyediran Oladejo and they both assured him of their commitment to peace by ensuring that the people from both areas also continue to remain peaceful and law abiding.
“As government, we are resolved to do everything possible to protect citizens from actual and potential threats. To this end, we have ordered immediate deployment of security operatives to restore law and order.
“We have also directed security operatives to arrest and prosecute any person found fomenting trouble and to fish out those responsible for the killing of the five farmers.
“Government enjoins all citizens to be peaceful and to be law-abiding as all efforts shall be made to protect them and their property.”