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Communal war: Farmer caught in crossfire battles for life

By Dayo Johnson, Akure
Two communities -Othape and Igbede-in Akoko South-east area of Ondo State have since 2009 after a court verdict  been at war.

A dispute over land has seen them using dangerous weapons against ‘trespassers,’ so to say, on the land.
The latest victim, 32-year -old farmer, Oyeyemi Omobolade, nearly lost his life after he left his house located in Othape to farm on the disputed land.

Oyeyemi was attacked with machetes by his assailants and left to die. Timely rescue by security agents saved him.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the genesis of the attack could be traced to an age-long disputed land between the two communities.

The people of Othape said a court adjudicated on the land in their favour and have petitioned Ondo State police commissioner through their solicitor Steve Adebowale.
The legal practitioner said in the petition, “The Igbede community is seeking to expand the frontiers of the initial grant even though the land they occupied, which was measured, was granted to their ancestors by the Othape community.”

Adebowale  explained that the Othape community initiated steps to bring the said dispute within the confines of court while the case was struck out because of the failure of igbede community who is the plaintiff failed to show up at the court.

According to the lawyer, Omobolade and two of his friends headed to farm  not knowing that some people from Igbede had laid an ambush for them. He added that Omobolade’s friends were lucky to escape unhurt while the victim was attacked with machetes and left to die.

“Our client Oyeyemi Omobolade was brutalised and is currently hospitalised. He has been referred from Ipe Akoko General Hospital to the state Specialist Hospital in Akure and was further referred to a private medical consultant. The doctors are currently battling to save his life.”
The solicitor said the petition became imperative in order to forestall crisis in Ipe-Akoko.

He warned, “If no action is taken, Othape community dwellers may be attacked   to the point of starting a reprisal action in order to prevent Igbede from exterminating them.”
Also, the head of Othape, who is also the Olosan of Ipe Akoko, Chief Ajiwojuoluwa Omobolade, has petitioned the inspector General of Police, Mr.   M.D. Abubakar over the issue and called for an unbiased investigation into the matter.

He said Othape gave Igbede forebearers land to settle in. According to him, with time, Igbede started trespassing beyond what was given to their forebears and claiming to be the rightful owner of the land.  He said further that Othape was dragged to court over the issue but when the representatives of Igbede saw the hand writing on the wall, they tactically withdrew from the case.

The petitioner stated that the attack on Oyeyemi was reported to the police in the area with a petition forwarded to Ondo State commissioner of police but said none of the attackers has been arrested.
“We are presently living in perpetual fear as the Igbede community is not only bent on robbing us of our land, but exterminating us because of their numerical strength and influence”.

But a spokesman for Igbede, Chief Adebola Adeleye, punctured the allegation that the people of his community are the aggressors.
Adeleye said the court case on the land dispute is still pending and has not been thrown out as alleged.
According to him, there was a clash in which people from both communities were seriously injured.

He said the person that was challenged was trespassing on the land and, when challenged,   mobilised   people from his community and a clash ensued leaving many wounded from both sides.
Meanwhile, while palpable tension enveloped the communities, police detectives have picked up some of those allegedly behind the land dispute.

Police image maker in Ondo State, Wole Ogodo, confirmed the arrest of the suspects, adding that some persons were seriously injured in the dispute.
Ogodo added that after Oyeyemi was attacked by some people from the other community on the disputed land, his community people retaliated by attacking some people in Igbede.

The police spokesman said they had not been able to obtain statement from Oyeyemi because he was still on admission in hospital.
Ogodo denied that some prominent sons of Igbede are   trying to frustrate the arrest of   the sponsors of the crisis.



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