By Dayo Johnson, Akure
The feud between two communities in Ondo State over rubber plantation has continued as the umbrella body of the Araromi community, Araromi – Obu Development Council, ICU, took on the leader of lkale community, General Oluyemi Bajowa, dismissing his assertion that Araromi-Obu people are settlers.
It equally disputed the general’s claim that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was biased in his handling of the land dispute between the warring communities in which four people were murdered, houses and vehicles set ablaze, necessitating a 24-hour-curfew in Ago – Alaye since July 18.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Senator Omololu Meroyi, ICU noted that Araromi-Obu has been in existence for over 500 years with the present Ajobu, Oba Aderemi Adelola, the 18th occupant of the throne.
“It is therefore shocking that in spite of an avalanche of documentary evidence freely signed by the Ikales as tenants of our forefathers spanning over a century, they could turn round to assert that Araromi-Obu people are settlers on their land”, ICU said.
Dismissing the allegation of bias on the part of the governor and the state police command, the group said Ondo State government and security agencies merely moved against mindless bloodletting, arson, wanton destruction of lives and property.
“It is on record that in order to prevent the outbreak of hostilities, several peace meetings were initiated by Ondo State government, the police and the Directorate of Security Services by the Ajobu and his people but surprisingly shunned by the Abodi of Ikoya”, it said.
“Also, Ondo State Commissioner of Police, in a bid to avert the looming clash, visited the area and appealed to the Araromi-Obu and Ikale people to maintain peace and allow the judicial process to be exhausted since Araromi-Obu had appealed the judgment”.
However, ICU alleged that shortly after the visit of the Commissioner of Police, the attack on the people of Araromi-Obu by the Ikales assumed a more frightening dimension as farmlands were invaded, farm produce harvested and carted away, people molested, harassed and abducted on their farms, all in a bid to take over the Rubber Estate Nigeria Limited.
READ ALSO: Council of Imams berates CAN Chairman over alleged politicization of security issues in Kaduna
“The breakdown of law and order prompted the visit of Ondo State governor as Chief Security Officer of the state accompanied by the heads of security agencies”, it added.
“The governor should be commended for the visit as his prompt intervention and the deployment of security men has ensured the return of peace to the area.
“We also wish to debunk the claim of the Ikale people who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the wanton destruction of lives and property that they were part of the delegation to appraise the governor of their position.
“We are satisfied with the fatherly role Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has played as an impartial arbiter in the conflict.
“We condemn in strong terms the vituperation of General Oluyemi Bajowa whose aim is to tarnish the image of our governor as the Chief Security Officer of the state
“We need to remind General Bajowa that we are no longer under military dictatorship and need to accord respect to constituted authority derived from the mandate of the people of Ondo through the ballot and not through the barrel of gun.
“We support all the measures taken by Ondo State government to bring lasting peace to Araromi-Obu and environs including the newly constituted panel of enquiry to ascertain the cause(s) of the crisis and promise to cooperate with the panel to achieve set-objectives”.
Meanwhile, the lkale community, through the lkale Central Organisation (ICO), in a statement by its Chairman and Secretary, Bayo Ehinmosan and Akinyemi Aiyebiwo respectively, has cried out over what they described as hardship being experienced by them following the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state government on July 16 after the bloodshed occasioned by the land dispute with the Araromi community
According to them, the curfew has made life almost impossible for Ikale residents to live.
They, however, lauded the governor for setting up the probe panel to look into the crisis.
The ICO pleaded with Akeredolu to provide a level-playing ground for them to appear before the panel by removing completely the curfew.
“Members of the two communities are expected to step out before the committee to present their respective sides of the story”, the group said.
“However, as things are now, only one side to the conflict, the side that initiated aggression, is free to present her story.
“Since the governor visited Ago-Alaye, our community has remained under 24-hour curfew with the attendant hardship that has made living almost impossible for the Ikale residents.
“On the other side, the aggressors, in and out of Araromi-Obu, have been living their normal lives and organising for the committee”.
In another development, the state Information and Orientation Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, said the 24-hour curfew in Ikale had been relaxed and “detained persons unconnected to the crisis ordered to be released by the governor”.
“The new curfew regime will henceforth be dusk to dawn; that is, twelve hours (from 6pm-6am) until further notice”, he said.
The Tunde Atere Panel of Inquiry probing the Araromi-Obu and Ikale (Ago-Alaye) has three weeks to submit its report.
In a twist, government officials in the state have been barred from making public statements on the matter.
A statement by Ojo Oyewamide,
Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the Governor, said this will allow the panel set up by government to be dispassionate in its assignment.