Those who shot me are Fulani-Says Ekiti Oba


Those who shot me are Fulani-Says Ekiti Oba

Increasing attacks
on Yoruba monarchs show we need fortification-Ekiti Oba shot by bandits

By Abiodun Nejo

A first-class traditional ruler in Ekiti State, the Elewu of Ewu Ekiti, Oba Adeniran Ajayi, who recently survived gunshot attack by bandits, speaks to ABIODUN NEJO about the experience
Kabiyesi, congratulations on your survival of the recent gunshot attack on you. How did the attack happen?

God is always on our side. My chiefs were with me in the palace that day, April 9, 2021. I took someone to Ayetoro, a neighbouring community in Ido/Osi council area. I dropped him off and midway while returning to Ewu, I drove into the bandits. They positioned themselves by the roadside, covering themselves with leaves; I did not even see them.

I drove myself. On sighting my car, they started shooting. There were over 12 bullets recovered. I was maneuvering while they shot. One bullet came straight and hit me in the hand, hit my tummy on the right side and came out from the other side, then hit my left arm. It was God that saved me. When that happened, I slumped inside the car. Then I saw blood, I had to summon courage. I tried to move the car out of the place, but the boys rushed down to me. I asked them what they wanted; they said I should give them money. I said, ‘If it is money you want, look at (my) blood.’ But all they kept saying was ‘Give us money.’ I had N57,000 on me and thank God I had that money. I can identify the young man who collected the N57,000 from me in a crowd because I saw him quite well. The boys did not wear masks. There was even a vehicle approaching, but on seeing what was happening, the driver turned back and zoomed off. But then, the way a vehicle overtook me before I got to the point where I was shot still gives me worries that it might be the driver who notified them that I was coming, but I cannot substantiate that.

As I gave them the money, they ran to my car and took my three phones. One of them who stood by the passenger’s side said, ‘I want to kill you.’ I replied, ‘What will you kill an old man like me for? You said you wanted money and I have given you money.’ He then said, ‘Okay, you can go.’ Then I asked him to close the car’s door and he did. So, I pulled back, gathered myself together and drove off to the palace with my blood dripping all the way. From the palace, a driver drove me to Iye Ekiti for first aid care. From there, I was rushed to the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido Ekiti, but they said the doctors were on strike. While at Ido Ekiti, we managed to stop the bleeding through ‘African science’ and blood stopped gushing out. From there, I was rushed down to Afe Babalola University Multi-Systems Hospital in Ado Ekiti.

How did the doctors at the Afe Babalola University handle your case?

Born in Lagos, I attended secondary school in Ondo and went to Britain after secondary school. I have travelled far and wide but I have not seen that type of hospital at Afe Babalola anywhere else. The hospital and the personnel are marvelous. They have what it takes to rescue patients. Without wasting time, they took me from one stretcher to another. Within the twinkle of an eye, they had done the needful to save my life. The striking doctors at FETHI should have allowed at least one or two doctors to stay on duty to attend to emergency cases. But then, I thank God there was no doctor on the ground at FETHI to attend to emergency cases, otherwise we wouldn’t have thought of going to ABUADMSH. The Afe Babalola University hospital is a very big blessing in that part of the country.

Insecurity in the region hadn’t always been this bad. What do you think has gone wrong?

People are saying the attack on me was a planned handiwork of enemies; but do I believe that? But if it was enemies’ work, they have failed. I came face-to-face with death but the Almighty God brought me out.

The challenge is from the government. Everywhere is porous, so young boys organise themselves to become kidnappers. They see it as the quickest way to get money. (This would not have been so) had there been enough factories and the private investors are encouraged to start businesses and provide gainful employment for the youths. When they (governments) say they have agriculture programmes for the youths, rather than give the task to the right people, they would be distributing the slots in the offices in Abuja and Ado Ekiti without getting to the grassroots. Insecurity is a product of youth unemployment. Look at Volkswagen Nigeria, Peugeot Nigeria, Leyland at Ibadan, Datsun at Bauchi, rather than building on them, they (government) killed all of them. Our government is talking about subsidy, do we need to subsidise something whose raw material we produce? Is that not ridiculous? They deliberately killed the government-owned refineries. Subsidy is a quick way to make money. Why can’t we develop and build our own refineries so that we can start refining crude oil? Nigeria should be in a position to determine the market price of refined petrol, rather than exporting crude oil. These are the things that cause lot of setbacks. The big entrepreneurs are gone. There were Kingsway stores, UTC stores, Leventis stores, which had outlets in many towns and cities and employed many young school leavers. These were conglomerates that were supposed to be encouraged, but they were killed. We are drifting backwards.

How do you feel to be back in your palace and community?

It is not even my own feeling but that of my community. You had to see the number of people that came to Ado Ekiti, the number of people that slept on the bare floor in front of the hospital. I thank them. Again, the calibre of people that came to the hospital gives me the greatest joy. Aare Afe Babalola, the Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi; the Ajero of Ijero Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Adewole; the Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Michael Ademolaju; the Anglican Bishop of Ekiti Oke, Bishop Olatunde Olubowale; Ekiti Police Commissioner, Tunde Mobayo; and countless eminent personalities were at the hospital to visit me. I am humbled and grateful. The day I returned to Ewu after being discharged from the hospital was like a triumphant entry. The whole town jubilated, singing praises to God Almighty.

But why do you think anybody could have been after your life?

Up till now, I don’t think so. People say that, but I don’t think so. But if it was the handiwork of my detractors, they have all failed. Maybe I have not done enough for humanity; I will step up my effort now.

You saw the attackers, where do you think they are from?

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Those who attacked me, those that were shooting were Fulani people. I had never seen the type of cutlass I saw with them in my life. We don’t use that type of cutlass in the South-West here. I worked in Lagos, Calabar, Port Harcourt and Makurdi, I did not see that type of cutlass. It is a cutlass from Mali, Senegal, not the type we use here. If anybody thinks they are Yoruba, I disagree. They were six in number and they were all armed with AK-47 rifles and cutlasses. There was one with a long gun.

Six days after the attack on you, a traditional ruler was kidnapped at Ilemeso Ekiti. Are Ekiti traditional rulers worried about their safety?

We meet every month and we discuss security at length. We, as Obas, should get our priorities right. As an individual and a traditional ruler, I will encourage someone like Sunday Igboho to come and lecture and even help the innocent ones among us in the area of fortification and the defence of the people. I told you that ‘African science’ was used to stop bleeding. Why can’t we, Obas, invite Igboho so that we can explore ‘African science’ to protect our communities? I think such powers should be imparted on our people for protection.

But these days, many traditional rulers are either Christians or Muslims and many say African science is fetish.

Those that are healthy need no physician. Was the Biblical Naaman, the leper, a Christian? Imagine the power in that river, the spirit of Elisha that followed him to the river. When Elisha came back from Elijah, people were standing at the other bank of the river watching how he was going to cross River Jordan, the spirit of Elijah descended on Elisha and that spirit empowered him to cross River Jordan. In the spirit of encouraging people (monarchs) to defend their people, we should not see it as something that is against the Bible or the Quran. That is the logic.

Will you describe the current trend of bandits’ attacks on Yoruba monarch as a desecration of their stools and positions?

It is an abomination. We have to unite and push against it. From the shores of Lagos to Kogi to Kwara to Edo to the riverine areas of Ondo and Ogun states, we have to make ourselves one. In the past, the Obas fought wars and excelled; we have to go back to that age, we need it.

By joining hands and working together, we can overcome. For instance, Amotekun needs people like Sunday Igboho in the area of fortification. The operatives should be empowered in the native way. The OPC members and Amotekun are supposed to be able to, through native means, know where the bandits/kidnappers are in the forests. Igboho will tell you that all the people recruited into Amotekun for now are political party members. How can somebody who cannot defend himself defend others?

What advice do you have for federal and state governments on insecurity?

Is the Federal Government doing anything to secure the lives of the people? I just can’t imagine a situation where hoodlums are chasing a sitting governor, where citizens are being slaughtered anyhow, where schoolchildren or university students are being kidnapped or killed by any group, under any name. If there is seriousness, security should be stepped up. In Ekiti here, the governor should mobilise people now. There is a need for our people to work hand-in-hand. There is a need to imbibe the type of action used by former governor Ayodele Fayose to arrest those who kidnapped at Esure. Government is a continuum, so whatever is worth copying from the past administration should be copied. Nobody has monopoly of knowledge, so that style should be embraced – even if it involves engaging herbalists, clerics, hunters.

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