Babatope Okeowo reports that the fear of rapists has gripped the students of Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH), Okitipupa, while the people of Ifon in Ose Local Government Area are also fretting over incessant killings and kidnapping in their domain as brigandry rules in Ondo State
Fear of rapists in OA USTECH
The fear of rapists is the beginning of wisdom for the female students of the Ondo State-owned Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH), Okitipupa, as not less than five of them have been sexually molested by suspected hoodlums in the satellite campus of the institution in recent weeks. The students of the institution, according to sources have complained about the activities of hoodlums in the town. Before this latest trend of raping, the gangsters usually just broke into the residents of the students and stole valuables including laptops, phones and electronic gadgets. The hoodlums did not limit their nefarious activities to students’ alone, but also to lecturers during the weekends or when the school is on vacation. The lecturers usually travel outside Ondo South where the institution is located; allowing the hoodlums to take advantage of this to deprive them of their valuables while they are away from home. But the introduction of rape into their modus operandi is giving the students, management and prominent indigenes of the town sleepless nights. This has now forced them to shun social activities that may make them stay away late, while they also sleep with the fear of being raped overnight. Worried by the incessant criminal activities of the hoodlums, the university’s students recently trooped out to register their displeasure over the incessant robberies at their hostels, threats to their lives, properties and possible rape. The students, during the protest, blocked the Okitipupa-Igbokoda road, disrupting free-flow of traffic on the route to register their grievances. The President, Students’ Union Government of the institution Damilola Okunomo, who confirmed the assault on the students, said they were tired of the level of insecurity in the area. He said the criminals rob students of their valuables like phones, laptops, gadgets and rape female students at gunpoint. Okunomo confirmed that some female students were raped two weeks ago, alleging that the institution’s management was not doing enough on the security of lives and properties of students. His words “We are tired of this insecurity; armed hoodlums usually come to our off-campus hostels to rob students at gunpoint, and also rape our female students. The school’s management is not doing enough as we are the ones securing ourselves by working as vigilantes most times, the situation is terrible. We urge the school’s management to do its best in securing us and complete all the uncompleted hostel accommodations on our campus as this will also guarantee our security.”
One of the students said she and her colleagues had to relocate to squat with a friend because of the activities of burglars and rapists. She said they threatened to use charms on them. Her words: “There was a night they came to our resident, they stole our phones, laptops and wounded one of us. We reported the incident to the Police and the Amotekun Corps without any action; instead they were demanding bribes from us before they can carry out their jobs.”
The management of the institution in its reaction through, the Dean of Students Affairs, Mr Ilemobayo Oguntimehin, said the school’s management was doing its best to secure the lives and properties of the students. The management promptly declared a two-week mid-semester break due to the insecurity. Some students who spoke on phone confirmed the break, even as all students have been directed to return home.
Prominent indigenes’ intervention
A prominent indigene of the town, Dele Gboluga Ikengboju expressed concerned over the hoodlums’ infiltration of OAUSTECH and the host communities in Okitipupa Local Government Area.
Ikengboju, a member of House of Representatives and running mate to Eyitayo Jegede during the last governorship election in the state, said: “In the past few days, there have been various reports of criminal elements invading homes and students’ hostels to perpetrate all sorts of atrocities, ranging from robbery, sexual harassment, physical assault, and intimidation of peaceful residents, including students and visitors. “The situation becomes more worrisome when it is degenerating into altercation between the students and the indigenes of the host communities. I wish to caution the parties involved to desist from taking any action capable of breaching the law and disrupting the peaceful coexistence among residents.” Ikengboju called for calm even as he urged security agencies and all concerned stakeholders to swing into action to arrest the situation by ensuring that a thorough investigation is carried out to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the fracas as well as bringing the culprits to book.
Insecurity in Ose LGA
The Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State has become a hotbed of violent crimes including kidnappings, robberies and assassinations. The Olufon of Ifon, Oba Israel Adeusi was not too long ago killed on his way back to his palace from Akure, the state capital. A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bamidele Emmanuel Isibor was also shot dead along the same axis that claimed the life of the first class monarch. Isibor was 62 years old when he was killed by unknown gunmen. Until his gruesome murder, Isibor, a retired top civil servant, and father of five, was a member of the state’s Executive Committee of the party.
APC condemns killings
The APC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Alex Kalejaye said it condemned the violent attack on its stalwart which led to his painful exit. Kalejaye in his statement said: “Security challenge has been a major focus of the APC-led government in Ondo State,for which so much has been done. The attack on Isibor and others has again underscored the need for every stakeholder to support the security initiative of the state government to stamp out all forms of criminality. “Praying for the repose of his gentle soul, the party condole with the Isibor family, his community, and the APC fold in Ose, and indeed, Ondo State, asking God to grant us the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
Residents of Ifon Community also lamented the incessant killings in the area. Speaking to journalists during an emergency meeting which took place in the community town hall in Ifon, the Coordinator of Progressive Minds, Hon. Olaniyi Eni-Olotu said the murder of Isibor, was coming when the area was yet to recover from the slaying of the Olufon of Ifon, late Oba Israel Adegoke Adeusi on November 26, 2020 by yet to be identified gunmen at Elegbeka village while returning from a meeting in Akure.
Eni-Olotu lamented that the community was thrown in another round of pandemonium on June 13, 2021, when kidnappers struck again along Imoru road in Ifon town, shooting sporadically at the vehicles plying the route. He said the unfortunate incidence led to the killing of the APC chieftain, Dele Isibor, having sustained severe injuries from the gunshots while four people were kidnapped by the gunmen.
He noted that the influx of the heavily armed herdsmen from other neighbouring states into the forest reserves and farmland in and around the community was now making life miserable for farmers and the inhabitants of the area. The armed men were said to be terrorising the area and responsible for the kidnapping and armed robberies occurring in the community lately. Eni-Olotu said: “It is so sad to note that the Police Divisional Headquarters in Ifon as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ifon office have no functional patrol vehicle which constitutes a major challenge for the security agencies in doing their job effectively and efficiently.”
The community also pleaded for the intervention of the President, Inspector General of Police and the government to fish out the killers of Oba Israel Adegoke Adeusi and Dele Isibor in order to bring them to book without further delay. “We also appeal that for the provision of patrol vehicles for the security agencies in Ifon to enhance their smooth operations of securing the land, also through heavy deployment of security operatives especially to the forest reserves. “All illegal occupants of the forest reserves and farmlands must be chased out without further delay,” he added.
One of the community leaders, Mr. Sunday Amudeli, who spoke at the meeting, said that Ifon community had been in the news for over a year as a result of insecurity and other wrong reasons either about killings or kidnappings. Amudeli further stated that Ifon occupies a strategic location in the state, serving as a boundary to Edo and Ondo states. His words: “A Mobile Police Station is needed as a matter of urgency or an establishment of a military barracks or a naval base. The community is conducive and is ready to provide the land for stability, peace and to maintain law and order.”
Phillip Ajakaye, who is the Ose Local Government PFN Chairman, said that Christians have put their heads together to pray because the community needs the intervention of God. His words: “Ifon community needs serious attention, with the Living God on our side, the intervention of the government and individuals we will succeed.” Speaking on behalf of the Youths, Abdullahi Ekere said that they do not want to take law into their hands that is why they are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, the IGP, military and the state government to provide effective security in the area. Another Ifon indigene, Mr. Adeola Adedipe said that information reached them that two people came to buy food in large quantity, enough to feed ten people and as they were going, another person joined them in the bush. His words: “We did trace them immediately so as to know where they will branch.
They got to a certain place in the forest and blew whistled we saw another came out from the bush. But when they realized we were tracing them, they moved their bike and they were fully armed with weapons. “We later tracked them, wrestled with them and we were able to get the bike rider. During the struggle, my partner was stabbed in the neck and his arm but one of them was apprehended and was handed over to the military officer who was later released for reasons known to them.” Saliu Omotoso, a community leader and Secretary of Ifon Security Committee, said that the community called on the government to come to their rescue by giving the youths and hunters room to compliment efforts of the security agencies. Omotoso said: “We enjoin all our brothers and sisters to let us join hands together to support the police so that they can checkmate these criminals.”
Police intervention Men of the State Police Command said they arrested three sex perverts naming Ojo Olaniyi, Akinseye Bayo and Akintosoye Ayo as some of the suspects. They were alleged to have gang-raped one Ogungbemi Adewumi after getting her drunk. Although the incident did not happen in Okitipupa, but in Araromi Street, Ondo town, the suspects have confessed to their atrocious act.
The incident, according to the Police forced the sister of the victim who saw her nude, to report the incident to the Police. While reacting to the Ifon issue, the Police Public Relations Officer PPRO in the state, DSP Tee-Leo Ikoro, sympathized with the family of the deceased, adding that everyone knows that the country is going through a new phase of security challenges. The PPRO said: “The police are not magicians; it is the people that will give them information.
Concerning the issue of the monarch that was killed last year, an investigative team is carrying out an investigation as ordered by the Commissioner of Police.” He enjoined the community being the border town to be at alert and always report any issue that they are not identified with, adding that the entire country needs attention and the police need more people to help. While stating that logistic is a major problem of the police, Ikoro pleaded that the people can help them in any way they can.