A prince from the Okanla community in Osun State, Jimoh Oladimeji, talks to BOLA BAMIGBOLA, about the burning of Olokanla of Okanla’s palace, and the alleged killing of his nephew, Qudus Ibraheem, by suspected hoodlums on September 17
What is your occupation?
My name is Prince Jimoh Oladimeji. I am a prince from Okanla town in the Irepodun Local Government Area of Osun State. I am a kola nut and cocoa farmer. I am also a traditional medicine practitioner. I have a higher national diploma in Banking and Finance from the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree.
Where exactly is Okanla located?
Okanla is located very close to Ilobu in the Irepodun Local Government Area of Osun State. Okanla is not a compound. It is a separate community and people around that axis know that we are a community with its monarch and chiefs. We have our monarch. My father was the sixth Olokanla. He became Olokanla in 1990, and he died in 1999. Since then, the stool has been vacant.
Why has the stool remained vacant?
The person designated to be the next Olokanla was Alhaji Ganiyu Arulogun, but he died recently. Okanla and Arulogun people are from the same family lineage.
What happened on September 17?
I left my house early that day, but my wife suddenly called and informed me that some people had invaded the house. She said the invaders were shooting indiscriminately. When I asked her who they were, she said that they were many and she ended the call.
Later, I called her back and she explained that about 50 people had invaded our house in Okanla. According to her, some of the invaders covered their faces, while others did not cover their faces. My wife was able to identify one of them who did not cover his face and walked barefoot and another who also walked barefoot.
What else did they do in your house?
While they were shooting into the air in front of my house, my wife pleaded with them to stop and promised them that she would open the door and enable them to come out. They then stopped shooting and my wife opened the door and came out. They told her to go on her knees and she obeyed them.
Was she assaulted?
She was manhandled. They asked her about my whereabouts and she told them that she did not know where I went that morning. They ordered those in the house to come out, so Jamiu, my younger brother, my newborn baby, my first child, and another person came out of the house. There were five occupants in the house.
The assailants waited for me to return but that didn’t happen, so they vandalised the house, damaged the doors, and left for my father’s palace. The palace is our family house but my father, the late Olokanla of Okanla, used the building as his palace when he was alive. I used to go to the building every morning to offer prayers. So, after waiting for me to return to my house and not seeing me, they decided to proceed to my father’s palace. My car was parked outside the building and the son of my elder brother, Ibraheem Qudus, who was an admission seeker, was sleeping inside the house when the assailants got to the building. Qudus was killed, his body was kept in the trunk of the car that they met on the premises and the house and car were set ablaze.
Can you confirm that those who went to your residence are the same people who raided your father’s palace?
It was the same set of people. It was because they could not find me in the house that made them to attack my father’s palace. They were the perpetrators of the heinous crime. I was told that the palace was not affected by the fire when they (attackers) tried to set it ablaze the first time. So, they left but later returned and set it ablaze.
What were the items destroyed when the building was razed?
Fortunately, we were able to recover the ancient crown of our forefathers that was buried by my father inside that building but every other valuable thing got burnt. Sadly, renovation work was ongoing on the building but those criminals destroyed the building.
I may not be able to say the actual worth of the valuables burnt in the palace, but I know they will be worth millions of naira. Money can’t buy many of those things destroyed. We had documents, cultural items, and many other things there. The Osun State Government should interfere by constituting a panel that will investigate this matter. The panel must be ready to meet all affected people. If that is done, truth will prevail.
What went through your mind when you learnt that the assailants had gone to your father’s house?
I was filled with fear. The killing of Qudus, who happened to be my niece, was shocking to me. It was the most painful thing for me. I brought him from Lagos to live with me, after the death of his father two years ago. He was already seeking admission to a university. I am pleading with Nigerians to support my efforts to get justice for the deceased. The perpetrators must be brought to book and they must face the consequences of their actions.
Did you have a premonition of the attack?
Before the attack, I had earlier told my elder brother that I heard some people were planning to attack me. I told him I would like to report the matter to the Department of State Services in Irepodun and Orolu. My brother said he also heard about the plan and added that he already informed the security agents about it.
Did Qudus tell you that his life was in danger before he was killed?
I didn’t get any sign that such an evil thing would happen to him. What I told him on Saturday evening, a day before the incident, was that he should make sure that he withdrew his feeding allowance that I paid into his account the following day. I parked the car in front of the palace and locked it. I also told him he should not allow children to play near the car.
If I had any odd feeling or sign, I would have told him to leave the house and move my car and other valuables out of the place too. I regretted asking him to relocate back home. I never knew it would end this way. I had good intentions.
Where was Qudus’ mother and how did you break the news to her?
His mother was really sad. It is painful to lose someone dear in such a cruel way. The perpetrators are not human; they are unfit to live among people. She called me when heard the news that the palace was attacked. I told her to return home. When she got home and saw what happened, she asked about her son. She later saw the burnt corpse of the boy and the car. It was difficult to console her.
Initially, I didn’t know Qudus was set ablaze. I thought he was hiding and was afraid to come out after the palace was attacked. The reason why I asked his mother to come was that I wanted her to help me plead with his son to come out from wherever he was hiding. Before we discovered he was burnt with my vehicle, I was shouting his name all over the community, but there was no response. The grieving mother has remained inconsolable. She had returned to her base.
Do you know why you were attacked and did you report the incident to the police?
I can’t categorically say what the reason was. Clearly, the attack was fuelled by hatred. My forefathers in Okanla wore a crown and settled in the community several years ago. Some people are not happy about our presence in the community. We have fully briefed the police about what could have caused the attack and I am sure they are working on it. Those who carried out the attack went back to report in a palace near Okanla when they left our community. This is not the first time the people of Okanla have been attacked, harassed, and injured for no reason.
Have you been briefed by the police on the outcome of the investigation or what they have done so far on the matter?
As of October 2, no one had been arrested in connection with the incident. I went to the police state command to write a statement a day after the incident happened. My wife, who saw the perpetrators, also went to the state Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department at the Osun State Police Command headquarters in Osogbo to write a statement. Since then, we have not heard anything about it. None of those who perpetrated the crime have been arrested. I believe if anyone had been arrested, the police would have informed us but there has been no word from them. We plead with the police to act on our complaint. The perpetrators may do something similar next time if they are not checked now.