Gloom! Absolute state of depression and despondency! This was the atmosphere, yesterday, at the residence of nonagenarian and Afenifere patriarch, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, as sympathisers streamed in to express their condolences on the killing of his 58-year-old daughter, Mrs. Funke Olakunri.
Suspected bandits had shot Mrs. Olakunri dead on Friday along Akure-Ondo road, Ondo state. And an admixture of damning condemnations and heartfelt condolences has continued to trail her gruesome murder.
The condemnations were for the suspected herdsmen who committed the dastardly act; upbraid for the Federal Government that has continued to neglect urgent national calls to action on growing insecurity across the nation, and the unending stream of condolences for the aged and grieving Pa Fasoranti, family members and well-wishers of the slain Olakunri.
Yesterday, eminent Nigerians lent their voices to the sordid occurrence. They included former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, and chieftain of Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
Others were former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, former Ondo State helmsman, Olusegun Mimiko, as well as leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the Publicity Secretary of Middle Belt forum, Dr. Isuwa Dogo.
Amid the grief, President Muhammadu Buhari contacted Pa Fasoranti, via telephone, and condoled with the grieving nonagenarian, wishing him the comfort of God, and fortitude to bear the great loss.
He assured that security agencies would spare no effort to apprehend the culprits, and bring them to justice.
But former President Obasanjo said that the killing of Mrs. Olakunri was a worrisome development in the polity, especially, at a time when well-meaning Nigerians were preaching tolerance and political accommodation in national politics.
He said: “We call on governments at all levels to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that our security agents vigorously pursue and find the perpetrators of such heinous crime and make them face the full weight of the law. We must, together, find solution to all acts of insecurity in the country, particularly acts of banditry, kidnapping, robbery and killing by the suspected Fulani herdsmen,” he said.
In his condolence letter, Obasanjo expressed sympathy and implored Pa Fasoranti to be strong for the entire family. “I pray that God Himself will comfort you and sustain the whole family in this hour of painful trial. And may the soul of the dear departed rest in perfect peace,” he added.
Governors Makinde, Fayemi, Akeredolu, on their parts, also condemned the killing. While Makinde described the murder as shocking and despicable, and called on security agencies to get to the root of the ugly incident, Fayemi said the loss of Mrs. Olakunrin was “very sad and devastating.”
Fayemi urged security agencies to come up with a comprehensive approach towards ending the menace of killings and kidnapping in several parts of the country.
Ondo State governor, Akeredolu, was in the company of his Chief of Staff, Chief Gbenga Ale, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Engr. Ade Adetimehin and other members of the State Executive Council, when he paid a condolence visit to the Fasorantis.
While condoling with the husband of the deceased, Mr. Idowu Olakunrin, he described the murder of the late Mrs. Olakunrin as an ugly incident, stressing that it is undoubtedly a death too many.
Akeredolu said: “All of us are worried and there are some measures that have to be taken to prevent recurrence. We must take whatever steps we want take to tackle this issue of insecurity in order not to allow this happen again.”
He said the death of Funke Olakunrin was a personal loss, adding that it was like mourning a relative whose life had just been cut short.”
In a similar vein, former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel said that with the recent incident, Nigeria was gradually heading towards a dangerous precipice.
Daniel expressed the fear that people might be pushed to seeking alternative means of protecting themselves if governments at all levels remained complacent in curbing the activities of hoodlums in whatever guise.
“It is high time we found a more proactive measure towards stemming the scourge that is gradually leading us to a state of anarchy. The activities of the hoodlums masquerading as herdsmen are becoming worrisome by the day and Nigerians, especially the people of the South West are becoming impatient watching their own people being killed nearly on daily basis,” he added.
Chief Adebanjo accused the Federal Government, led by President Buhari, of complexities over the suspected Fulani herdsmen menace in the country.
Adebanjo, who led members of the Afenifere group to the Akure residence of their leader, Chief Fasoranti, yesterday, wept openly over the killing of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin.
He condemned the silence of FG over the continued killing in the land by Fulani herdsmen despite the cries by people across the country.
Adebanjo attributed the security challenges to the Federal structure, which incapacitated the state governors, who are not empowered to deal with the security situation in their domain.
He decried a situation where a supposed Federal state is being run in a unitary structure and lamented the fact that governors who are said to be Chief Security Officers of their various states had no authority to give instructions to Commissioners of Police in critical situations.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has assured that the killers of Mrs. Olakunrin will be found and made to face the full weight of the Law.
In a statement yesterday by Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, the IGP said the Ondo State Police Command, backed by Special Forces and seasoned investigators from the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU) deployed from the Force Headquarters, Abuja, on his directives, had commenced a massive manhunt for the killers with a view to tracking, arresting and bringing them to justice.
On his Twitter page yesterday, President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina had inferred that armed robbers killed Pa Fasoranti’s daughter and not Fulani herdsmen as claimed by eyewitnesses. Adesina, while consoling the nonagenarian, had debunked claims linking the incident to Fulani herdsmen.
But some eminent Nigerians who spoke with The Guardian decried the hasty defence of the herdsmen when government has yet to apprehend those linked to recent killings.
Reacting on Olakunrin’s demise, Publicity Secretary of Middle Belt forum, Dr. Isuwa Dogo said his sadness was not just about the death of Fasoranti’s daughter but the fact innocent Nigerians are being slaughtered daily by unknown persons.
Dogo warned that nobody should defend any particular ethnic group in the face of serious security challenges.
Former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope expressed greater shock at the haste of the Presidency in claiming that the act couldn’t have been committed by armed herdsmen but armed robbers.
Babatope said considering how Fasoranti served Nigeria as a great nationalist under the late Premier Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, this is not the right manner he ought to paid back in old age.
Babatope said,“Nigeria is gradually drifting into chaos under Buhari with the way innocent people are being hounded by armed herdsmen and other bandits especially in the South. The government should face the issues of insecurity without displaying sentiment.”
In similar vein, the Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land, Otunba Gani Adams in a statement by his spokesman, Kehinde Aderemi, the founder of Oodua Peoples Congress said, “We shouldn’t be blamed when we react. Yoruba race is not at a loss as to what to do to put a complete stop to the atrocities of the Fulani herdsmen, but have continuously issued statements so as to call the attention of the entire world to the development in the Southwest.”
Adams said the Yoruba people were not paper tigers and dogs who can only bark without biting, adding: “We only want the whole world to know what has been done and is being done to our people. They should be aware of the actions that preceded our reaction when it eventually comes. We are not bereft of ideas of how to stop this criminality on our land. It is just so that we should not be blamed when the reaction comes.”
A delegate to the 2014 National Conference, Col. Tony Nyiam commiserated with father of the deceased just as he expressed displeasure over Buhari’s disposition on the matter.
– The Guardian