Sunday, April 6, at 11 a.m. in St . John’s Anglican Church, Oke-Sopen, Ijebu-Igbo in Ijebu-North local government area of Ogun State, ten gunmen invaded the house of God and snuffed life out of Chief Adetola Okuneye, a furniture maker and alleged informant to Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
Okuneye, a septugenarian, was said to have just finished reading the Bible lesson when the gun wielding men stormed the church, headed to where Okuneye sat and shot him in the head in the presence of the pastor and members of the congregation.
Sunday Vanguard findings revealed that the deceased may have stepped on the toes of some powerful people who vowed to take his life.
Security sources disclosed that the killing of a cult leader in Ijebu-North, simply identified as ‘Ajango’, in Oru, on March 30, led to the assassination of the septuagenarian one week after.
Okuneye was a furniture maker of 50 years experience who rose to become the Chairman of Cabinet Makers Association in Ijebu North and later Zonal Chairman, Ijebu Division and Vice -Chairman of the association between 1980 and 1990.
It was learnt that after after his retirement from furniture making, he became a community leader and was made the Chairman of lthe ocal security outfit otherwise known as vigilante in Oke-Sopen where he lived. He was also made the leader of the security group for Ijebu-Igbo after which he was promoted to be the overall Chairman of the vigilante in Ijebu North comprising Ijebu-Igbo, Ago-Iwoye among others.
Sources explained that soon after he became the leader of the vigilante in the area, he focused more on University -Olabisi Onabanjo University, (OOU), Ago Iwoye, where he reportedly led an onslaught on cultists.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that when Amosun became governor three years ago, he held meetings with Okuneye over insecurity in the area.
The development led to ‘Operation submit your guns and be pardoned’ in Ijebu North. The governor gave hoodlums, reportedly equipped with guns by politicians during the 2011 elections, an ultimatum to hand over their guns and be pardoned or refuse and be arrested.
At that period, Ijebu-Igbo had become a haven for criminals to the extent that for close to one year, no bank opened to customers because of incessant attacks.
It was learnt that the governor subsequently made the septuagenarian his informant in the axis.
Further investigation revealed that Ijebu-North had been without a paramount ruler since 26 years ago when the last Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo joined his ancestors. The other first class Obas in different sections of Ijebu were said to have been concerned about security in their domains only.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the vacuum made Ijebu North prone to crime.
Some residents said cultism reduced in the area as a result of the efforts of Okuneye.
According to one of the residents, the vigilante outfit leader successfully flushed cultists out of the area including OOU. He also ‘punished’ landlords that harboured cultists in their houses. Sunday Vanguard, however, learnt that the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the death of one of the leaders of the cult groups in the area in the hands of Okuneye’s vigilante outfit.
“He incured the wrath of the ‘big boys’ in the area following his role in the killing of the notorious guy, Ajango, at Oru about a week before he died.
“Consequent upon Ajango’s death, his boys reportedly began to trail the vigilant outfit’s leader. They made attempt on his life four times. He was said to have been shot at close range on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but he escaped before they got him in church that Sunday”, a source who was close to the deceased told Sunday Vanguard.
It was said that the deceased had metaphysical power, and that it was for this reason that the assailants waited for him to go to church after he would have removed the charms protecting him and their game plan worked out.
An eye witness in the church said Okuneye had taken his seat after reading the Bible lesson before the four gunmen entered and shot him in the head.
According to him, the gunmen were carrying AK 47 rifles and a pistol. He said the one that was carrying a pistol was the one that pulled the trigger. “His blood littered the floor and all of us including our pastor lay face-down while the attack lasted,” he added.
As the operation went on, four other gunmen reportedly stayed outside the church while two were in the two cars that brought them.
The state governor, who visited the scene shortly after the incident, expressed shock over the killing. Amosun assured that government would do its best to get the killers.
‘’The heinous manner the life of a good citizen who had invested in security was terminated is uncalled for,” he stated.
‘’I don’t know why men of the underworld will terminate the life of a man who will not hurt a fly. They even went as far as carrying out the dastardly act in the sacred house of God.
‘’This was a man who did his best on security of lives and property as a way of serving humanity. As a government, we will do our best to ensure that the perpetrators of this act are brought to justice”.
Okuneye is survived by six wives and about 20 children.