The monarch of Igbokoda, in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, Oba Afolabi Odidiomo,narrowly escaped death on Wednesday, as thugs from the communities attacked him with machetes.
Punch correspondent learnt that the traditional ruler sustained several machete cuts on his head. He was said to have been left in a pool of blood by his assailants.
He was reportedly holding a meeting with some high chiefs in the town when the armed men allegedly stormed the meeting and started shooting sporadically in the air to disperse everybody at the meeting. Once people fled, they pounced on the king, dealing him several machete cuts in the head.
A source who was in the town when the incident took place told our correspondent that the monarch’s driver,his aides and some other people who attended the meeting were injured as they fled. The monarch’s vehicle was also destroyed by the hoodlums.
The source said, “The thugs were armed with guns, machetes, knives and sticks. When they entered the venue of the meeting, they dispersed everybody by shooting into the air.
“Their leader led others to where the monarch was and started hitting him with dangerous weapons. They hit him in the head with machetes and cutlasses. They thought he was dead and left him in a pool of blood.
“There was no security agents on the ground to repel the attack. While the incident lasted also, no security man came. The attack took place for almost an hour.”
Punch correspondent learnt after the attack, the men of the Ondo State Police Command arrived at the scene and the monarch was rushed to a hospital at Igbokoda where he was resuscitated. He was later transferred to another hospital.
Speaking on his hospital bed, Oba Odidiomo explained that he had earlier visited the Mahin Kingdom in the council area with two other traditional rulers – Oba Philip Kalejaye and Oba Samuel Edema – to deliberate on a succession plan for the vacant traditional stool of Mahin Kingdom.
He alleged that one of the youths in the town identified as Tale Iwatan led the hoodlums to unleash terror on him, saying the leader of the group had earlier attacked him and his palace on several occasions.
The monarch said, “I came back to Igbokoda in the evening and visited one of the high chiefs of the town to brief him on the development and outcome of the meeting. But I hardly entered the room when Tale Iwatan stormed the meeting with a large number of thugs bearing different arms. They came with cutlasses, knives and guns.
“They shot sporadically in the air to scare away people and I came out to meet about five of them. I immediately called the police in the town, but before the policemen could arrive at the scene, which is only a stone’s throw from the Nigerian Naval base in Igbokoda, the hoodlums had mobilised more men and attacked us.
“Those who attacked us were about 20. They surrounded me after injuring others. One of them stabbed me directly in the back of my head after shooting in the air many times. As if that was not enough, one of them used a cudgel to hit me in the head.
“I think they must have waited for about ten minutes to confirm if I was dead and their leader said I was dead and they all left. They destroyed my car as they left.”
The monarch said it took the policemen in the town 50 minutes before getting into the scene despite making a call for help.
He believed that some “powerful” people were behind the attack. According to him, Iwatan has been shielded from the law despite being arrested for alleged violent activities in the past.
He alleged that a similar attack was carried out by the same gang in 2014, when five people were killed in his palace, adding that all efforts to arrest and prosecute the leader of the gang have been frustrated by some influential people in the area.
While expressing concern over the activities of the gang allegedly led by Iwatan, the traditional ruler appealed to the security agents and the state government to check their violent activities by bringing them to book.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Femi Joseph, confirmed the incident.
He disclosed that two of the hoodlums had been arrested by the command.
Joseph also confirmed that the kingpin of the attack was Tale Iwatan, who according to him was already wanted by the command.
He said, “The incident occurred at about 5pm on Wednesday while Iwatan led some four other notorious thugs in the town to where the monarch was holding a meeting.
“The kingpin has fled and we are after him. The two suspects in our custody are helping us in our investigation.”
He assured that the hoodlums would be brought to book, adding that normalcy had returned to the coastal community of Igbokoda.