By Richard Elesho/ Lokoja
His character defies simple definition. To many, he is a bully. Others call him a thug and a barefaced criminal who deserve a prime place behind the bars. Yet, some see him as a heroic, kindhearted, mighty man of valour. But, whenever he appears before the mirror, he sees a human rights activist, crusading for justice and a better society.
Chief Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho came to current reckoning for his ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen over the murder of Dr. Fatai Aborode and other unresolved killings. Aborode, a politician and Chief Executive of Kunfayakun Green Treasures was murdered by suspected herdsmen on his farm along Apodun road Igangan, on Friday 11th December, 2020. His Manager narrowly escaped in the attack.
Aborode’s fate, was one murder too many. Several people in the area had been subjected to untimely death by the criminal pastoralists. The helpless villagers therefore cried to Igboho, who hails from the area to come to their rescue. The choice of Igboho was informed by his assumed esoteric metaphysical prowess.
He heeded the call. On Friday, 15 January, Igboho visited Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadri, the Seriki Fulani to dialogue on the issue. The discussions went awry. He then ordered the herders to vacate Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government Area, LGA of Oyo state within seven days or be ejected.
Incidentally, about the time Igboho was issuing the threat, the Governor of nearby Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu was dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s of a similar order over insecurity in his State. On Monday, 18 December, the Governor also ordered Herdsmen to come out of the forest reserves within seven days for registration.
True to his promise to return on expiry of the ultimatum, Igboho went back to Igangan for a town hall consultation. After the visit, mayhem was let lose on the Seriki Hausa and his associates. Friday, 22 January arsonists set fire on his palace. The tongue of flames reportedly leaked 11 exotic automobiles including Camry, Range Rover, Venza and houses. Seriki and his team took to their heels. They raised alarm from a distance.
Those who should know say the threats should not be treated with kid gloves. Engr. Seyi Makinde, the Oyo State Governor, warned Igboho not to take laws into his hands. He also arranged for on-the-spot assessment to the troubled area.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammodu Buhari who had earlier called for caution on the threats noted that Mohamed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP had ordered the arrest of Igboho. Ngozi Onadeko, a Commissioner of Police newly deployed to the state has the unenviable duty as a litmus test.
Similarly, the action momentarily highlighted the country’s fault lines and raised the decibels of her ever beating war drums. The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, the pan- Yoruba group, Afenifere, Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Ohaneze N’digbo, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Human Rights Writers Association, HURWA and Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore added differing perspectives to the crisis.
The making of Sunday Igboho:
Indeed, Igboho is a formidable man. Whenever he sneezes, his detractors catch cold. He was born on Tuesday, October 10, 1972 in Aladikun Compound at Modeke Igboho, Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State as Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo to Christian parents. His father relocated to Osun State for greener pastures, when he was still young.
He had a humble beginning and can be described as a self made man. In 1985 he moved to join father at Modakeke. In fact, the boy started out as a hustler learning how to repair motorcycles in the town.
After his harrowing years of aparenticeship, Sunday established his own mechanic workshop in Modakeke. This was the place he grew up and loved as home. This was where he married and started raising children
In this ancient Yoruba settlement, he devoted his energy to his career as a ‘Repairer.’ He also retained commendable interests in clairvoyance and traditional practices, being the profession of his father. Over time, he successfully deviated into selling of vehicles. His automat is Adeson International Business Concepts Limited.
Change of name:
Sunday’s change of name came early and it was not fortuitous. Among the Yoruba, people were found of associating a new settler with his place of birth. Thus, the Modakeke people knew and addressed his father as Baba Igboho. They also referred to his son as Sunday Omo Baba Igboho i.e Sunday, the son of the old man from Igboho.
Hear him tell the story. “When I lived in Modakeke, people used to call me Sunday Omo Baba Igboho [Sunday, son of Igboho man]. But people continued to call me Sunday Igboho and it stuck.
He had earlier explained, “It is God that gives a man a name. I am not the only one from Igboho, but God has decided that I am the only one who can use the name to make a living.
Ife,/ Modakeke war
The Ife/ Modakeke war of the late nineties marked a decisive turning point in his career and became his ‘destiny changer’ in a way. When the crisis evolved into a full scale war, members of the groups rose in stern defence of their positions. Sunday, whose father’s house was raized, applied himself totally into the war.
It war during the crisis that his enormous magical nay mythical aspects came to the fore. For instance it is believed that it was at this time he acquired the art of commanding guns to appear out of nothing. Soon, the fear of Igboho became the beginning of wisdom for the enemy. But, he defended his role in the war.
“I had to rise in defence of my home. Our house was burnt down during that crisis. So, should I have folded my arms while my father’s house was burnt and lose everything? People just shout Sunday Igboho, Sunday Igboho — Who can say he saw me in a public fight? Who can say he has seen me cheat or oppress people?
According to him, it was the war that horned his human right instincts and created in him a gluttony for justice.
“It was when the crisis occurred and I saw that Modakeke was about to be oppressed that I took up the task. I decided then that if God could give me success in fighting against the oppression of Modakeke, there was nowhere someone would be cheated around me and I won’t rise in the person’s defence.
Igboho’s incursion into political activism started after his baptism of fire in the Ife/ Modakeke crisis. Not long after, peace was restored in the area, the activist relocated to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. His business became more prosperous in the city and became popular on its social circles.
However, much as he preferred a quiet way of life, his unrelenting activism soon advertised him in the city. One day at the peak of a season of fuel shortage, he was at a filling station where he had spent several hours on queue. Suddenly a long convoy of vehicles belonging to Lam Adeshina, then Governor of the State, came in for instant refueling.
Igboho would not stomach such injustice and he resisted it, insisting the Governor must join the long queue. A scene was created.
The Governor sent for him to know what the problem was. Igboho confronted him on how his desire to jump the queue amounted to injustice and cautioned against it. Adeshina was said to have been impressed by his courage to tell truth to power. Of course, the news spread quickly and Igboho’s reputation soared.
The tough man’s activities got more noticed in political circles in the State. With time, former Governor Rashidi Ladoja gave him an appointment, in which capacity he became one of the Governor’s most trusted aides. During the latter’s face-off with the strongman of Ibadan politics, Late Lamidi Adedibu, the activist remained a strong pillar of support behind the Governor.
Igboho has joined politics for good. His ambition to contest the 2019 Oyo State Governorship election died at incubation. But, he said he has the right and what it takes to contest for any political office, including the Presidency.
Social life and net worth
A man of an average height and of no particularly intimidating physique, his thick facial marks, gesticulations and vocal mannerism give him up as a Yoruba. He is well versed in the use of proverbs and parables to drive home a point.
Igboho is a grassroots man who connects seamlessly with all classes. Ordinarily affable and humorous, the activist says he is always sympathetic to a good course. But he is also quick to deploy his fist.
His mastery of paradox also plays out in his spirituality and religion. Igboho has a Christian background. In fact, he is very familiar with Bible characters and draws from them in his daily conversations. “I am a Christian; an original one. I was christened by the church in Igboho when I was born.”
He claimed that being a herbalist did not disturb his father’s Christianity and will not disturb his own. He noted that one can inherit ritual or herbal powers.”Does it disturb my going to church? I can use the powers to defend myself; inasmuch as I do not perpetrate wickedness with it. I can wear amulets to church; will the pastor know? It will be under my cloth. God didn’t say we should not defend ourselves.
Igboho is widely travelled and married with children. His two wives are in Europe. Three of his children are said to be professional footballers in Germany. Igboho has prospered by his hard ways. His networth is put at about Ten Million Dollars in 2020. “The fact is that I am a rich man. I am not seeking favour from government because I’m a contented person. I don’t need money or favour from government.
Igboho has a home video shot produced in his honour. He is the Akooni Oodua and Babalaje of Oyo among other chieftaincy titles. He is a strong advocate of Oodua Republic and self determination.
Hero or villain? The choice is yours to make.