The Ekiti State police command has burst a gang of swindlers in Ilawe-Ekiti in Ekiti South-West Local Government Area of the state.
The alleged swindlers, the police said, were found in a remote building located at Igede Road in the town, with the police claiming that the suspects were using the hideout for “419” purposes and sundry crimes.
The Public Relations Officer of Ekiti State police command, Mr. Alberto Adeyemi, told newsmen that “about a week ago, some residents of Ilawe gave our State Investigative Bureau (SIB) department tips that they noticed some strangely big and exotic vehicles coming towards the place and going out after some time.
“They said this strange development raised their suspicion that some ritualists or kidnappers might have erected a hideout in the nearby bush. So, our plain-clothe officers went to investigate and they found the place. It is an unusual building containing very weird objects that are probably used for fetish purposes.”
“Adeyemi added that “Our suspicion about the man is that he is using the place as hideout for kidnappers, ritual killings and 419 business but we are still investigating him. We want to assure members of the public that we would give them best services and they should continue to give us vital information on any strange development in their communities.”
However, the suspect, 35-year-old Adeboye Adegbola, claimed that he was a herbalist, saying he was using the site for his “spiritual activities.”
Adegbola said: “I am a Babalawo and people consult me for spiritual help. All the images you see, which have been described as weird, only represent some gods native to Yoruba land.
“We worship these gods and I have erected them so that people seeking help can identify them and also be convinced and then pay more than what they would have paid ordinarily.”
In another development, the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Ekiti Council of Elders have waded into the feud between the state government and petroleum marketers, with a view to ending the lingering crisis.
The three-week-old industrial crisis has nearly crippled the economy of the state, and the monarch and elders have called on the marketers to save the state’s economy from total collapse.
The elders regretted the open buying and selling of petrol on the streets of Ado Ekiti by black marketers, saying it portended “serious danger.”
The secretary-general of the elders council, Mr Niyi Ajibulu, said the parley with the marketers held at the palace of the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe, on Saturday, was attended by IPMAN members, led by Chief Remi Oguntuase, and three other prominent traditional rulers and many elder statesmen.
Also in attendance were leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Christian and Muslim leaders, market men and women, as well as transport unions in the state.
Ajibulu, who read the communiqué, said they appealed to the two feuding parties to stop muscle-flexing and shift grounds in the overall interest of the populace.
“We observed with regret, the disagreement between the State government and the fuel marketers leading to total shut of all petrol stations in Ekiti. We appeal to the parties to shift grounds because the lingering crisis was stifling the economy and causing serious pains to our people.
“We want them to accelerate the process of reconciliation, so that acceptable terms for quick resolution of the crisis will be reached as soon as possible,” the communique read in part.
Ajibulu said the stakeholders will meet with Governor Fayose to extract commitment from him for peaceful and expeditious resolution process, so that their mediating efforts won’t be futile.
Meanwhile, sources close to the marketers said part of the criteria for peaceful resolution of the impasse, which they said they would table before the mediating groups, would be the rebuilding of the two petrol stations that were damaged by hoodlums.