As the search for the escaped prime suspect in the serial killings in Akinyele Council of Oyo State, Sunday Shodipe, continues, monarchs in the area have gone spiritual and indeed dispatched local hunters to fish him out.

The 19-year-old Shodipe, who was paraded by the Oyo State Police Command last month, escaped from the Mokola Police State, where he was remanded, last week.

Various efforts are being made to re-arrest him, including the dispatch of crack detectives to the state by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), a marching order by Governor Seyi Makinde and a N500, 000 bounty for his arrest, among others.

Speaking with newsmen in their palaces, yesterday, two traditional rulers in the council, the Oniroko of Iroko, Oba Olasunkanmi Abioye, and Alakinyele of Akinyele, Oba James Odeniran, said they were going spiritual to fish out the suspect from wherever he was hiding.

The monarchs disclosed that they had dispatched hunters, members of Soludero Hunters of Nigeria, members of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Agbekoya to fish him out, vowing that there is no escape route for the infamous escapee.

The Oba Abioye said: “We are going to make some sacrifices. We believe that after the sacrifices, we will fish him out. With the power of God, he will use his legs to come out. God will accept the sacrifices and make it possible for us to fish him.

“Our hunters are scattered all over, searching for him. They are working assiduously now. We believe that if he has certain powers, sacrifices will destroy those powers.

“I felt embarrassed, because we didn’t expect that the Oyo State Police Command can do such thing to the public, because we depended on them seriously. The commissioner of Police and his officers are working hard with our hunters to get this boy.

“So, when I heard that he escaped from the cell, it was very embarrassing to the traditional council in Ibadan land. We are not happy with it.

“I want to appeal to our governor not to take this with lightly. He should come up with a strong decision with the federal government and Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.

“He committed the first offence in Akinyele town, but he doesn’t stay there. He started committing the offence in Akinyele town before he went round the local government.”

On his part, Oba Odeniran added: “We are doing everything possible to fish him out. Our local hunters, Agbekoya, Soluderu and OPC are out there searching for him. We are also going traditional and performing some sacrifices to ensure we fish him out.”

He expressed bemused on how Shodipe easily escaped, saying: “Really, I could not believe it; it came as a surprise to me. When the last person was killed, Funmilayo Oladeji, also called Mama Toyin, people were condoling me.

“It was around that time that Barakat’s father came to me, saying his brother sighted the serial killer (Shodipe) that killed his daughter somewhere around Elewure here in Akinyele town. I thought it could not be true, believing there was no way he could have escaped.

“At that point, I sent two of my palace boys to go and confirm if truly he was sighted at Elewure. But alas, when they came back, they confirmed that he even drank tea at Elewure.

“As soon as he left Elewure, he passed through the road that leads to the house of the woman that was killed. People said he was the one that killed the last woman, but they were confused as to whether he was actually the one or not, because the Police had not declared him wanted. Some even challenged him, asking if he was the one that committed those acts and he answered in affirmative.

“By that time, the problem became who would bell the cat. And nobody came to tell me; I heard about it latter, if I were told, I would have ordered my hunters to get him arrested. What I did was that I gathered all the hunters, OPC and other people connected with security to search for him. They were there, but they could not find him.”

Meanwhile, 48-year-old Kazeem Bello, father of 18-year-old Barakat Bello, a student of the Federal College of Animal Science and Agriculture, Ibadan, lamented that his daughter was not allowed to fulfill her dream.

While decrying Shodipe’s escape, Bello said the killing of Barakat remained an indelible and tears drop from his and her mother’s eyes each time they remember her.

“I was in my house when one of my family members told me that they saw Shodipe at Akinyele. I was even arguing that he could not be real. I went out to ask some elderly people around the area and they confirmed that they saw him.

“I went to tell the Alakinyele that the boy that killed my daughter was seen at Elewure. The monarch and the head of vigilantes, who was with him, did not believe it. Then the royal father sent two people to find out from where I got to know about it and also called another person if they actually saw him. They confirmed that he was the one.

“They did not allow my daughter to realise her ambition. There is nothing to complain about; only God understands this. What has spoilt has spoilt. It is a wound that brings out tears. The role she was playing at home is void now. During the last festive period, we cried because she was not with us.

“For instance, if we were going somewhere, we would ask her to do something and she would do it. Now, there is nobody to do that again. We are now the ones doing it by ourselves and would cry while doing it.”

Meanwhile, the husband of the 42-year-old Mrs. Olusayo Fagbemi, who was slain on June 24 at Ajibade Street, Sasa in Ojoo, Mr. Dauda Fagbemi, has alleged conspiracy in the escape of Shodipe.

According to 61-year-old Dauda, his wife and mother of three was nursing a one-year-old girl before she was killed. The first child is seven, while the last is one.

Fagbemi said: “I felt bad when I learnt that the prime suspect had escaped. How can a suspect escape from Police custody? When I received the news of his arrest, I felt better, but that cannot bring back my wife. I just leave anything to God.

“I will be happy if justice can be served. They released the boy; I think they have collected money. With the boy, they arrested some people and they have released those arrested with him. I leave it to God because after they released those people, they killed one woman at Akinyele recently. I know God will judge.”

He believed Shodipe’s account of being sent by a herbalist, saying that is their babalawo, the one sending those people to commit the crime.

It was gathered that Shodipe did not have a permanent abode in the past two years and his friends and family members deserted him when he started exhibited waywardness.

The people in the area heaved a sigh of relieve when he was arrested, as they went into wild jubilation, believing he had met his waterloo when he was paraded by the Police.

But their hope of having a secure community was short-lived, as Shodipe escaped from the Police custody, forcing many to run away from the community.

It all started with Barakat on June 1, this year. When news of the incident broke, it was thought to be one of those rape cases; hence there was insouciance. Strangely, that was not to be, as the killings soon became a pattern in quick succession.

The murder of a 29-old-year Azeezat Somuyiwa at Ijefun area on June 4 aroused the curiosity of Nigerians that the killings might have a more sinister undertone than happenstance.

On June 13, the brutal murder of Grace Oshiagwu happened at Idi-Ori area. As if that was not cruel enough, the world woke up to the painful news of the extermination of five-year-old Mujeeb Tirimisiyu at Olorunsogo Phase II, Tose area in Moniya on June 22.

While the state was still mourning Mujeed, excruciatingly, on June 24, Mrs. Fagbemi was mowed down at Sasa area.

The ritual killing binge climaxed with the dispatch of Mrs. Dolapo Bamidele and her mother, Adeola, at Alaja area of the council to their early graves on June 29.

Though Shodipe had been in Police custody, unknown killers snuffed life out of Mrs. Grace Omotoke of Onikoro area in Moniya, the council headquarters, on July 20.
Nevertheless, there was a sigh of relief in the troubled council when the Oyo State Police Command, on July 17, paraded some suspects in connection with the serial killings.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nwachukwu Enwonwu, at the occasion, said Shodipe, the main suspect, was nabbed after one Usman Shehu was arrested in connection with the crime and the Techno mobile phone belonging to Azeezat was recovered from him.

Also, paraded were one herbalist, Yunusa Adedokun, 50, who allegedly sent Shodipe to carry out the dastardly and despicable operations, and one Shehu, 20, who bought a phone stolen by Shodipe.

The Police chief told journalists that Shehu, on interrogation, denied involvement in the crime, but gave useful information that subsequently led to the arrest of Shodipe, adding that the suspect said he was sent to carry out the nefarious activities by Yunusa Adedokun, a herbalist, who was to fortify him with ‘native insurance’ before each operation.

Shodipe confirmed: “The herbalist would ask me to kneel down and close my eyes and put a fetish substance in my mouth. He would recite incantation before he would ask me to open my eyes and I would proceed on the operation. He would always warn me that if I opened my eyes when asked to close them, I would be blind immediately.

“He always told me to immediately after each killing say, ‘hah’ three times, go round each of the victims three times and thereafter stand at the scene for about five minutes, backing the victim.

“On many occasions, I would be at the scene when people are sympathising over the victims. They would not see me and after the five minutes, I would leave the scene.

“I could not complete the ritual during my last operation before some night guards made attempt to arrest me. Two night guards, who initially came to rescue the woman and her daughter, did not see me and I was there, standing.

“As the night guards were leaving, one of them looked back suddenly and flashed his torchlight at me. I took to my heels, though I had not recited what the herbalist instructed me to say. I had not stood there backing the victims for five minutes.

“I don’t use any clothes to wipe the blood of my victims. Baba (the herbalist) has been the one sending me to kill people, but he did not tell me the particular thing he has been using the killings for.

Whenever I went out for killings, Baba would have prepared amala for me before I returned, and after eating, he would give me N500. At times, he would buy rice for me and after eating, he would give me N500.

“But I have not been removing any part of my victim’s body. I have not also been having sexual intercourse with my victims. It was the Isinku Orun that has been having sexual intercourse with them, as Baba told me.”

When asked how he know that those he killed were alone, he explained: “I would not know, but when I knelt down before Baba and closed my eyes, anywhere I went, I would meet only one person there. I have been using shovel to kill them. I used to walk to the places where I had carried out operations.”

However, the herbalist said he did not send Shodipe to kill anybody, adding: “His mother brought him to me, so that I could help treat the sickness afflicting him. His mother told me that he did not complete his apprenticeship in carpentry and that he was not staying at home, like a vagabond. I did a charm for them (Ose eyonu) and they left.

“After two months, his mother and her elder sibling brought him again to my place to learn how to become herbalist like myself. But I don’t know about what he has been doing on killing people.

“He only spent six days with me when he came to learn about herbal medicine. He left my place in August 2016 and I did not set my eyes on him again until the Police came to arrest me on July 5.”

With the arrest of the prime suspect, Nigerians, especially residents of Oyo State were expecting that justice would be served and the killings would abate. However, it was a melodrama that got to its crescendo on Friday, August 14, when news broke that the youth in Akinyele Council were on rampage, protesting Shodipe’s escape and the killing of yet another person in the council, barely one month after he was paraded along with other suspects.

Residents of Ori-Oke Olurunkole woke up that day to the reality that a middle-aged woman, simply identified as Olufunmilayo, was hacked to death by the escaped ritual killer on Thursday, August 13. The victim was said to have been injured with a machete at four different parts and died later in the night.

The protesters argued that nobody in the area was safe any longer, alleging that the Police might have collected bribe from the powers-that-be to free Shodipe without taking him to court and this had shown that some very powerful people must have been supporting the ritual killings.