Why Sunday Igboho Defended Modakeke During Ife-Modakeke War in 1997

Sunday Igboho
Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo (Sunday Igboho)

WHO IS SUNDAY IGBOHO?

Sunday Igboho, as popularly known, was born Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo on the 10th of October, 1972 in Igboho, a town in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State. He is a politician, businessman and an influential grassroots mobiliser. He trended on the internet in January 2021 when he gave a week ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen in Ibarapa to vacate the land after the killing of Dr. Aborode.

 

BACKGROUND OF THE IFE-MODAKEKE WAR

The Ife-Modakeke war/conflict, spanning across the 19th, 20th and 21st, is the oldest intra-ethnic conflict in Yorubaland and the whole of Nigeria. The indigenes of Ife and Modakeke belong to the Yoruba ethnic group; the sociocultural and political systems of the two communities are similar and their geographical distribution largely overlaps yet they have engaged in a protracted conflict for more than a century.

The Modakeke people are generally considered strangers, tenants, and migrants in Ile-Ife. The history of Modakeke has it that they migrated and settled in Ife after the collapse of the Old Oyo empire in the 19th century.

Two distinct groups of people were thus created: the original settlers and landlords (Ife) and the migrants/tenants/refugees (Modakeke). These categorizations form the remote causes of the conflicts between the two groups. There had been seven major wars between the Ife and Modakeke, that is 1835-1849, 1882-1909, 1946-1949, 1981, 1983, 1997-1998, and 2000.

SUNDAY IGBOHO’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE IFE-MODAKEKE WAR OF 1997-1998

Fast forward to 1997, another war broke out between the two communities which left many people missing and dead. The conflict which lasted till 1998 is one out of many series of conflicts that plagued both communities. As at then, Sunday Igboho was living in Modakeke. In an interview with Nigerian Tribune, he said, “I had been in Modakeke since 1985; that was where I learnt a vocation, got married and gave birth to children.”

It was during this conflict that people got to know Sunday Igboho, prior to then, he was a mechanic who specialized in repairing motorcycles. When asked about his role in the Ife-Modakeke crises, Sunday Igboho said, “that was where people got to know me and I do not believe that should be counted against me at all. If anyone says because I said I have not killed before and they refer to Ife-Modakeke crisis, it will be unfair because that was a war.”

“A person that wanted to kill me and razed my property is bent on killing me, so if one killed while defending himself, I don’t think it is a crime. May God forgive us, but it will be unfair for anyone to judge me based on a story they do not know the full details.”

“I lived in Modakeke and the Ile-Ife people said they wanted to send Modakeke people packing from their lands. That was where these people have lived all their lives. How can you suddenly rise to send them away? That was where my father lived and built a house; that was where I lived. So, 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?”

After the conflict ended in 1998, another one broke out in 2000 which left over 10 people dead and 50 people missing within three days. The killings continued until when the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, set up a committee, led by Olabode George, to look into the intra-communal crisis.

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References:

  1. Elugbaju, Ayowole. (2018). Ife-Modakeke Crisis (1849-2000): Re-thinking the conflict and methods of resolution. Journal of Science, Humanities and Arts – JOSHA. 5. 10.17160/josha.5.8.483.
  2. Akanle, Olayinka. (2009). Ife–Modakeke conflict. The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest: 1500 to the Present.. 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00742.x.
  3. Nigerian Tribune (2018, March 24). 2019: I inherited powers to command guns from my father —Sunday Igboho. Tribune Online.