From Osun to Oyo states and some other places in the South West, the name, Sunday Igboho, rings a bell. Either as a result of several tales and myths about the 45-year-old man who reportedly commands guns into appearance and is feared for what many see as a lifestyle of brigandage or an encounter with him in real life or through a recent eponymous Yoruba home video, a meeting with Chief Sunday Adeyemo alias Sunday Igboho, is certain to arouse curiosity. In this interview by MOSES ALAO, he speaks on his life, how he came about his name and metaphysical prowess and his decision to contest the governorship seat in Oyo State in 2019.
Whenever and wherever Sunday Igboho is mentioned, what comes to the minds of most people is a picture of brigandage and violence, but you have often maintained that you are a man of peace. Who is Sunday Igboho?
People don’t know a lot of things about me. The thing I detest the most is oppression: whenever I see that anyone is being oppressed or cheated for being on his right, I defend such people. I say it all the time that anyone who can point out that Sunday Igboho killed someone should come out with the facts. Even at the height of the heated politics between the late Chief LamidiAdedibu and former Governor Rashidi Ladoja in Oyo State, I didn’t kill anyone. The only thing I did was to protect Ladoja and shield him from harm whenever he was to be attacked. As hot as the venue of the Akure, Ondo State primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in 2006, I ensured the safety of the former governor. People made moves to buy me over in order to harm Ladoja but I refused. I am a loyal person; I do not betray anyone I am with. Go and ask about me. And let me tell you that it was the Adedibu-Ladoja face-off that made people to shout my name as if they know me. I am a man of peace.
Let me tell you what happened some years back. There was a crisis between some quarters in Igboho and people were shooting, attacking one another. People expected me to go home and join in the fight because Modeke, where I am from, was in the fight. They expected me to support killing but I didn’t do that. I said I am from Igboho and my people could not be fighting one another. I settled the dispute; I called all the stakeholders and told them all to end the crisis. Soldiers could not end that crisis back then, but I did. Many people prayed for me while others felt angry that I didn’t support them. My position then was that those being wasted could become the benefactors of the killers and even the town. So, Sunday Igboho is a man doing the task God sent him. Yes, I am a tough person; some can call me a trouble-maker, but I am not. That is the truth.
But there was Ife-Modakeke crisis where you were said to have played unforgettable roles in the crisis…
That was a different thing entirely. 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. I had been in Modakeke since 1985; that was where I learnt a vocation, got married and gave birth to children. 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? If you hit my car, I tell you to go because if I did anything untoward, people would say I was oppressing such person because of my personality.
Before the Ife-Modakeke crisis, have you been defending the oppressed?
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. Modakeke people didn’t just get to that place; they didn’t get their 100 years earlier and you just told them to leave your land. The land belongs to God and you would recall that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in ending the dispute, said that Ile-Ife is the source of all Yoruba and that all Yoruba people could decide to return to live in Ile-Ife.
But there are the tales about land-grabbing and Omo Onile kind of violence linked to you
I don’t sell lands. I don’t collect what does not belong to me. It is when people have lost their lands to land-grabbers that they run to me to report and I help them to reclaim their lands. I would call those boys to order and ensure the land goes back to the rightful owner.
You were honoured at a point as Akoni Oodua, a position that is despite being honourary, connotes warfare and violence and people in that category often have a lot of disciples. You have described yourself as a man of peace, but people talk of the atrocious things that the boys who follow you do. What do you have to say?
Those who follow me are like my younger brothers and none of them can do anything unlawful. But the problem is most thugs and misguided youths cause trouble in my name. They do bad things and claim to be Sunday Igboho’s boys. I have never seen these people before; whenever they were arrested by the police and they are asked whether they could identify me, they then confess that they had never seen me before. I am a lawful person; I don’t go to where is violence. Even when someone reports land-grabbers, I will tell people to go and call them and I will warn them to release the lands to their rightful owners. I have actually told the police anybody that calls himself my boy and oppresses another person is not close to me; that such person should be arrested and the appropriate justice should be served. I say it everywhere.
Are you saying that all these Omo Onile who attack people on their lands and claim to be from you are unknown to you?
No one close to me would do that. Those who do that don’t know me; they are only using my name to do evil.
Where did you even get the name Sunday Igboho, which people fear and has even overshadowed your real name to date?
It is God that gives a man a name. You are also from Igboho [addressing the interviewer], why don’t people fear your 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. My name is Sunday Adeyemo. I am from Aladikun Compound in Modeke, Igboho but 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 and some people are trying to spoil that name. You know, God’s wrath should visit such person.
If you see anyone who claims to be from me and is acting lawlessly, get the person arrested. I have also told the policemen to do the same. They brought someone like that here recently who was arrested for terrorising people in my name and I had him punished. Some others were arrested by the police and remanded for their crimes. Some of these fools will go somewhere and claim to be from me and they will be demanding N5,000, N10,000. Don’t you see the madness?
Could that mean that a suspect recently arrested for murder in Lagos, Ade Lawyer, who claimed that he used to work for you, is also in that category or…?
That is one issue I won’t like to comment on any longer. I have issued a rejoinder to his lies and it was published in many national dailies, including Tribune and online media. I believe that should settle it. You are here speaking with me in my house and he is in the police net, that should explain the matter.
A Yoruba home video was made in your name and, during the launching, you said you have always been a hard person and that you have prospered by it. How much prosperity has it brought you?
One can only prosper by a name he is known by; everyone knows me as a hard person and God has answered my prayer through that. I don’t steal. I don’t involve in fraud. I don’t engage in Yahoo Yahoo. No one can say Igboho defrauded him or took his wife. The only thing people know me with is that I defend the defenceless through my hard nature. My name will not scare anyone who has not done anything wrong.
Don’t you think the reason the society runs to people like you, OPC members and so on for defence and protection is because the police has not been effective in doing its job?
The problem with Nigerians is that they are scared to approach the police. They wrongly believe that if they approach the police, they will not get justice but that is not so. If you have a strong case and you can show proofs, the police will get justice for you. But most people cannot even prove their cases and they will say the police are not on their sides. Sometimes, when I cannot resolve a land case, I invite the police and the people would be scared, but I would tell them to relax. When eventually they get justice, they would say they didn’t know the police could give justice.
The Nigeria Police is trying its best in securing lives. I have witnessed many situations that made me reach that conclusion. The police are working hard, but there are a lot of stubborn people in Nigeria. In the United States, Germany and all these developed countries that I visit, when the people hear of the police, they cooperate with them. The residents would often call the attention of the police to a slight disturbance. But in Nigeria, we even hide criminals from the police. The police are trying, but we do not know their worth.
You said you want to become the governor of Oyo State…
(Cuts in)… I have a right to, because I am an indigene of Oyo State. I have a right to anything.
Which party platform are you planning to use?
When the time comes, I will tell you.
It remains about five months to party primaries…
Wait for the five months to come.
But it sounded strange when you announced that intention because you have never toed that line before…
Why should it sound strange? I am from Oyo State; see my tribal marks. I am from Igboho in Oke-Ogun area of the state, so I am not overstepping any boundary by declaring the intent to contest the governorship election. I am not in Osun or Ogun states; I am asking to be governor in my state. I am the one who will spend the money and I own my mouth with which I declared. I can even declare my intention to run for president, because I am a Nigerian. When the time comes, I can decide to contest and the people will have a right to accept or reject me. Is that not democracy? You can also decide to contest tomorrow and if the people don’t want you, you will go and sit in your house. I have the right to declare, but it is not yet time to declare the party.
And talking about toeing a line before, did the US president, Donald Trump, contest for any election prior to his election as the president of the most powerful nation in the world? Former President Barack Obama of African descent decided to be US president and he achieved it. And coming down to Oyo State, Olatoye Sugar [a lawmaker in Oyo State] contested a House of Assembly seat and won. He became a member of the House of Representatives and now he said he wants to become governor, why don’t you stop him?
Is anyone trying to stop you from contesting?
No one can do that. But I am also asking you if I don’t have a right to contest. If you journalists know I have a right, you should pray for me to succeed and not be saying it sounded strange. I made the declaration that when the time comes I would contest and that is how it will be, because I have a right under the constitution to aspire. God is happy with my ambition and the law backs it. So I am claiming my right.
Politicians often take or buy titles whenever they eye an office. Was your governorship ambition the reason artisans in Oyo State installed you as Babalaje?
No. The artisans saw that I was fit for the title and that was why I was installed. I didn’t buy or beg for it; they brought the letter to inform me that I would be installed as the Babalaje of Oyo State and I accepted. There are many people that could have been offered that position, but the fact that I was offered the title showed that God has decided it. It has nothing to do with politics. I didn’t offer them money or beg for the title.
Are you in the race because of the clamour that Oke-Ogun should produce the next governor of the state?
Am I not from Oyo State? I lived in Osun State for 30 years, married and built many houses and no one disturbed me. Is it now in Oyo, which is my home state, that anyone will be saying I can’t aspire to be in any post? I am qualified and I have every right to become anything in Oyo State. It is not about where I am from. But you have also asked a vital question, ‘should Oke-Ogun also produce the governor of Oyo State after all these years?’ Let me tell you, going by Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s description as Koseleri, he can give that governorship ticket to Oke-Ogun. If he wants to do it, he can and if he does that, he would have broken another jinx. He will always be remembered.
Right now, there are many people from Oke-Ogun in the race and they all qualified. For instance, Mr Remi Olaniyan, an engineer and former permanent secretary in the state, who is my uncle, is in the race to become governor. If he is given the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket, of course, I will support him.
You mean you will drop your ambition to be governor?
Of course, I already have my ticket in my pocket. But if Olaniyan is given the APC ticket, I will keep my own ticket.
You said you are always loyal to Ladoja, so what if he comes out to contest?
He won’t. In fact, let me tell you, if Governor Ajimobi gives Olaniyan the ticket, I will wear a big agbada and go to the governor with many people to say thank you to him. In fact, we will go with drums. That means it is Igboho’s turn to be governor; it is as good as I am the governor. I cannot follow anyone else if Olaniyan gets the ticket. The entire Igboho and Oke-Ogun will appreciate it. God can do anything. If Olaniyan is given the ticket, I will drop mine; because it is already in my pocket.
Which party’s ticket?
I have not disclosed the party, but it is a governorship ticket. It is in my pocket. In fact, if Olaniyan does not get the APC ticket and it goes to another person from Oke-Ogun, I will support the person. And I can assure you that we will win.
Going by your title as Akoni Oodua and popularity, have you been approached by Yoruba elders on the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the region?
We have heard of killings in Benue, Kogi and some other states, but that is not enough reason to take up arms in the South West.
There are many myths about Sunday Igboho, but the most popular is that you have so much metaphysical powers that you can command a gun to appear from nowhere. Don’t you think this can scare people away from you?
Anyone that is scared is not a true Yoruba. We are all Yoruba.
Is it true that you can command a gun?
It is a divine secret from God; I inherited the powers from my fathers.
How come you are now called Sunday, which signifies Christianity?
I am a Christian; an original one. I was christened by the church in Igboho when I was born. At least, that was what I was told, because I was not there. And while growing up, I met my father going to church. But he was a herbalist and one can inherit the 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. Tell me any prophet in the Bible who did not defend himself. It was only Jesus Christ that was patient and meek to the point of replacing a severed ear of an enemy. Moses was a warrior; he was an actor. I am an actor too. Joshua was a warrior; Samson fought battles; David did too. The Israelites fought wars; they defended themselves. So, when an enemy wants to bring a fight, I can defend myself using tradition powers and God will not be vexed. He created the herbs and roots; He said everything is perfect and made human beings rulers over them all. So, if God made me a ruler over something, why shouldn’t I control it? If I cannot do that, it means I do not know what God has sent me to do. But of course, it is not everyone that knows what God sent him to do. The Bible also confirms this when it said many are called, few are chosen.