• Abacha days, dark cloud descending on Nigeria, says Afenifere
• YCE, Gani Adams, HURIWA, NCFront, others kick against invasion
• Army, DSS mute over attack
• Police ban Yoruba nation rally in Lagos tomorrow
• Rally will hold despite attack on Igboho, says Akintoye
• Yoruba One Voice insists on opting out of Nigeria
Ahead of the planned Yoruba self-determination mega rally scheduled to hold in Lagos on Saturday, a group of armed men dressed in military fatigue and DSS outfit in the wee hours of yesterday invaded the Soka residence of the rally convener, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho.
The attack, which was reportedly carried out from around 1:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. claimed two lives while five occupants at the residence were whisked away.
Although none of the occupants of the house was ready to speak, the development has, however, attracted sharp criticisms from various Southwest socio-cultural and political groups such as Afenifere, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), office of Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum and Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO).
In separate reactions to the attack, the Yoruba groups decried the development and called on President Muhammadu Buhari, Inspector General of Police and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to unravel those behind the invasion and killing, and bring them to justice.
At the time The Guardian visited the scene (Igboho’s residence) yesterday, there was till bloodstain on the floor and in the rooms, which confirmed some persons were hit by bullets. The front of the premises was also riddled with bullets just as some vehicles were destroyed.
It was gathered that the assailants arrived around 1:30 a.m. and started shooting sporadically. They scaled the fence and were shooting at everything in sight.
An aide, who did not want his name mentioned, disclosed that though Igboho was indoors when the incident started, “how he escaped remains a surprise to everybody. An insider must have given them information about the house and its occupants.”
According to the aide, “the attackers were asking for each person by name and they killed five and took away their bodies. They also whisked a lady away and wives of Igboho’s aides who live in the house.”
The bewildered aide added that the attackers even killed some pets and carried some away alive believing that Igboho might have through his local charms turned into one of the animals.
Attempts to reach spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig. General Onyema Nwachukwu and spokesman of the Department of State Services (DSS) proved abortive, as the duo did not take their calls.
When contacted, the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer, Adewale Osifeso, said he heard about the incident but had not been appropriately briefed.
MEANWHILE, the Lagos State Police Command has banned any form of the rally in the state, instructing the Yoruba nation agitators against holding the July 3 proposed rally.
Addressing a joint press conference with the Ministry of Information, yesterday, the Commissioner for Police, Hakeem Odumosu, warned that the state government would not allow any form of the rally in the state, as anyone who violates the order will be made to face the law.
Odumosu said the state is yet to recover from the effects of last year’s EndSARS protest, which resulted in the loss of lives and property and as such cannot allow another rally.
He, therefore, warned the organisers and their followers against staging the planned rally and stay clear of Lagos streets as anyone caught participating or facilitating the rally will be dealt with within the ambits of the law.
He also claimed that one Elewe-Omo, a transport union leader in Ibadan, has perfected a plan to attack the organisers to avenge the death of one of his followers during a similar rally held in Ibadan.
While speaking for the state government, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said while the government is not against rallies in a democratic setting, the state “is not ripe for any rally to take place in Lagos. The scars of EndSARS are still visible in Lagos. We advise the organisers to shelve it because the law will take its course.”
In his reaction, Prof Akintoye, on behalf of the umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups, Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO), declared that the mega rally tomorrow still stands. “We want to confirm again that the Pro-Yoruba Nation rally scheduled to hold on Saturday, July 3 in Lagos will proceed as scheduled,” he reiterated.
This is coming as reports say Igboho has suspended the rally following the attack.
Akintoye alleged that the attackers on Igboho’s residence were elements of the Nigerian Army, who were accompanied by international terrorists hired by the Nigerian State to eliminate Ighoho.
The don said Nigerians should hold President Buhari responsible for the action, saying, the attack was cruel, irresponsible, callous and tantamount to a declaration of war against Yoruba people. He, however, said the development will not deter the rally from holding in Lagos tomorrow as scheduled.
Leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, accused the Federal Government of doing everything possible to incite war in the bid to postpone the 2023 elections and extend the tenure of the administration.
Adebanjo, who condemned the attack in totality, said Igboho has not violated any law that could warrant such an attack. He stressed: “When we talk of Fulanisation agenda, people don’t take us seriously but here is evidence. Why would security agents attack someone who is asking for a legitimate cause within the scope of the law?”
In a statement issued on behalf of Adebanjo by the National Publicity Secretary of the body, Comrade Jare Ajayi, he said the attack is a sad indicator that Nigeria is fast returning to the late Sani Abacha era, when anyone, who expressed opinions contrary to the government’s position, would be fatally attacked.
“We recall with sadness how voices that were opposed to the dictatorial tendencies of Abacha regime were under serious attacks. We recall how patriots like General Alani Akinrinade, Pa Abraham Adesanya, Pa Alfred Rewane etc were attacked resulting in the untimely and gruesome murder of Pa Rewane.”
The statement asserted that government security agencies are now becoming emboldened in violating the rights of citizens because previous violations were not checked.
Secretary-General of YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide, said the attack was wrong as the mere announcement of a rally does not violate any law. Olajide, however, disagreed with the insinuation that the attackers were genuine security officers. “They are probably agents of some people who don’t want Igboho to hold the rally in Lagos State tomorrow.”
National President of Yoruba Ronu, Mr. Akin Malaolu, challenged President Buhari and Governor Makinde to unravel those behind the attack. He specifically said Makinde, in whose state the incident happened, should take the first responsibility, saying, “If Igboho had held series of rallies in other Southwest states why is that of Lagos different? Are we sliding back to gangster democracy or we should expect the repeat of the #EndSARS Lekki Toll Gate killings that occurred last year tomorrow?”
In another reaction, Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, said the attack was a ploy to silence Igboho from expressing his views on the state of the nation. In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, he described the attack leading to death and wanton destruction of property as very unfortunate.
“The recent attack was the second in six months. The first was in January when his Soka residence was razed by unknown arsonists. Up to date, nobody had been apprehended in respect of the ugly incident. Igboho is being hunted because of his believe in the struggle for the liberation of Yoruba race and those behind these two attacks should be warned that any attack on Igboho is an attack on all of us that are in the struggle for the liberation of Yoruba race.
“Imagine if Igboho were killed in the attack, it might lead to a raging war. Remember the case of Boko Haram leader, Muhammed Yusuf that was killed in 2009. The death of Yusuf became Nigeria’s nemesis and Boko Haram has created the most challenging problem in the country till date.”
Leaders of Conscience under the auspices of Nigeria Consultative Front (NCFront) jointly led by ex-Speaker of House of Representatives, Ghali Na’aba and Prof. Pat Utomi, has also condemned the attack.
In a statement, NCFront said: “We wish to state unequivocally that the military attack against Sunday Adeyemo and other self-determination activists, at this delicate period of Nigeria, is wrong-headed, reckless and uncalled for as experiences around the world have shown it is capable of foisting unwanted civilian guerilla actions against the Nigerian State given the unprovoked ruthless use of naked force and bestiality to drive unarmed citizens underground.
“So, this abuse of state power shall be taken up by NCFront’s National Secretariat before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in due course. We wish to warn President Buhari to immediately desist from running Nigeria as a police state has allowed the country to slip into a criminal enterprise at the brink of total collapse and civil war.”
YORUBA Diaspora Group, Yoruba One Voice (YOV), has renewed its call for the secession of Oodua Nation out of Nigeria. The global organisation strongly restated its position for the actualisation of Yoruba nation, saying, attempts to restructure Nigeria under President Buhari is just an exercise in futility.
Making the position known at a conference held at the National Press Club, Washington DC yesterday, which was also aired globally via zoom, the group expressed worry at the spate of insecurity across Nigeria.
Chairman of YOV Foreign Affairs Department, and organisers of the conference, Debo Adekoya, said the call for Yoruba nation became imperative as the race could no longer tolerate killer herdsmen in Southwest. He said: “Our people at home are being attacked and killed by Fulani herdsmen. Killer herdsmen run amok in our land daily, with cases of extra-judicial killings already reaching an alarming crescendo.”