Many Nigerians and major groups in the Southwest region of the country have reacted to the admittance by the State Security Service (SSS) that its operatives invaded the home of a leader of a group clamouring for a Yoruba nation, Sunday Adeyemo (also known as Sunday Igboho), in a bid to effect his arrest.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Igboho’s house, located in Soka, Ibadan, capital of Oyo State was invaded around 1:00 a.m. on Thursday.
His vehicles, including his G-wagon, Prado Jeep, and some valuable properties including furniture, and windows were reportedly destroyed.
The attack occurred barely 72 hours before the planned rally in Lagos by Mr Igboho and others to further canvas a Yoruba nation.
The spokesperson of SSS, Peter Afunaya, who confirmed the raid in a press conference in Abuja said a total of seven AK 47 rifles were recovered, alongside pump action guns and 5,000 rounds of ammunition including other weapons.
He said security operatives recovered the weapons after a “hot gun duel between them and Igboho’s guards”.
The SSS also admitted that two of Igboho’s men were killed in the process while a security agent was shot on the right hand and is currently responding to treatment.
This development has, however, triggered reactions from major groups and individuals in the Southwest. A Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, said the invasion of Mr Igboho’s house “is a sad indicator that we are fast returning to the era of the late Sani Abacha when anyone who expressed opinions contrary to the government’s position would be fatally attacked.”
The group, in a statement by its spokesperson, Jare Ajayi, said it found no wrong in canvassing for self-determination so long as such agitation is devoid of violence.
“The constitution the country is running guarantees the right of every Nigerian to express an opinion and even carry out rallies as long as such is done without violence. To the best of our knowledge, none of the rallies that Sunday Igboho has led in his campaign for the Yoruba nation could be said to be violent nor was he implicated in illegal activities. Why then should he be subjected to the kind of treatment his household received on Thursday morning?”
Another body of Yoruba self-determination groups, Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO), in a statement by its leader, Banji Akintoye, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has “declared war against the peace-loving people of Yoruba Land.
“We have been peaceful from the inception of this struggle. We have adhered with both the Nigerian and International Laws guiding the agitation for Self-Determination. All our agitations have been peaceful, orderly, and lawfully executed. We have commended the officers of the Nigerian Police many times for being professional in their modus of operations in relating to our protests and rallies for Self-Determination in Yoruba cities.
“Therefore, I say on behalf of the Yoruba people that this attack on Chief Ighoho’s house was unnecessary, unfortunate, wicked, callous, cruel, irresponsible, illegal, and atrocious. We are holding the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration responsible for this barbaric attack. This is a declaration of war against peace-loving people.”
Mr Akintoye said that despite the warning by the police in Lagos, the Yoruba nation rally would hold on Saturday.
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) also condemned the invasion and described it as callous, barbaric, and worrisome.
The leader of the group, Wale Oshun, said: “We condemn it in a very strong term. There is no record that Igboho was invited by the police to report. The use of the military for (a) purely civil issue is bound to escalate tension.
“Government and security services should recall how Boko Haram started. It started, following the unlawful killing of their leader, who was under arrest by the police. He did not resist arrest. But, he was killed. It is improper to invade the house of Igboho.
“Police should have gone to his house with a warrant. That was what was done under the military. The military are meant to protect the territorial integrity, and not to meddle in civil affairs. Their work is to fight terrorism and demonstrate effectiveness in restoring security. Even, during the military rule, under Gen. Sani Abacha, the military were not directly involved in civil matters. It was the police and SSS that were arresting people, not soldiers. This should end.”
On its part, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) leader, Gani Adams, said “killing Igboho could lead to another bloodbath and war akin to the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast.
“The attack on Sunday Igboho’s house is most unfortunate. It is a reflection of the fact that our lives as Nigerians are of no value to the government. And the truth is that nobody is safe in this country.”
Former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, said Mr Igboho is being trailed for protecting his people in the South-west.
“He has also shown the greatest respect to all the Yoruba elders, traditional rulers and leaders and has refused to allow his supporters to terrorise and attack non-Yorubas. The only enemies he and the Yoruba people have are the foreign Fulani terrorists that are in our forests and that are kidnapping and killing our people.
“And whether Sunday is alive or dead, those terrorists will still be our enemies and we shall still resist them in our land with all our might. I consider all this and I ask myself whether all those that said we were wasting our time building bridges were right. Despite all, I do not believe they were right and I still believe we must tread that path. These efforts at establishing peace and unity will and must continue because we have no other choice. War is not an option for the Nigerian people and we must NEVER be pushed into it,” he wrote in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
“If he is wanted by the security agents all they need to do is to invite him. They do not need to raid his home in the middle of the night, kill his people, steal his things, terrorise his supporters and attempt to kill him. They do not need to invoke the wrath of the Yoruba nation and attempt to manage the consequences of such a reckless and unpredictable course.”
PREMIUM TIMES interviewed some citizens who expressed missed feelings over the invasion of Mr Igboho’s residence.
A taxi driver in Ibadan, Rotimi Olayemi, said the Yoruba nation agitator is a necessary evil in Nigeria.
“I cannot support Sunday Igboho but I see him as contributing his part to secure his region. The federal and state governments have failed in their responsibilities of ensuring safety of lives and properties. The failure of those in power created the vacuum that people like Sunday are trying to fill. It is a bad thing to have people like him amidst citizens. Imagine the weapons in his house. That’s barbaric.
“Now that he has been declared wanted, the government must be willing to secure lives of citizens. Let them declare leaders of bandits wanted too, so that we can have peaceful country.”
Suliat Lawani, a social commentator, urged the government to hold round table discussions with citizens considered to be aggrieved with the country.
“The truth is that some people are aggrieved with authorities. Rather than going hard on them, it is better they call them for a round table discussion, retrieve their weapons, and agree to work for the progress of the nation. Igboho’s death will be another war in Nigeria.”
A lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Kehinde Ayoola said “Sunday is too naive to confront Federal Government. He has apparently been watching too much African magic movies. Why didn’t they go ahead with their planned Saturday rally? The two testes of the Nigerian economy are in the Niger Delta and Lagos.
“Just as no man would allow its scrotum to secede, Nigeria will certainly not allow Yorubas to go away with Lagos. When it comes to violence, Yorubas are no match for the Fulanis. Why embark on ethnic suicide over nothing! Is it not the Yorubas that put Buhari there in 2015? If they play their cards right, will the North not cede power to them in 2023?”
Yoruba nation agitations
Mr Igboho has led rallies in Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, and Ogun states. He threatened to hold the rally in Lagos on July 3 but his home was invaded barely 72 hours to the planned date.
He has in the past also called for the eviction of Fulanis in South-west states, an action that was condemned by federal and state authorities.
Yoruba Nation agitation is a political ideology to realise the independence and sovereign country for the Yoruba race in Nigeria but many political leaders in the region have rejected and kicked against the idea.
Former Governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, alongside Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, Bisi Akande, and all leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-West, in a meeting in Lagos last month, opposed the agitation.
They called for ethnic and religious unity instead of a divided nation.
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