Adams says unlike Boko Haram, OPC is not faceless.
The group made this known while reacting to statement credited to some northern leaders calling for the ban of OPC and some other groups.
“It has come to (our attention) that some prominent people from the Northern part of the country who are not happy with the determination of the Federal Government to put a stop to the wanton killings in the North have decided to cast aspersions on the OPC by equating it with the Boko Haram sect. We have decided to remain neutral and maintain our peace since the orgy of killings started. But we have taken note of statements credited to some prominent Northern leaders, especially since the crack down on the Boko Haram sect,” the National Coordinator of OPC, Gani Adam, said.
While justifying his group’s existence, Mr. Adams explained that OPC is not a faceless group like Boko Haram, adding that the addresses of leaders and members are known all over the country. He added that the organisation is known worldwide for working positively towards a genuine cause.
He expressed disappointment in the former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abubakar Tsav, who he fingered as the arrowhead of the call for the ban on OPC. According to Mr. Adams, Mr. Tsav, while condemning the Federal Government’s all-out attack on Boko Haram, wondered why the president failed to ban other groups including the OPC because the groups are involved in acts of terrorism.
“We state here as a matter of fact that the OPC is a visible organisation, with known addresses all over the country. Its leaders are also known and accessible to all Nigerians, including security agencies. We draw our strength from our membership of more than seven million. It is also on record that we don’t engage in clandestine activities, since our activities are known to all and recorded for history by the vibrant and courageous Nigerian media and therefore is in no way a security threat to the country,” Mr Adams countered.
Mr. Adams also pointed out that in 2002 and 2005, some leaders of the OPC including himself and Fredrick Fasehun were arrested for unlawful association and organisation; but were acquitted of the charges by separate courts.
“The first was time was at the Federal High Court, Lagos, where Justice Dan Abutu struck out the matter and discharged and acquitted us of all the charges. The second case was at the State High Court, Abeokuta, Ogun State, where Justice Charles Oluremi Jacobs (OFR) also struck out the case, discharged and acquitted us. The government still took us before Justice Sybil Nwaka of the Lagos High Court. The honourable justice also struck out the case, discharged and acquitted us. But surprisingly, we were taken before Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja. On 19th of December, 2006, the honourable judge ruled in our favour, while discharging and acquitting us. ‘You will agree with us that these four rulings are enough proof that the OPC is not an unlawful organization or a threat to national security,” he said.
Mr. Adams said that it became necessary for the congress to refute Mr. Tsav’s claims so that its silence may not be viewed as guilt. He added that the group’s activities in the Southwest in the last ten years speaks of its peaceful nature.
According to the OPC leader, the group is in the forefront of the propagation and promotion of the Yoruba culture and values beyond the shores of Nigeria, adding that its involvement in traditional festivals such as the Osun Oshogbo festival in Osun State; the Oke Ibadan festival in Oyo State and the Olokun Festival in Badagry, Lagos State, has helped put these festivals on the global cultural map.
Mr. Adams also added that the group has continued to promote cordial relations with other ethnic groups and has been part of the Federal Government’s peace initiatives.
“‘It will also be recalled that Otunba Gani Adams was a participant at the National Peace Forum, organized by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-party Relations, in 2004. The OPC leader was later appointed as a state Peace Envoy. In the same vein, the OPC also participated at the African First Ladies Peace Mission meeting, organized in Abuja by the office of the First Lady in 2012,” he said.
Emphasising that the OPC is Yoruba organization, formed with the basic aim of promoting the cultural values and protect the interest of the Yoruba people, Mr. Adams said, “Nobody can fault our activities. Rather, unlike the acts of violence raging in other parts of the country, the south west has been very peaceful, with no single act of terrorism recorded on our soil.”