The Department of State Security (DSS) recently raided the residence of Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, the self-styled champion of ‘Yoruba nation’. The DSS accused him of planning a violent insurrection against the Nigerian State.
Igboho escaped arrest during the raid but 13 of his associates were arrested after a gun battle at his residence in Soka, Ibadan. Two persons were also killed. Weapons recovered included seven AK-47 assault rifles, 30 fully charged AK-47 magazines and 5,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. The service suspected that the weapons were those seized by Igboho’s men from the Customs and Immigration personnel at Idi Iroko, Ogun State.
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Parading the suspects, the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, said Igboho, in the course of agitation for self-determination, had become well-armed and a threat to public order. He advised Igboho to turn himself in. It is sad to note, however, that it took the security operatives so long to take action on Igboho, seeing that he commenced his activities months ago. Their delay enabled him to amass followers and arms and tackling those followers will now be a big problem.
Sunday Igboho, the new champion for the agitation of Yoruba nation, took the South West by storm pushing the OPC into insignificance. He was hailed, encouraged and supported by many people who matter in the region. He became a law unto himself with the active support and encouragement of some leaders in the South West. They received Igboho individually and gave him words of encouragement any time he visited them. Such visits always came after a massive pro-Yoruba nation rally in towns and cities in the region or when his marauding gang raided “settler” communities perceived as enemies, set their houses on fire and killed some of the residents. With time Igboho felt emboldened to demand unalloyed loyalty to his violent campaign and began to threaten Yoruba leaders including their revered traditional leaders who question his activities. He also began to confront security agencies.
It is, therefore, a welcome development that security agents have woken up from their slumber to act on this. Criminal elements must not be allowed to threaten the peace in the country. All grievances should be channeled to the appropriate authorities through legal means.
Leaders of the South West are duty bound to support the federal government and the security agencies to rein in all violent agitations for separatism in order to maintain law and order in the country. As a consequence, they must part ways with Igboho and stand with the nation. They have no other option, for their inaction or silence could be translated to mean support and that is dangerous for the country. Leaders of the South West should learn from the North East, where Boko Haram started, and due to delayed action, the group became too hot to handle. The violence visited on the South East by IPOB where both security operatives and important personalities were killed is another example to learn from.
Furthermore, we believe that the Yoruba nation rally was ill-timed. This is because it came not long after the EndSARS happened in that region and the scars are still with us. The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said when he visited President Muhammadu Buhari that property worth one trillion naira were destroyed during the violence that trailed the EndSARS protest. In view of this and considering that there was no guarantee that the rally would be peaceful, leaders in the region should have prevailed on the organisers not to go ahead with it. Also, there were controversies over the alleged shooting of a sales girl. Now, all that could have been avoided if the protest had not held. There is nothing wrong in agitating for self-determination, but there are peaceful ways of going about it. There is an ample opportunity at the moment with the on-going constitutional amendment process at the National Assembly. We advise all groups to avail themselves with that opportunity and stop all recourse to violence. Finally, leaders at all levels should come together and work for the growth and development of the country. The growing division will not help anyone or region.