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Time to deal with Yoruba nation agitators

Twenty-nine persons, comprising of 21 men and six women are currently awaiting trial before an Ibadan Magistrate Court for their role in the invasion of…

Twenty-nine persons, comprising of 21 men and six women are currently awaiting trial before an Ibadan Magistrate Court for their role in the invasion of the Oyo State secretariat and attempted takeover of the House of Assembly on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in a failed bid to declare a ‘Democratic Republic of the Yoruba’. These Yoruba nation agitators, wearing camouflage uniforms and waving rifles, charms and a so-called Oodua nation flag were subdued by a combined force of police and military personnel.

Those arrested   were charged with seven counts consisting of “conspiracy, treasonable felony, belonging to unlawful society, going armed in public, conduct likely to cause breach of peace and unlawful possession of firearms.” The presiding magistrate O. O. Ogunkanmi has since remanded them in prison custody till August 1, 2024.

Subsequently, the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, commended the security forces for the quick intervention. “On what happened on Saturday, the Emergency Security Response was activated and it actually worked. The response was quick and timely and I believe the hoodlums and miscreants met something that was beyond their imagination. Within one hour, everything was under control. Let me use this opportunity to thank you and other security agencies in the state. Everybody responded timely and we are grateful for the timely response. Concerning the unfortunate incident, what I can say is that we must win the war, but we must also win peace. It is a challenging period,” said the governor while receiving GOC 2 Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Obinna Onubogu, at his office.

He also ordered the demolishing of  buildings belonging to the Yoruba nation agitators under the leadership of Modupe Onitiri-Abiola, widow of the late politician, Chief MKO Abiola. According to the Oyo State Commissioner for Lands, Housing, Survey, and Urban Development, William Akin-Funmilayo, who spoke at the sites of the demolished buildings located separately at Shagari area, Toye Oyesola Street, Boluwaji and at Zone 4, Irorun Oluwa Community, Fatusi Ayegun road, Odo Dudu area, both in Oluyole Local Government Area, Ibadan the government secured a court order to demolish the buildings after the state police command found incriminating evidence that the agitators were using them for their nefarious activities.

Also in a meeting with the Yoruba sociocultural group, Afenifere, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu warned the Yoruba nation agitators that they would face the full wrath of the law. A statement issued by presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, quoted the president as saying, “Those who think they can threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria will have themselves to blame. They have a price to pay and we are not going to relent. I am irrevocably committed to the unity of Nigeria and constitutional democracy.”

In addition, the South West caucus of the House of Representatives condemned the invasion as a threat against peace and development of the region. “As representatives of the people, we stand firmly against any form of unlawful behavior and violence that undermines the rule of law and the unity of our country, Nigeria. It is essential that all grievances and demands should be addressed through peaceful and lawful means, respecting the rights and well-being of all citizens.

“We urge all parties involved to engage in constructive dialogue, prioritise the welfare of our people, and work towards finding peaceful and lasting solutions to any grievances. Violence and lawlessness have no place in our society and we call on all individuals to uphold the principles of peace, unity, and respect for the rule of law. The South-West caucus remains committed to upholding the values of democracy, justice, and unity in our region and the country at large. Together, we can overcome challenges and build a better future for all.”

While we commend the authorities for their prompt intervention we call on the federal and all the South-west state governments to come down heavily on these agitators and their paymasters. Governments at all levels as well as security agencies must not limit their focus to only the 21 arraigned persons, but dig deeper, unearth and punish to the full extent of the law, all those found to be involved in this irredentist agitation. Security agencies must, as a matter of necessity improve their intelligence-gathering and coordination as one wonders how these miscreants, met, planned and carried out this despicable act without the awareness of our security services.

We also urge the Yoruba traditional and intellectual leaders to go beyond mouthing condemnations and make the environment hostile for these sectional agitators in order to avoid the reoccurrence of the insecurity plaguing other regions of the country. We recall with regret how North-East communities sheltered suspected Boko Haram members before they turned violent and how the South-East similarly harbored MASSOB and IPOB members in the early stages of their evolution. Sadly, that was what happened in the Niger Delta with communities tacitly identifying with militants as freedom fighters before they grew into an anathema to the society.

As to the self-proclaimed Yoruba nation agitators, we unreservedly condemn their treasonable actions and call on them to desist from further actions. We, at Daily Trust, believe that after 25 years as a constitutional democracy, with representatives of all sections of the country in the National Assembly, with the Federal Executive Council fully representing the diversity of the country, with all governors and state legislators elected by their constituencies, rather than appointed from other regions as was done during the military era, there is no room for any extra-constitutional means of agitation and non-state actors have no business interceding on behalf of their communities.

Moreover, it is ridiculous, if not ludicrous that such folly is emerging when someone from that part of the country is at the helm of affairs as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What phantom marginalization do these criminal elements hope to latch on to, in order to draw support among the Yoruba for their foolhardy endeavor?

We affirm that by whatever means Nigeria was contrived into being by the British, after more than a century of corporate existence, the nation has become so much intertwined that no section, tribe or ethnic group can afford to exist in isolation. And if there is any section that feels aggrieved with the way and manner the country is being governed there are constitutional means to address such issues which should be tabled by the duly elected representatives of those communities.

We, therefore, call on the government and community leaders to nip this agitation in the bud to prevent needless blood-shedding of innocent Nigerians.

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