Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) yesterday stopped a mass rally of the Yoruba Summit Group scheduled to hold in front of the Agodi Government Arcade, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Also, men of the Ondo State Police Command prevented another rally organised by a pro-democracy group from holding in Akure, the state capital.
The rallies were to protest the spate of insecurity in the South-West.
The group, an amalgamation of all socio-cultural and self-determination groups in Yoruba land had converged to discuss insecurity in the land, particularly kidnapping and killings of people along the Ibadan-Ife road as well as in Ondo, Ekiti axis of the South-West.
The security operatives, in about five buses and clad in their black uniform, had arrived about 7a.m. and cordoned off the area, to foil the rally.
Among the people arrested were Dr. Kunle Hamzat, the state coordinator of Oodua Coalition Against Insurgency and Kidnapping in Yoruba land; Akeem Lawal (a.k.a. Aluta), a lady activist simply identified as Princess Oyeronke and a sound system operator contracted to provide services at the event.
They were whisked away to the DSS office at Alesinloye headquarters of the service.
Men of the DSS, who foiled the rally, chased the placard-carrying members, grabbed and dragged them into the Operation Burst yard opposite the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Ibadan.
When contacted on phone for clarifications over the incidence, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Superintendent of Police Olugbenga Fadeyi said: “I have not been briefed on the matter, it sometimes take hours before I’m properly briefed on some certain incidents.”
Confirming the arrests, the National Public Relations Officer of the Oodua People’s Congress (New Era), Comrade Adesina Akinpelu, decried the development he likened to the infamous incidences during the military junta.
Akinpelu said: “We got all the necessary approvals, but we were surprised to see men of the DSS arriving much earlier, even before the coalition members, with the intent to stop the rally.”
Meanwhile, the policemen, who stormed the venue of the Akure rally, whisked the chairman of the organising committee away and destroyed banners and other campaign items of the group.
The rally, tagged “June 12 Otoge Rally,” was planned by human rights and civil society organisations and billed to hold simultaneously in all the South-West states, including parts of Kwara and Kogi states.
However, the venue of the state version was changed by the organisers from Alagbaka Akure Roundabout to Adegbemile square.
While the organisers were still busy putting up their banners, musical instruments and other gadgets for the rally, a combined team of security operatives swooped on them and took over the new venue as early as 7a.m.
They carted away all the materials. Several groups coming to the venue, including invited speakers, were said to have been stopped at different parts of the city.
An eyewitness said the coordinators of the events were whisked away by security agents who accused the organisers of allegedly seeking to declare Oduduwa Republic.
One of the invited speakers at the event confirmed that one of the organisers called him on phone that the rally had been forcefully dispersed by security agents and that the whereabouts of the coordinator was unknown, having been chased by security operatives.
He said the rally was meant to draw the attention of the Federal Government and the world to the worsening state of insecurity in the South-West and the country in general.
He condemned any suggestion associating the rally with treason.
According to him, the theme of the rally, which he said was “safety and security in Yoruba land,” was explicit enough.
He added that “security of lives and property of the citizens is the overriding essence of government and the citizens have inalienable right to their security, which they are at liberty to demand from government, else the state is in danger of the consequences of every citizen exercising his God-given right to personal security and self-preservation.”
Meanwhile, the Yoruba Koya Leadership and Training Foundation, a pan-Yoruba social-cultural group, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the South-West governors to redouble efforts at ending insecurity in the region.
The group, in a June 12 “O To Ge Rally” (Enough is Enough Rally) tagged: “Safety and Security in Yorubaland”, held in Lagos to commemorate June 12 as the Nigeria’s Democracy Day on Wednesday, demanded security of lives and property.
According to them, there is need to end incessant kidnapping, killings and destruction of farmlands by suspected herdsmen in Yorubaland.
Speaking at the rally, Otunba Deji Osibogun, the National Convener of the group, stated that the Federal Government as well as the South-West governors must rise up to security challenges facing the region.
Osibogun, who noted that the rally was not to declare Oodua or Yoruba Republic as being insinuated, said it was to make government accountable to the needs of the masses, especially in terms of security.
He urged President Buhari to redouble efforts at clamping down on activities of killer herdsmen.
“It is enough; this suffering is too much. Our political class should not wait until Nigerians bite back. Security is our right.
“Let there be employment opportunities for our youths to prevent them from taking to crimes. Don’t let the hoodlums kill us all, give us security,” he said.
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