Afenifere, YCE, OPC, others blast IGP over allegation of arms stockpiling in Southwest
Election: Give Lagos special attention, Olanrewaju tasks security agencies
Following the allegation by the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, on Monday, that information at his disposal show that Oduduwa Nation agitators were amassing weapons and mobilising resources to disrupt the peace, security, and electoral process in the Southwest geo-political zone ahead of the general elections, prominent Yoruba groups and organisations have scoffed at the report, saying the onus is on the police boss to prove the allegation.
Some of the prominent Yoruba organisations dismissed the IGP, saying he was only trying to create unnecessary tension across the Southwest ahead of the elections.
Those who reacted include leader of Yoruba apex socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; chairman, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Wale Oshun; former lawmaker who represented Ogun Central (1999-2003), Senator Femi Okuronmmu; Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams and immediate past General Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elder, Dr. Kunle Olajide.
Others were Director General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), Seye Oyeleye; President, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Akin Malaolu and Secretary General OPC, Bunmi Fasehun of the late Dr Fedrick Fasehun faction.
They said the police boss needs to cross-check his information and intelligence to ensure he feeds the nation with the correct situation of things, rather than making unfounded allegations.
In his reaction, Adebanjo believes there is no concrete evidence to substantiate what the IGP said.
According to him, “such allegations coming from the IGP, who is a Fulani man, lacks logic and there could be no iota of truth in it. We should ask the same police boss what he did to checkmate the excesses of armed Fulani herdsmen, who have killed and maimed innocent Nigerians under this same administration and nothing happened.”
Adebanjo added, “when the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, was issuing visas to Fulani foreigners at the point of entry into Nigeria and we warned him, where was this same IGP, who is now making spurious allegations? He should come out with substantial proof.”
The ARG chairman, Wale Oshun, described the allegation as a ‘blatant lie’, which he said some cabal in government were deliberately trying to cook up to cause disruption across Yoruba land ahead of the elections.
Wondering how such allegation should even have been made at this sensitive period when there is scarcity of fuel and naira notes, Oshun said: “We have Yoruba Nation agitators, spearheaded by Ilana Omo Oodua. This group has been going about its demand peacefully and approaching the United Nations, demanding for peaceful transition to Yoruba Nation from day one, at what point did the same body start stockpiling arms to fight the country?”
Oshun also dismissed the IGP’s allegation, saying that Ilana Omo Oodua has never hauled insult at anybody, attacked any institution or had been indicted in any of its activities.
“The highest activity of the group is to stage peaceful protest, which the police always quell with brutal force. So, how come this same body suddenly started stockpiling arms. Even the leader of the group, Prof. Banji Akintoye, was initially championing restructuring before it graduated to self-determination, after the excesses of the armed herdsmen and the kids glove treatment meted out on them by security agencies. The allegation is nonsense and it should be dismissed.”
The Aare Ona Kakanfo agreed with Adebanjo, saying the IGP should cross-check his intelligence very well.
According to him, “the agitators of Yoruba Nation cannot go to such an extent of stockpiling arms and ammunition. I am not saying the IGP shouldn’t be vigilant, but he needs to feed Nigerians with the right information at this delicate time.”
Okunrounmu also dismissed the allegation as mere figment of the imagination of the police, who according to him are acting on a prepared script.
He said this kind of strategy is not new when any government has become totally unpopular and is looking for every means to discourage the electorate who are rather ready to vote them out of power.
Although efforts to reach the leader of Ilana Omo Oduduwa, Akintoye, failed, another prominent leader of the group, Prof. Wale Adeniran, refused to make comments. He said since he had recused himself from the leadership of the organisation, the appropriate person to contact is Akintoye.
Also, efforts to speak with the lawyer of Yoruba self-determination fighter, Mr Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, failed.
Mr Yomi Aliyu, counsel to Igboho, didn’t pick calls made to him, but immediate past spokesman of Ilana Omo Oduduwa, Maxwell Adeleye, said the IGP was just looking for a flimsy excuse to create confusion.
According to Maxwell, “it is the character of our security agencies to make these kind of unfounded allegations of a group stockpiling arms and ammunition to disrupt elections. There is no truth in the allegation.”
On his part, the DG, DAWN Commission, Oyeleye, said the allegation was a surprise. “He who alleges must prove. The challenge is we really need to be careful not to inflame the combustible atmosphere that is in the country at the moment.
“Rather than the IGP coming out to raise such an alarm, which can only serve to fuel the crisis in the land, if he has such information, the ideal thing is for him to move in quietly to identify those he thinks are trying to cause trouble, not to throw such allegation in the air that serves no purpose,” he stated.
Also reacting, Yoruba Ronu said the allegation was vague. Malaolu said: “The allegations against Yoruba Nation proponents need to be properly explained.
“If it was true that some people are stockpiling arms to disrupt the election from holding, then how come arrests have not been made to date. The head of the police institution must have gone through many training on crime prevention and we believe that his good self should not expose him to gaps like this.
“Our forum is aware of the existence of thugs, agberos and cultists in the Southwest and Nigeria in general but the police have not done anything about them apart from puffing. The army recently carried out some mop up operation in Lagos. The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) should make its arrest and show the proof of its claims.”
MEANWHILE, former Minister of Communications, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retd), has urged heads of the various security agencies to give Lagos State special attention, noting that the emerging mega-city has many flashpoints to warrant focused attention of the military and other security services during the forthcoming elections.
Olanrewaju, former General Officer Commanding (GOC), Third Armoured Division Nigerian Army, made the observation in reaction to the statement credited to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, on the urgency and necessity of deploying defence forces against threats by renegade elements of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who have said that elections would not hold in the Southeastern part of the country.
Explaining his position on election security, he said: “Lagos being Nigeria’s most complex federating unit, should be included among other states requiring special security attention to which the armed forces, NPF, Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies should be involved.”
Olanrewaju urged the military high command and other security organisations to take particular look at major flashpoints in Lagos during elections, to ensure that no miscreants have the freedom of time to disrupt the process.
“We need this military assurance that a free, fair, and credible election will be held in Lagos State. We implore the Federal Government to deploy the military before, during and after February 25 election.
“There are many flash points in Lagos that make casting of votes very difficult because of the activities of thugs, miscreants and street urchins. They are often used to create senseless disturbances in the strongholds of opponents, rendering acceptance of results untenable.”