Despite the heavy presence of armed policemen and soldiers, the agitators numbering over 100 who besieged the surroundings of the park, chanted solidarity songs, waved ‘Oduduwa nation’ flags and banners.
Security operatives had very early in the day cordoned off parts of Lagos including Ikorodu, Ojota, Ajah, Abule Egba, Lekki, Agege, Ikeja, Maryland, Berger, Obalende, Yaba, Oshodi, Ogba and Lagos Island among other locations, leading to heavy traffic on major roads, but the agitators were undeterred.
Self-proclaimed activist and one of the vanguards of the Yoruba Nation agitation, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as ‘Sunday Igboho’ was not on hand to lead the protesters, but as time ticked by, the number of agitators who had been hanging around the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota grew. They sang unity songs as they huddled together.
“No going back,” “We want Oodua Nation,” were among the songs chanted repeatedly, as the protesters asked the Federal Government to stop “persecuting” Sunday ‘Igboho.’ Some fliers displayed were captioned, ‘Leave Igboho alone,’ ‘Igboho is not the problem, arrest terrorists and bandits.’ The proponents, who also had banners, t-shirts, face caps and other promotional items bearing inscriptions demanding Southwest’s exit, said they were tired of Nigeria and urged authorities to approve the exit of the Yoruba.
It added: “An injury to one, is an injury to all and by similitude, an injury to our hero, is an injury to us all. Ibarapa Youths unite with Igboho to declare that we are now, more than ever before, resolutely committed to the worthy resolution of enthroning an era of self-redefinition, ethnic equality, justice and Fairplay by resisting all the enslavement agenda and ruthless acts of bigotry being openly enforced by the government of the day on those it figures as second and third-class citizens of this country.”
The agitators also expressed their displeasure over the activities of killer herders in southwest. They also displayed placards like “Yoruba Nation Now”, “Oduduwa Nation now, No going back”.
The Nation had previously reported there was tension at the surroundings of Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota when the Pro-Yoruba Nation agitators stormed the venue.
The police had earlier sealed off the park, before the 9:00a.m. scheduled starting time for the rally.
Following the tension that ensued at the Ojota venue of the Yoruba Nation rally, security operatives on Saturday afternoon restored normalcy to the area.
They also demanded an independent state for the southwest region.
The police action came shortly after the Lagos Commissioner of Police Hakeem Odumosu addressed journalists at the park saying the security operatives were there to ensure there was no “security breach” in the state.
He said the Yoruba nation letter about the protest received by the command was “open-ended.”
“We are not saying you should not protests, we want you to send a detailed letter to the police stating the number and identities of the protesters. Also, the location should be in the letter,” he said.
The Ilana Omo Oodua, IOO, on Saturday, slammed the Nigeria Police, Lagos Command, over the death of a yet-to-be identified Soft Drinks Seller at the venue of the Yoruba Nation’s Rally held at Ojota, in Lagos, insisting that it will not back down in its struggle.
The group, however, hailed thousands of the Yoruba people who defied the Police Intimidation and harrasment to show solidarity with the agitation for Self-Determination, saying “the struggle continues.”
The group is headed by a Renowned Historian and Second Republic Member of the Nigerian Senate, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye.
The crowd, led by some women and the General-Secretary and Legal Adviser of the Group, Messrs. George Akinola and Olasupo Ojo respectively, were dispersed by security agencies including the Nigerian Police, Army, DSS and Civil Defense Corps with teargas and live bullets despite being peaceful and orderly.
The IOO’s Media Communications Secretary, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, in a statement said: “That the rally took place with thousands of participants despite Police Harrasment symbolises that the Yoruba People are not cowards.
We want to inform the whole world that a stray bullet fired by Officers of the Nigerian Police killed a yet-to-be identified Soft Drinks Seller at Ojota, the venue of the Yoruba Nation Rally held today Saturday July 3rd, 2021.
Aside from traders, youths, and women, traditionalists, dressed in white wrappers and costumes, also joined the protesters in the demand for a sovereign Yoruba state.
The Police, however, sprayed water cannon and fired teargas on the protesters to disperse them. This was as some of the protesters were arrested and kept in waiting for Black Maria till they were moved to the command headquarters.
MEANWHILE, a 14-year-old girl named Jumoke, who was recently employed as a salesgirl in a makeshift shop close to the rally venue, was allegedly killed by a stray bullet while preparing for the day.
When The Guardian visited the scene, blood was still fresh at the scene and covers of yoghourt bottles littered the floor.
A man in his 50s, who does not want his name in print, said: “Jumoke was loading yoghourt inside the freezer before she was hit by the bullet on the rib. She started working here two weeks ago. Her body was moved away by the police when this place became crowded.
We learnt that the police claimed she died two days ago, but see the blood on the floor still fresh. Jumoke was killed by the police.”
Some other residents claimed a stray bullet from some police officers chasing some protesters hit the girl.
The Lagos State Police Command has, however, debunked involvement in the killing of the girl.
A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejobi said the Command did not fire a live bullets at the Ojota rally and that the corpse of the girl was found wrapped and abandoned at a distance, far from Ojota venue of the rally, behind MRS Filling Station, inward Maryland with dried blood stains suggesting that the corpse is not fresh.
After a close look at the corpse, a wound suspected sustained from a sharp object was seen on it. The Command hereby wishes to debunk the rumour and state categorically that it is a calculated attempt to create confusion and fears in the minds of good people of Lagos State and the country at large.”
He added that the news was false and mischievous, urging the public to disregard the news and go about daily activities while investigation to unravel the incident will commence immediately.
He said that the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, therefore commiserates with the family of the deceased and assured that a thorough investigation will be carried out.
REACTING to a police show of force, Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO), a group headed by renowned Historian and senator in the Second Republic, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye said it salutes Yoruba women who led the rally from the front, adding that, “the struggle continues.”
The group’s Media Communications Secretary, Maxwell Adeleye, said given that the rally took place with thousands of participants despite police harassment symbolises that the Yoruba People are not cowards.
“IOO salutes to the women who led the rally from the front and appreciates the gentlemen of the media who trooped out to cover the rally despite all inconveniences. We have held our rally, notwithstanding the attempts to ensure we do not come to Lagos. That the people came out in thousands is an indication that the Yoruba People are not cowards.