Ibadan Attack: Police Launch Manhunt for Abiola’s Widow

The Police yesterday launched a manhunt for Mrs. Dupe Onitiri-Abiola, a suspected sponsor of the invasion of the Oyo State Government secretariat in Ibadan by some Yoruba Nation agitators.

The manhunt for Mrs Onitiri-Abiola, a widow of the business mogul and prominent politician, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, followed her broadcast in a viral video in which she claimed responsibility for the violence that jolted the governments of the six South-West states.

Bashorun Abiola won the 1993 Presidential election, but was denied the joy of victory by Nigeria’s military junta.

He proclaimed himself president and was put behind bars and later died in custody in 1998.

The agitators on Saturday morning, wielding guns and other weapons, many of them wearing military camouflage, invaded the Oyo State House of Assembly Complex located inside the secretariat and hoisted their flag.

They also attempted to breach the security of the Governor’s Office, before they were repelled by security operatives.

No fewer than 21 of the agitators were rounded up.

Yesterday, those arrested were paraded by the police with the arms, ammunition, camouflage and other items recovered from them.

Oyo State Police Commissioner, Adebola Hamzat, who paraded the 21 suspects, described the invasion as a criminal, unpatriotic and a clear case of treasonable felony and terrorism, which would be meted with adequate sanctions.

Although he did not mention the name of Mrs Onitiri-Abiola, Special Adviser to the Oyo State Governor on Security Matters, Fatai Owoseni, said he was aware that she was leading a group of Yoruba Nation agitators.

Prof. Banji Akintoye, leader of another Yoruba group along with Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho), in a statement on Saturday in which he dissociated his group from the action, alluded to the group as the one led by Mrs Onitiri-Abiola.

Thereafter, a viral video by Mrs Onitiri-Abiola claiming leadership of the group surfaced on social media.

Explaining how it happened on Saturday, the Police chief said: “At about 8:55 a.m., information was received that some men, dressed in military-like camouflage and armed with pump action semi-automatic rifles, were sighted on motorcycles around Olomi and moving into Ibadan.

“At about 9:15 a.m., the hoodlums, later known as Yoruba Nation agitation group, were trailed to the state secretariat and premises of the Governor’s Office.

“They hoisted their flag at the House of Assembly, proclaiming the creation of a ‘Democratic Republic of the Yoruba’.

“With police reinforcement, the miscreants were warned to disperse. The agitators turned violent and opened fire on the police and a detachment of Amotekun Corps present.”

The commissioner said the police responded and were joined by operatives of other security agencies, who suppressed the treason.

He also said that five pump action semi-automatic rifles, two wooden double barrel guns and other exhibits were recovered from the agitators.

Also recovered, according to the commissioner, were two jackets, 30 pieces of torchlights, 49 bells, five horse whips, seven pieces of walkie-talkies and accessories, four generators, 72 pairs of camouflage uniforms and 405 live cartridges.

He said the continued existence of Nigeria as a sovereign, indivisible entity was a task that must be accomplished, adding that “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”.

The Police boss said Oyo State Police Command would be unrelenting in ensuring the unity of the country.

Hamzat said: “As a parent, I enjoin other parents, guardians and leaders in every sphere of political, religious and socio-economic influence to prevail on their children, ward, protégés and followers against being used by unpatriotic individuals to promote anarchy in the state and by extension, the nation.

“Oyo State is home to many responsible, hospitable and extremely intelligent individuals who pride themselves on creativity, hard work and resourcefulness.

“Under my watch, it would not be reduced to a playground for the criminally minded and misguided individuals or groups who intend to make their livelihood from distorting the relative tranquillity enjoyed by the good people of the state.”

The commissioner said the arrested suspects had been listing the names of their sponsors, adding that the Police had visited some locations within the state where some incriminating items were recovered.

Hamzat recalled that a member of the Amotekun Corps was injured during the invasion and one of the agitators who resisted arrest got injured in a gun duel with the police.

He clarified that police were not aware of any death during the incident.

We have no regret, say agitators

Some of the suspected agitators, however, remained defiant yesterday.

They told reporters that they had no regret for invading the secretariat.

They said their action was not treasonable, adding that they followed due process.

One of the agitators, Alabi Ogundeji, a 55-year-old lecturer at Federal College of Education (Special) (SPED), Oyo, said what he did was lawful under the law.

He said: “I’m part of the agitation and I can’t deny it. Yoruba as an indigenous nation is a nation on its own. We have so many nations in Nigeria, and Yoruba is one of them.

“Oodua Nation leaders have taken every step and action that needed to be taken. We have embarked on a referendum, which was the 500 petitions signed by all Yorubas and these served as a referendum.

“Our leadership went to all Yoruba-speaking states to serve officials letters written by our leaders and we were given our copy. After that was the proclamation. After that, declaration, occupation, and notification to the world that Yoruba is an indigenous nation.

“We were at the secretariat to celebrate and rejoice because of the new nation that was born. It is not a new thing that Yoruba is a nation and we want to stand on our own. We have been together with Nigeria for over 100 years.”

Another suspect, 29-year-old phone repairer, Ademola Adeniyi, said he did not regret his actions.

He said: “We all know that nothing is working in Nigeria and things are hard for everyone, except those in government. We were at the secretariat waiting for our leader to come and address us.

“We believe our leader knows much about the law. So, we are not afraid to join when we are called upon. Our leaders told us that all challenges Yorubas are facing shall be addressed if we achieve our aim.”

Onitiri- Abiola is known, says Owoseni

The Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor on Security, Fatai Owoseni, said Onitiri-Abiola was the leader of the separatist group.

Owoseni, who spoke on national television, said the woman had been there for more than three decades.

On the statement credited to Prof. Banji Akintoye alleging that Onitiri-Abiola was behind the Saturday incident, Owoseni said: “The woman has been there. She was there even during the time of the late Bashorun Kashimawo Abiola.

“She has spoken out at one time or another. This confirms the proliferation of separatist groups I talked about.

“Some of these people read the United Nations Conventions Charter wrongly and everyone wants to take advantage of such an act.”

Owoseni, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, said the Federal Government was already concerned about the security situation in the country and working to address the concerns.

On how to tame similar incidents in the future, he said there was the need to rejig the nation’s security architecture.

Owoseni urged political leaders to make conscious efforts to engage the youths on values, showcasing good role models.

Owoseni added: “We need to engage in value re-orientation, using good role models that will be talking to people.

“There is a need for the total overhaul of our security architecture as regards licensing of uniforms by different security outfits.”

Invaders met superior powers, says Makinde

Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, said the hoodlums that stormed the state secretariat met what was beyond their imagination.

The governor assured that the state would spare no resources to ensure a safe and secure environment for the people.

He thanked the security operatives for their promptness when the response procedure was activated, noting that it quickly stemmed the incident in the quickest possible time.

Makinde spoke while receiving the new General Officer Commanding (GOC), Second Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Obinna Onubogu, in his office.

However, the governor acknowledged the current trying times for leaders at the various levels, saying they should think beyond kinetic response to emergencies.

He said the leadership must win the war without losing the peace.

Makinde said: “On Saturday, the emergency security response procured was activated and it worked. There are gaps really, but the response was quick.

“The hoodlums met what was beyond their imagination and within an hour, everything was under control.

“I on behalf of the Oyo State Government and people of the state thank all security agencies, including the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Service (DSS), Nigerian Army, Operation Burst, Amotekun and others as everyone responded timely.

“We are indeed grateful for the timely response as it helped to calm the situation within a short time. Most of the things we have been doing jointly with the 2Div will continue.”

Makinde appealed to the Chief of Army Staff to allow their personnel to have more time to work in their posts, so that the leaders would not work with new people now and then.

He said he had worked with five GOCs within the last five years of his administration, adding that many more might still be posted to Oyo State before the expiration of his tenure.

Makinde said: “We must win the war, but we must also win the peace. It is a challenging period that anyone in the position of leadership, either military or political, even community leadership, is challenged at this time.”

General Onubogu described the invasion as unfortunate, despite the peace in the state.

He assured that the Nigerian Army would play its part to ensure that such a thing never repeated itself.

Onubogu also promised a synergy among the security agencies in line with the directive and policy of the Chief of Army Staff, noting that such collaboration would go a long way to guarantee better security.

While soliciting support for the Army, the GOC said he had been briefed on the numerous support the state government had been providing for the Army in the state.

NSCDC, Police place officers on red alert

Meanwhile, security agents in Ondo State have been placed on red alert ‘to ward off any incursion into the state by the agitators and any other miscreants.’

Ondo State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Commandant Ibiloye Oluyemi, who ordered divisional officers and tactical teams to be on red alert, said the command was committed to protecting life and property and critical national assets and infrastructure.

He said the Intelligence Department, Armed Squad, Counter Terrorism Unit, Rapid Response Squad, and Operations would be on red alert to ensure that what happened at Ibadan was not repeated in Ondo.

Oluyemi said there was need for security in Ondo, especially now that the political parties were having their rallies with mixed crowds in attendance.

He said officers should remain professional and apolitical in their assignments.

Ondo Police spokesman, Funmilayo Odunlami-Omisanya, said policemen had been deployed to strategic places to ward off any attack.

Southwest Reps Caucus condemns invasion

The South-West Caucus of the House of Representatives condemned the invasion, saying that it posed a threat to the peace and stability of the region.

The caucus said in a statement by the Deputy Chief Whip, Dr. Adewunmi Onanuga; Chairman of the caucus, Dr . Abiodun Faleke and Secretary of the caucus, Taofeek Ajilesoro, that violence should not be permitted in the region.

The statement reads: “As representatives of the people, we stand firmly against any form of unlawful behaviour and violence that undermines the rule of law and the unity of our country, Nigeria.

“It is essential that all grievances and demands 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.”

Source: The Nation