Oyo Assembly Invasion: Groups Blame Ibadan Attack on Leadership Failure,Calls for Fair Trial

State notoriety for corruption, leadership failure and declining faith in Nigeria in the face of growing misery are responsible for the recent invasion of Ibadan by a Yoruba group, a coalition of pan-Yoruba groups said in a joint statement on Monday.

While condemning the methods employed by some Yoruba activists led by Mrs Dupe Onitiri-Abiola, the groups noted that there was nothing wrong with the demands of the invaders for Yoruba self-determination.

It, therefore, called for fair trial of those arrested, saying their desperate action was informed by the desperate and brutish state of survival under which Yoruba people have been compelled to live.

The coalition condemned demolition of the house of Mrs Onitiri Abiola by the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, adding that the action was hasty, despotic and injurious to fair hearing and International law.

The 34 groups in a joint statement condemned what it called ‘opportunistic and self-serving defence of the Nigerian state’ by some fringe groups over the Ibadan attacks.

The coalition noted there were some 130 major self-determination groups in Yorubaland adding that it was contended that 99 percent of them had not condemned the Ibadan incident, except that they disagreed on the method.

“The mission of the Ibadan actors was to demand for Oodua Republic. It is a legitimate and popular demand by poor and suffering Yoruba people who constitute 90 percent of the population. Those opposed to Oodua Republic are people benefiting from the rot in Nigeria and are less than five percent” the coalition stated, adding, that the Ibadan incident compared with what was going on in the North-West, North-East and South-East was minor.

“In the North-East, North-West and South-East, agitators are armed with armoured vehicles, AK 47 and rocket propelled grenades. In the NE and NW the government even met with them and integrated some of them into the Nigerian Army. The youths of Yorubaland should be engaged to ensure the region does not slide into violence as seen in other parts of the country. The poverty and hopleessness in the land is real.What we need now is engagement, dialogue and not bullying, threat and intimidation”, the groups stated.

The coalition contended that what happened Ibadan might be a signal of greater dangers ahead.

The joint statement was signed by the following Yoruba self determination groups: O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC-Reformed), O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC-New ERA), Apapo Oodua Koya (AOKOYA), O’odua Liberation Movement (OLM), Oodua Revolutionary Movement (OYM), O’odua Youth Movement (OYM), Covenant Group (CG), Oodua Retired Officers Union (OROU), South-West Women Congress (SWWC), O’odua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC), Progressive Alliance in South-West (PASW), Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM), South-West Intelligence Alliance (SWIA), Oodua Hunters Union (OHUN), Itsekiri Agenda for Freedom (IAF), West Africa Yoruba Coalition Against Terrorism (WAOCAT) based in Ivory Coast), and Oodua International Democratic Movement (OIDEM), among others.

The 34 groups said the Ibadan incident had shown clearly that the demand for self-determination in Yorubaland was real adding that it was a force and social movement that had come to stay, saying nothing could be done to stop the agitation, unless the government opened up window of engagement.

The groups berated the Yoruba political actors for rushing to condemn the Ibadan saga while they kept quiet in the past 12 years that Fulani armed men and Boko Haram had killed 29,000 farmers, including women and children in Yorubaland.

“It’s a shame on all of you so-called political leaders. Yelwa was invaded by Fulani armed men. Owo was bombed. Thousands of Yoruba killed. Three prominent Yoruba Obas were killed. None of you visited their families, but you have the courage to demolish the house of Mrs Onitiri Abiola, arrest and kill Yoruba youths that staged a drama at Ibadan secretariat” the group stated.

“Methods may differ, but the overwhelming demand for Yoruba nation was a reality that arms, mortals,armoured tanks, bombs, threats and bullying could not stop” the groups in the joint statement signed by Rasaq Arogundade, Toafik Adeyemi and Samuel Ogunkola said.

The groups added that Yoruba and Itsekiri had suffered decades of repression in an institutional way, adding that having a Yorubaman as the President did not automatically resolve the historic injustice.

“We have seen increase in fuel price,hike in electricity tariff, loss of jobs while political leaders in the South West are hoarding palliatives and increasing the suffering of the people. It is an illusion to think Yoruba people with all the horrendous and lack of consultation will support the Federal Government just because the President is Tinubu. That is shallow and naive. The Yoruba are known to be critical of themselves, except for psychopaths”, the statement said.

The groups further contended that the President had never discussed nor shared his vision with millions of Yoruba people, except within the narrow prism of his political party which members in Yorubaland were less than five per cent of the entire population, adding that the first thing ousted President Goodluck Jonathan did when he came to power was to meet with self determination groups, including those from Yorubaland in a display of wisdom and common sense.

It added that former President Mohammadu Buhari did exactly the same thing by meeting with armed rebels in the North through emissaries.

The groups noted that eight years of former President Mohammadu Buhari’s government led to the killings, rape, murder and extermination of many Yoruba people adding that the damage done in the eight years was enough for Yoruba to demand for self determination as guaranteed by International law.

“Eventhough a Yoruba person is the President, there is no forum of engagement with him. His aides are deaf and dumb to the social movements in Yorubaland while underneath, teeming population of Yoruba people have not seen any fundamental changes, not even promises apart from the fact that some detached people have been appointed to increase their personal fortunes.

“The President has the option to understand and appreciate the grievances of Yoruba non party men and women who are in the majority or he is carried away by the lucre and comfort of office listening only to Yes men and Women who are totally isolated and detached from the burning issues in their constituencies” the coalition stated.

The groups added “If President Tinubu’s aides are genuinely representing their people in the SouthWest, they would have had information before the Ibadan invasion and would have even stopped it. Unfortunately, there is a thick layer of profiteers and racketeers around the President who live under the illusion that the eight years maximum rule of President Tinubu is the beginning and end of Yoruba future.They live by today,we live by the future of the long suffering Yoruba people.”