By Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta
Palpable tension took the better part of yesterday morning in Ake area of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as agitators of the Yoruba nation defied police ban on mass rally and marched through the streets with many of them taking position in front of the Palace of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo. As early as 7am yesterday, security operatives took over the streets of Abeokuta in order to stop the rally but the agitators under the aegis of Ilana Omo Oodua, defied the security presence and poured into the roads in procession.
The procession comprised young men and women with some of them headed towards the Adatan area of Ake. At the Ake palace, venue of the rally, joint security operatives were seen manning strategic positions, yet the Yoruba nation agitators, in defiance, passed through the Ake palace street, singing solidarity songs blared loudly from speakers attached to their moving vehicles. However, a swift response from the operatives of the State Police Command and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) prevented the agitators from constituting threat to the monarch and his palace.
Eleven of the agitators were arrested and whisked away, including a young man, Zannu Williams, who wore a traditional gear. The Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, told The Nation that the police acted quickly to apprehend the agitators to protect the monarch and the Palace from coming to harm. Abimbola, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), recalled that the Yoruba nation agitators had in a viral video, threatened the Alake of Egbaland with harm, saying given such circumstances, the police operatives wouldn’t wait until the people carried out the earlier threat before performing their duty of securing lives and property.
The Police Spokesman, however, said those arrested were later released on the instruction of the Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun. He added that after they were dispersed, the agitators headed for the State Police Headquarters, Eleweran, ostensibly to cause trouble but were repelled and dispersed. According to him, normalcy had returned. The Police Command had earlier barred the agitators from the mass rally, saying intelligence report has shown that the organisers of the rally “are being sponsored by certain individuals outside the state and the country to destabilize Ogun State.”
The Spokesman of the Command, Abimbola Oyeyemi in a statement on Thursday night in Abeokuta said the proponents of the Yoruba nation had held series of rallies in the different parts of the state, but the command would not perpetually stand by and watch public conducts of some citizens “hold others to ransom and threaten the corporate existence of the country.” He said: “The Command therefore, wishes to appeal to the leaders of this group to shelve the idea of staging another public rally in any part of the state for now, as such is capable of undermining the relative peace being enjoyed in the entire state.
“Consequently, the rally slated for Abeokuta on 1st May, 2021, is viewed by the Command as one too many in the state, and therefore not approved. Parents and guardians are hereby advised to warn their children and wards not to be involved in any of such gathering that may expose them to violence and consequently bring them on a collision course with the security agencies.” But the agitators vowed not to back off the rally.