Friday, October 22, 2021

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    EndSARS: ‘We were shot, SARS still working’, Lagos protesters insist

    There was a large turnout of protesters at the Lekki tollgate on Wednesday leading to gridlock in the area.

    DSS goes after Igboho’s financiers, probes aides’ call logs

    The Department of State Services has begun an analysis of the call logs of the detained aides to Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.

    It was gathered that the DSS will carry out a forensic analysis of the call logs, messages and other contents on the phones of the 13 aides of Igboho who were arrested during Thursday’s raid on his Soka, Ibadan residence.

    The suspects are: Abdulateef Ofeyagbe, Amoda Babatunde (aka Lady K), Tajudeen Erinoyen, Diekola Ademola, Abideen Shittu, Jamiu Noah, Ayobami Donald, Adelabe Usman, Oluwapelumi Kunle, Raji Kazeem, Taiwo Opeyemi and Bamidele Sunday.

    Igboho has gone underground since his Ibadan residence was raided by men of the DSS ahead of a major rally in support of the call for Yoruba nation in Lagos on Saturday.

    The DSS spokesman, Peter Afunaya, had told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that the raid was carried out based on an intelligence report that Igboho had stockpiled arms in his residence.

    Two persons were killed during the operation.

    The agency presented seven AK-47 rifles allegedly recovered during the raid on Igboho’s house, as well as three pump-action guns, 30 fully charged AK-47 magazines, 5,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, five cutlasses, one jack-knife, one pen knife, two pistol holsters, a pair of binoculars, a wallet containing $5, local and international driving licences in his name, ATM cards, a German residence permit No. YO2N6K1NY bearing his name, two whistles, 50 cartridges and 18 walkie-talkies.

    Others are three charm jackets/traditional body armour, two laptops, one Toshiba and one Compaq laptops, Igboho’s passport and those of his aides.

    Afunaya claimed that five of the AK-47 rifles recovered from Igboho’s residence were snatched from the Nigeria Customs and Immigration personnel at Idi-Iroko, Ogun State.

    He explained that Igboho and his group, in the guise of campaign for self-determination had become well-armed and determined to undermine public order.

    Following this development, Sunday PUNCH gathered that the secret police planned to go after Igboho’s collaborators and financiers.

    Multiple sources said DSS investigators hoped to track down those offering financial and material support to the agitation for the creation of Yoruba Nation.

    It was also gathered that the secret police would liaise with the International Criminal Police Organisation to apprehend Igboho wherever he may be hiding.

    “The service is in the process of liaising with the Interpol to track down the fugitive. He will be watch-listed so he can be arrested wherever he may be found.

    “Our forensic experts would comb the call logs and other contents of the phones of all the suspects in custody. We hope to harvest a trove of information that could lead to Igboho’s financiers and collaborators in the coming weeks,” a DSS operative confided in one of our correspondents on Friday.

    Also, another top DSS official told one of our correspondents that the phones seized from Igboho’s home would be examined and this could also expose the identities of those sponsoring him.

    “It is standard procedure to process suspects and their phones. Igboho didn’t know we were coming, hence he was unable to take away his passport and other items. Operatives are currently searching through the seized phones, WhatsApp chats and other things.

    “This could expose the identities of people sponsoring Igboho and those supporting him,” the source said.

    Meanwhile, reacting to the invasion of Igboho’s residence, the President of Oodua Worldwide, a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group headquartered in Canada, Prince Adewale Ojo, described the DSS’ action as “callous, oppressive, barbaric and smirks of obvious favouritism deliberately skewed to favour a section of the country against others.”

    Ojo wondered why a section of the country had been terrorising the citizens of Nigeria without let while Igboho, “who is carrying out a peaceful agitation would be the target of the government.”

    Clampdown on Igboho, others won’t quell Yoruba agitation –Group
    Also, the leadership of Kiriji Heritage Defenders on Saturday advised those behind the effort to clamp down on voices agitating for good governance and better security in the Yorubaland to have a rethink, saying the use of force would not silence the race.

    Speaking at the Kiriji Battlefield, Imesi-Ile, Osun State, shortly after his investiture as Aareogun Kiriji, Chief Alebiosu Kalaowo said the group would collaborate with others with similar interests to ensure maximum security across the Yorubaland.

    Kalaowo said the siege on the Yorubaland by armed bandits, with conventional security outfits appearing overwhelmed, had made it necessary for the people to rise to the occasion and complement government’s efforts.

    He said, “The spirit of our ancestors are with Sunday Igboho, Gani Adams and other men working towards better security for the Yorubaland. Clampdown on just one of them will not end the agitation.

    Yoruba Nation rally: Salesgirl killed, many arrested as policemen, soldiers shoot, teargas agitators
    Policemen and soldiers disrupted the Yoruba nation rally held in Ojota, Lagos State, on Saturday, allegedly killing a salesgirl and arresting several agitators.

    The security men fired shots, tear gas and used cannon water to disperse demonstrators and journalists shortly after the rally took off.

    Sunday PUNCH learnt that the slain victim, identified simply as Jumoke, was displaying drinks at her boss’ shop located in a compound close to the rally ground when security men chased some agitators into the premises amid shootings.

    She was said to have been hit by a stray bullet that ripped through her stomach and left a deep hole. Her corpse was later taken away in a police van.

    THE PUNCH, who monitored the rally, also saw policemen arresting protesters and dragging them into waiting police vans.

    The Lagos State Police Command had warned the Yoruba Nation agitators to jettison the rally, citing security concerns that it would be hijacked by hoodlums.

    But the organisers of the rally comprising Sunday Igboho-led group and the umbrella body of Yoruba self-determination groups, Ilana Omo Oodua, led by a former senator, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye, insisted that it would hold as scheduled.

    Igboho had initially suspended the rally after operatives of the Department of State Services laid siege to his residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, around 1 am on Thursday, killing two persons and arresting 13 others.

    To further deter the protesters, the police embarked on a show of force in some parts of Lagos on Friday.

    But they (the agitators) made good their pledge around 11 am – two hours later than the scheduled time – as they surfaced despite the heavy presence of armed security men around the Gani Fawehinmi Park where the event was supposed to hold. Igboho was absent at the rally.

    The Commissioner of Police in the state, Hakeem Odumosu, was addressing journalists when the rally took off.

    The demonstrators chanted different kinds of freedom songs, including, “No going back,” “We want Oodua Nation,” and displayed banners as well as placards bearing, “Oduduwa Republican Movement,” “We cannot be intimidated,” among others.

    They expressed their grievances amid cheers from commuters passing through the route.

    Also, a group of women traditionalists participated in the rally in full white regalia synonymous with African traditional religion.

    However, hardly had the rally commenced when security men struck, dispersing agitators with water, tear gas and gunshots.

    Salesgirl shot dead, many arrested
    In the ensuing disruption, one Jumoke, a salesgirl, was shot dead while displaying wares at her boss’ shop as policemen hauled off many protesters into their vans and took them away.

    An eyewitness, Oladele Babalola, said Jumoke was shot by one of the security men who chased some agitators into the compound where the shop was located.

    He said, “I cannot say whether the shot was fired by a policeman or a soldier. It hit the girl while she was arranging bottles of yoghurt on a stand. She died on the spot.”

    “She just opened the shop and was arranging drinks when security men chased people into the compound. They were shooting. She wanted to run away when the bullet hit her,” a resident, who gave her name only as Yemi, added.

    Some neighbours had earlier claimed diminutive Jumoke was 14, but her distraught boss, Tosin Oyemade, later told Sunday PUNCH she was 24, adding that she started working for her about one month ago.

    “I was in the church when I got a call that she had been shot. She was from Osun State. This is not fair at all. This is injustice. She was working to make ends meet,” Oyemade lamented in tears.

    But the state police command in a statement on Saturday denied that Jumoke was killed by the police, noting that the corpse was not fresh.

    The spokesperson for the command, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said attributing Jumoke’s killing to police shooting was “a calculated attempt to create confusion and fears in the minds of the good people of Lagos State and the country at large.”

    The statement read in part, “The command did not fire a single live bullet at the Ojota rally today (Saturday). The said corpse was found wrapped and abandoned at a distance, far from Ojota venue of the rally, behind MRS Filling Station, inward Maryland, on the other side of the venue, with dried bloodstains suggesting that the corpse is not fresh.

    “After a close look at the corpse, a wound suspected to have been sustained from a sharp object was seen on it. The news is false and mischievous. The command, therefore, urges the general public to disregard the news and go about their lawful normal daily activities while investigation to unravel the incident will commence immediately.”

    “The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, therefore commiserates with the family of the found deceased and assures that a thorough investigation will be carried out.”

    No going back on Yoruba Nation, agitators vow
    Many of the protesters who spoke to Sunday PUNCH premised their agitation on the killings, kidnapping and destruction of farms allegedly perpetrated by herdsmen. They also bemoaned economic hardship in the country, insisting that they wanted freedom.

    One protester, Azeez Oladimeji, said, “We want Yoruba Nation; we want freedom. We are suffering, people are dying. People are dying because of hunger. We are tired; the government should let us go on our own. We want to go; please allow us to go.”

    Another, Taiwo Abiodun, said they would pursue the cause peacefully without being allowed to be intimidated by the police.

    “We need freedom. That is what we want. We want Oodua Nation. We are suffering,” he added.

    A farmer from Ondo State, Mrs Aliu Kudirat, 55, said she joined the rally to register her grievance over the invasion of her farm by herdsmen.

    She stated, “I came all the way from Ikare in Ondo State. We came in a group and arrived in Lagos yesterday (Friday). I am a farmer. I planted cassava and maize; cows destroyed them.

    “I took a loan of N150,000 from a microfinance bank to farm but I couldn’t harvest anything. I am now in debt and have five children. The Fulani herdsmen brought cows to destroy everything. We want freedom.”

    One Apostle Abiodun Alatunse, who claimed to be part of the organisers of the rally, said the call for the Yoruba Nation was informed by the government’s failure to embrace restructuring.

    He said, “We couldn’t believe Sunday Igboho’s residence would be attacked. This is a civilian government. It is totally wrong. If we have been talking about restructuring and the government has decided not to restructure, then they should let everybody go their separate way.”

    One Ishola Adesina said all the rallies the group had held in other states were peaceful while another protester, Olawale Aregbesola, described the heavy presence of armed security men at the Lagos rally as “pure intimidation.”

    “Yoruba are peace-loving people. We are not interested in bloodshed to get our freedom. Yoruba people must be free; enough of these killings, kidnappings and other atrocities going on around us. I believe so much in the Yoruba nation. Our children would ask us what we did when things were going wrong in Nigeria,” Aregbesola added.

    Protesters have no identity, says CP
    Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Odumosu, while addressing journalists on Saturday, cited non-uniformity in the appearance of the agitators as one of the reasons the police disapproved of the rally.

    He said, “We need to know the identities of the protesters. They should have a uniform. That is the only way we can identify them. We are just being security conscious and proactive.

    “Recall that on Thursday, I listed reasons why this rally must not hold. Though the organisers of the rally made frantic efforts to say it would go peacefully. You and I know what happened during the #EndSARS protest. EndSARS started peacefully but up till now, Lagos State has not been able to get out of the destruction that happened during the #EndSARS protest. They have the right to complain but the time is not ripe. The environment is not conducive enough for any rally in Lagos.”

    He said many police stations were burnt down with officers’ lives lost during the #EndSARS protest, adding that the state would not allow a repeat of such an incident.

    Copyright PUNCH.

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