By Christopher Oji and Lukman Olabiyi
A yet-to-be-identified male adult has been confirmed dead in a clash between Yoruba Nation agitators and the police in the Ojota area of Lagos yesterday.
The agitators had at the early hours of yesterday, gathered at Gani Fawehimi Garden at Ojota with flags with inscriptions of Oodua Nation, and calling for the Federal Government to allow them to go on a separate way as they were nolonger interested in Nigeria.
Trouble started when the fully armed agitators, saw the police coming to confront them, and opened fire on the police, who engaged them in a gun duel that lasted for about 30 minutes.
A witness,John Nwokedike, told Daily Sun, that, “It was like an Armageddom, as the police, and the Oodua Nation agitators, were shooting at themselves. We took to our heels. I abandoned my vehicle, and ran for cover. Some people were killed, either during the pandemonium, or by strey bullets.
The Police have taken over the place, so we won’t be able to know how many people that died”.
Another witness, Wasiu Salami, told Daily Sun, that some agitators came out to demand for Yoruba Nation amongst others,and the police came out to curtail them, leading to a clash.
Salami continued that shortly after the agitators arrived the scene, the police came out in procession with a detachment of personnel from the Rapid Response Squad, State Taskforce, and conventional police, with the aim of dispersing the protesters, and started shooting teargas into the crowd which led to the clash. The fully armed agitators, opened fire on the police.
The cross firing caused pandemonium,as commuters ran for safety, while some motorists fled and abandoned their vehicles on the road.
A Police source, confirmed that five suspected agitators were already in police custody.
The police source who spoke on anonymity as he was not supposed to speak with the press, said that a police officer, SP Akinwunmi Oke, was shot by the agitators, “Oke, the Operation Officer attached to the state Rapid Response Squad, is an anti-riot officer, known for restoring peace at any assigned area, was shot by the agitators, and he is receiving treatment in a police hospital.”
However, Lagos State Police Publlic Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the attack on policemen by Yoruba nation agitators.
The PPRO, said that over 200 of the agitators gathered at Gani Fawehimi Garden, Ojota, and the police went to disperse them, but the agitators opened fire on the police.
There was a shootout between the police, and the agitators. One person who was dressed with charms round hos body died during the encounter.
Two vehicles were burnt by the agitators, while one was abandoned by the owner. Really they didn’t take permission from us, because they know that there is no way we would have granted the permission.
“We are on ground as we have dispersed the agitators, and taken over the place. Our men are on ground, including RRS personnel. I will advise the public to go about their normal duties as we have taken over the public spaces.”
Meanwhile, Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, who is also the national coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), has distanced the group from the incident.
Speaking against the backdrops of the information making the rounds that members of the OPC were part of the groups that organized the rally, Adams in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Aderemi, said the Ojota rally came as a surprise, and it kept everybody unawares, adding that none of his members was part of the crisis.
“Let me clear the air on the crisis that had engulfed Ojota this morning.
“OPC is not against the liberation of Yoruba race, however, it is a fact that the struggle for the liberation of Yoruba race is an inalienable right of all Yoruba to champion self determination. We are not part of the peaceful rally held in Ojota.
“Our position on regionalism is very clear.It is sacrosanct, because that is what we are seeking at the moment.
Also, the apex Yoruba self-determination organisation, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide (IOOW) Secretariat has condemned the alleged attack by security agencies on the Yoruba nation agitators
General Secretary (Interim), IOOW, Prince Kunle Adelakun Eruobodo, in a statement alleged that the security agencies killed two persons, who were ardent supporters of Yoruba nation agitation of the group during the rally.
His words: “The attack by the Nigeria security agencies on peaceful rally in which two members of the Yoruba nation were killed has indicated that Nigeria government does not respect the international laws and the United Nations Charter on the right of the indigenous people for self determination.
“This act of bullying is totally absurd and animalistic. We are seizing this medium to appeal to the international community to come to our aid.
As Yoruba Nation we are naturally a peaceful people. We would never bow down to injustice, oppression and bullying of our dear people.