Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Six rights activists were, yesterday morning, arrested by personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, before and during ‘Otoge’ rally, which was staged against killings and kidnapping in South West of Nigeria.
The rally was staged by Yoruba groups that include Yoruba Koya Leadership and Training Foundation, Voice of Reason (VOR), Citizens Right Advancement Movement, Campaign for Democracy, Committee for Defence of Human Rights, Human Right Herald, Amil Cabra School, Rocham, and Yusepo, among others.
Coordinator, Yoruba Koya Leadership and Training Foundation, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, in a telephone chat with journalists, confirmed the arrest of members of the Yoruba groups that took part in the rally by officers of the DSS.
The rally was scheduled to take place in Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara States as part of activities to commemorate the June 12 anniversary.
As soon as the people that took part in the rally were gathering for the commencement of the exercise at the junction of Oyo State Government House and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Agodi, Ibadan, personnel of DSS came and arrested two among the leaders of the rally. One of the leaders arrested by the DSS is Dr. Tunde Hamsat.
The arrest dealt a great blow to the rally as it could not start on time. But, other participants stayed behind and remobilised themselves. However, the Yoruba groups were about to start the rally when men of the DSS ordered them to disperse peacefully and that they would not be allowed to stage the rally in front of the Government House.
Members of the groups complied and decided to stage the rally elsewhere. As they were moving away from the meeting point towards Total Garden, they brought out their placards, the men of DSS, Nigerian Army and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) pounced on the participants and forcefully dispersing them. In the process, the DSS arrested another two among members of the groups and whisked them away.
One of the persons arrested during the rally is Akeem Lawal, fondly called ‘Aluta’ of the Committee for Defence of Human rights. Two among the participants that ran into Lister area opposite the secretariat of Oyo State Independent National Electoral Commission (OYSIEC), were also said to have been arrested, making a total of six persons that were allegedly arrested.
The inscriptions on the placards they displayed commended President Muhammadu Buhari for making June 12 Democracy Day, but condemned killings and kidnapping in Yorubaland by criminal suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, especially on Ibadan-Ilesha-Akure Road.
But, one of the leaders of the rally, Mr. Laoye Sanda, who is the President, Citizens Rights Advancement Movement, said efforts were being made to secure the release of the arrested members of the groups.
He said the aborted rally was organised by Federation of Human Rights Movement in Oyo State, saying the exercise was put together to demand, among other things, the immediate stoppage of killings and kidnapping by herdsmen; call on South West governors to reject proposed cattle ranches; demand true federalism; salute Simbiat Abiola, first wife of the late Chief MKO Abiola, as a role model for Nigerian women; demand replacement of Arabic script on Army logo, as well as Arabic script on Nigerian currencies with Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba languages.