From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Ogun State Police Command on Saturday arrested 11 Yoruba secession agitators who defied the police ban on a mass rally in Abeokuta.
The rally held jointly by two groups – Ilana Omo Oduduwa and Omo Kootu Ojire Omo Oduduwa Atata – took their procession around Abeokuta in defiance of a police order barring the demonstration.
As early as 7 am on Saturday, our correspondent observed that security operatives took over the streets of Abeokuta in order to stop the rally.
A police helicopter was also sighted hovering over some areas in the state capital.
When Sun News Online visited the palace of the Alake of Egbaland, venue of the rally, it observed joint security operatives manning strategic positions on the street. The team was led by the Area Commander of Adatan, Ayo Edun.
A young man wearing ritual gear along with 10 others were arrested in front of the palace and whisked away in a police van to the state’s police headquarters in Eleweran, Abeokuta.
Singing solitary songs, the procession comprising of young men and women toured Abeokuta and later headed to the police headquarters, where leaders of the group reportedly demanded the release of the arrested activists.
There was a clash between the agitators and the police officers around Eleweran when the advocates for secession demanded the release of their members.
The police later released those arrested on the order of the Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun.
Our correspondent also learnt that the agitators, on their way back from Eleweran, allegedly attacked some policemen on the road, injuring a number of them.
Speaking with reporters, the publicity secretary of Omo Kootu Ojire Omo Oduduwa Atata, Mr Ibukunoluwa John, described the rally as peaceful and violence-free.
‘The rally started exactly 9 am and ended 4:30 pm without violence. We were not part of any violence or hijacking of police rifles,’ he stated.
‘We want to tell the public that we are not part of anything that is violent today. We had our rally. It was peaceful and nothing like violence.’
Police spokesman DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, however, accused the protesters of launching unprovoked attacks on security operatives.
Oyeyemi said the demonstrators attacked the police headquarters in the state and some policemen on duty.
He confirmed that eleven of them were earlier arrested for unruly behaviour at the Alake’s palace and were later released on the order of the Commissioner of Police.
The spokesman lamented that despite the release of their members, the agitators still went ahead to attack their men at Moore Junction, not far from the headquarters after launching attacks at the police headquarters.
‘We just woke up early in the morning and saw some group of people in front of the Alake’s palace conducting themselves in an unruly manner. And don’t forget that one of them had issued a threat to the Alake before. So, our men went there to challenge them and they were unable to give satisfactory answer.
‘Eleven of them were arrested and the Commissioner of Police directed that they should be released. We profiled, screened and released them. Despite that we released them on the order of the Commissioner of Police, these people still went as far as police headquarters Eleweran to launch an attack on police.
‘Though we have already dispersed them, they still attacked our men at Moore Junction. They attacked policemen who were on their lawful duty; they attacked them for just no reason .
‘We are sounding a note of warning to them. They are trying to provoke law enforcement agents, they should be warned that we are law enforcement agents, we are holding our peace because we are following the rules of engagement and we don’t want to engage in an unnecessary show of force with some people.
‘They should not take our civility for a licence for them to be attacking our men, it will no long be tolerated.
‘We are still collating the result of their unruly behaviour and I will make that one available,’ Oyeyemi stated.