Moshood Adebayo, Lukman Olabiyi, Laide Raheem, Abeokuta, Clement Adeyi, Osogbo, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure, Kehinde Adewole, Ado Ekiti and Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Entire South West region was agog yesterday as hundreds of people trooped out for the Yoruba World Congress Solidarity Walk in support of Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) otherwise known as Amotekun.
Apart from Lagos, where security agencies sealed up the Gani Fawehinmi Park venue and drove away marchers, the programme recorded a huge success across the other five states in the region.
In Ado Ekiti, a pastor and members of hunters as well as men of Oodua People’s Congress led the rally to actualise the security outfit.
Members of Vigilance Group of Nigeria, Yoruba Koya, Man ‘O War, Oodua Union, Ekiti Council of Elders and Agbekoya also featured in the walk.
The police and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) provided heavy cover for the participants.
Speaking at the rally, Pastor Praise Ayodele, said: “Amotekun has come to stay in the South West. We are not fighting anybody. The security of our people is very important. We are to do this to support our governors that we are happy with Amotekun.
Also, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Internal Security and former speaker of House of Assembly, Dele Olugbemi, said: “Amotekun is for easy identification of all visitors to Ekiti and South West.”
Coordinator of Oodua Union, Femi Robinson, said the collapse of security architecture in the country has made local security imperative.
Leaders of Agbekoya and Vigillance Group of Nigeria, Sunday Omoyajowo and Mrs Suwebat Aliu respectively, said Yoruba maintained a united front on Amotekun and that nothing will change the stand.
Leader of the delegation of Ekiti Council of Elders, Chief Niyi Ajubulu, regretted that people can no longer move around as a result of increased insecurity.
Members of different solidarity groups, in Osogbo, Osun State, trooped to the Freedom Park as early as 9am with placards of various inscriptions:
Chairman, Yoruba World Congress, Osun State chapter and convener of the rally, Akin Adejuwon, said the exercise was aimed at creating awareness, mobilise people and inform them that Amotekun had come to stay and there was no going back.
Another leader of Yoruba World Congress, Sola Fatokun, stressed that state policing had become inevitable to be able to tackle the increasing spate of insecurity challenges in the country.
Amidst tight security, the Panseke Park, Abeokuta, had in attendance 14 pan-Yoruba groups and associations.
Prior to the kick off of the walk, Commissioner of Police in the state, Kenneth Ebrimson, explained that policemen were deployed to the scene not to stop the walk, but to prevent it from being hijacked by unscrupulous elements.
Chairman, Coordinating Committee of Amotekun Solidarity Walks, Ogun State, Jimoh Olawale Taofeek, said the walks across the six states were to agitate the actualisation of Amotekun.
He argued that if similar security outfits were allowed in the northern part of the country, Amotekun should be allowed to operate in the South West.
In their separate remarks, coordinators of Oduduwa Group and Oodua United Peoples Association, Adesina Razaq and Ola Bello, said the walk was to send a message that South West was united in its quest to ensure security of its people.
Also, National Secretary of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Yinka Folarin, said Amotekun was designed to secure the South West states in collaboration with security agencies.
Meanwhile, the hope of the organisers in Lagos was dashed as the police aborted the rally earlier billed for the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Part, Ojota, Lagos.
The pro-Amotekun protesters, who arrived the venue as early as 7am. were shocked to meet scores of security personnel, including police, DSS and other security agencies at the square on arrival.
The security personnel, with about 30 operational vehicles, barricaded the park where the rally, organised by Yoruba World Congress, was to hold.
Reacting to the development, George Akinola, who addressed newsmen within the precinct of the park, said: “The rally is in support of the governors of the South West states, including Kwara and Kogi, who have decided to set up a protective force, called Amotekun.
Also, Director of Media and Communication, Yoruba World Congress, who also addressed newsmen, Mathew Adeyemi Adeleye, lamented the disruption of the rally by the police and other security agencies.
Ondo State Governor and Chairman, South West Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday, insisted that Amotekun has come to stay in spite of pressure by the Federal Government.
Addressing members of the Yoruba World Congress (YWC) comprising of different pressure groups during a solidarity rally by the group in Akure, Akeredolu, who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Gbenga Ale, said the six governors of the South West region have resolved not to bow to pressure from any quarter on the new security outfit.
The solidarity rally in Ibadan was peaceful amidst tight security.
Hundreds of farmers, local hunters, clerics, social activists, local drummers, as well as a musical band had converged on the Remembrance Arcade in front of Oyo State Government House, Oke Oyinbo, Agodi, Ibadan for the rally. Participants started trooping in as early as 9a.m but the walk did not start until noon.
The participants, led by Chief Security Officer of Yoruba World Congress (YWC), Evangelist Kunle Adesokan, who is the chairman, Coordinating Unit of Amotekun Solidarity Rally in Oyo State, were drawn from dozens of socio-cultural, religious and political organisations.