Agitators for the independence of the Yoruba nation from Nigeria, yesterday, in Osun State, braved heavy security presence deployed to strategic points, as they marched through streets of Osogbo, the state capital, chanting various solidarity and liberation songs while displaying Oodua flags.
The protesters were drawn from various groups across the Southwestern states, among which are Ilana Omo Oodua and Isokan Omo Oodua, and Kwara, Kogi, Delta and Edo states.
Dressed in various outfits, the agitators demonstrated and marched from the November 27 bridge in the Africa area to the convergence point at Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo for the rally.
As they approached the Freedom Park, they were undeterred by the presence of men of the Department of State Service (DSS), Nigeria Police Force, Joint Task Force, Nigerian Army, Amotekun and other local operatives.
After spending over two hours at the rally venue, they marched to the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun’s palace to pay homage.
The tension in Osogbo ahead of the rally had heightened earlier when Sunday Adeyemo, a self-professed Yoruba freedom fighter, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, arrived in a convoy to join the protesters.
Addressing the agitators, Adeyemo declared that the actualisation of Yoruba nation is an idea whose time has come and that Yoruba rights to self-determination are inalienable.
He claimed that the Yoruba people were being marginalised and short-changed; adding that Yoruba would boycott elections in 2023 in the country should the Nigerian government fail to allow them to secede.
The Yoruba freedom fighter gave the Oyo State government and the Nigeria Police, Oyo command, a week ultimatum to release members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) arrested in Ibarapa recently.
He said should they fail to accede to the demand, he would mobilise Yoruba people in protest.
He thanked all the Southwest governors for declaring support for the agitation and called on the Yoruba people to be united so their dream of breaking away from Nigeria can be actualised.
Speaking in Yoruba language, Adeyemo said: “The Nigerian governments are deceiving us and oppressing us. All key positions have been taken over by the Hausa-Fulani people. We the Yoruba are tired of being enslaved and cheated. We thank Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola for allowing us to gather peacefully to demand for the Yoruba Nation. We also thank the Ataoja of Osogbo for believing in and supporting us. The Ataoja told us that he could not open his eyes and watch the Fulani keep oppressing his people. Also, we are grateful to the Alaafin of Oyo, Alake of Egbaland, our fathers, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and Prof. Seth Akintoye, for their support.
“We are not happy because, in spite of the fact that the Fulani and Hausa people are the ones benefiting from Nigeria, they have been killing our people. We are being marginalised. Therefore, we don’t want to belong to Nigeria again. We are happy that our governors are now speaking up. We know they are behind us.
“We insist that there would be no election in Yoruba Land until we are given Yoruba Nation. They (Nigerian Government) thought we are joking with them; we will let them know how serious we are. In Libya, no matter how impoverished you are, you will own a car and house but what do we see in this country, abject poverty everywhere. We have limitless mineral resources, yet we are suffering. There is no going back on our agitation for the freedom of the Yoruba nation,” he declared.
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of Ilana Omo Oodua, Arc. George Akinola, and Head of Youth Development of the group, Dr. Akin Adejuwon called on Yoruba youths to join the movement for the agitation of the Yoruba nation, stressing that Nigeria couldn’t continue to be united.
Adejuwon, a cultural studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said the rally was to enlighten youths to fight for their freedom and that of the Yoruba People.
Meanwhile, the Itsekiri people, who joined the rally in Osogbo, asked the Federal Government to conduct a referendum and allow those demanding secession to be free.
The Director of Mobilisation, Itsekiri National Youth Council in Edo State, Comrade S. O. Nesiangho, disclosed that the Niger Deltans are with Yoruba Nation, adding: “We are in full support of the Yoruba nation. We are tired of the suffering in this country. We are going with the Yoruba People.”
But the newly inaugurated executive Ijaw National Congress (INC) has warned secessionists and those clamouring for a separate republic that the Ijaw are not part of either Biafra or Oduduwa Republic, saying that the Ijaw have never been conquered.
The new INC President, Benjamin Okaba, who spoke during the inauguration of the new executive of the Ijaw apex body in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said the Ijaw remain part of present-day Nigeria until they decide to leave if they are no longer comfortable with the present arrangement.
Okaba, who stated that INC would collaborate with other ethnic minorities that share the same experiences with the Ijaws to achieve their dreams, said the ethnic group was aware of surreptitious moves by some groups to annex territories in the Niger Delta because of its resources, but that no part of Ijaw would be ceded or conquered.
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