There was palpable tension in the Ake area of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, yesterday morning as agitators of the Yoruba nation defied a police ban on mass rallies and marched through the streets, with many of them taking place in front of the Palace of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo. Security operatives took over the streets of Abeokuta as early as 7 a.m. yesterday to put a stop to the rally, but the agitators, led by Ilana Omo Oodua, ignored the security intervention and marched into the streets in procession.
The procession was made up of young men and women, some of whom were heading towards Ake’s Adatan neighbourhood. Joint security operatives were seen manning strategic positions at the Ake palace, the rally’s venue, but Yoruba nation agitators, in defiance, passed through the Ake palace lane, singing solidarity songs blared loudly from speakers attached to their moving vehicles. However, a fast response from the State Police Command and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) kept the agitators from posing a danger to the monarch and his palace.
Eleven of the agitators were apprehended and taken away, including a young man named Zannu Williams, who was dressed in traditional garb. Abimbola Oyeyemi, the State Police Public Relations Officer, informed The Nation that the police acted quickly to arrest the agitators in order to protect the king and the Palace. Abimbola, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), recalled that Yoruba nation agitators had threatened the Alake of Egbaland with harm in a viral video, saying that under such circumstances, police operatives would not wait until the citizens carried out the earlier threat before performing their duty of securing lives and property.
The Police Spokesman, on the other hand, claimed that those arrested were later released on the orders of the Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun. He went on to say that after they were dispersed, the agitators attempted to cause trouble at the State Police Headquarters in Eleweran, but were repulsed and dispersed. Normalcy, he said, had returned. The Police Command had previously banned the agitators from the mass rally, claiming that an intelligence report revealed that the rally’s organisers “are being financed by some individuals outside the state and the nation to destabilise Ogun State.”
The Command’s Spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said in a statement on Thursday night in Abeokuta that supporters of the Yoruba nation had conducted a series of rallies across the state, but the command would not stand by and watch public conducts of some people “keep others to ransom and threaten the corporate life of the country.” “The Command therefore wishes to appeal to the leaders of this party to shelve the idea of holding another public rally in any part of the state for the time being, as such is capable of disrupting the relative peace that the entire state is enjoying,” he added.
“As a result, the rally scheduled for Abeokuta on May 1, 2021, is considered by the Command as one too many in the state and, as such, is not authorised. Parents and guardians are hereby advised to caution their children and wards not to participate in any such gatherings that could expose them to violence and, as a result, put them in conflict with security agencies.” The agitators, on the other hand, have promised not to cancel the rally.