Pan Yoruba Groups, an umbrella body of Yoruba Civil Society Groups have urged the Nigerian Police Force(NPF) not to set the Igbo and Yoruba people living in Lagos against each other, saying such could be untold problems into the city.
The groups said this in a press statement it issued in reaction to the statement credited to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu who alleged that some Odua groups and IPOB members wanted to attack Lagos State.
Odumosu was alleged to have made the allegation at a Stakeholders meeting organized by Lagos State government on Monday.
He was alleged to have said: “The command has taken notice of agitators for Oodua Republic by some Yoruba separatist groups and the threats to disrupt law and order in the state. Twenty four of these groups have been identified and being closely monitored. Similarly, the threat of IPOB to attack soft targets in Lagos is equally being put on the radar of the command intelligence gathering and other security services in the state. Strategies are being put in place to neutralise their activities”.
However, in a statement signed by Femi Ajibola of Oodua Nationalist Coalition, ONAC, Dr Kunle Oshodi, of Agbekoya, Alhaji Taofik Adeyemi, Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC (Reformed), and six other groups, the coalition urged the police to go ahead and arrest the culprits rather than making an allegation that can cause problems between the two ethnic groups.
The coalition who said that Odumosu is speaking for the police high command in Abuja maintained that the best thing for the police to do is to go after the culprits discreetly and arrest them. “The police statement carries the possibility of being misinterpreted as an Igbo plot against Lagos and Yoruba people. This is dangerous given the fragile nature of Nigeria”, it stated.
Below is the full text of the statement:
1) The attention of Pan Yoruba groups has been drawn to reports by the Nigerian Police Force, NPF that Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB-IGBO) are planning to attack Lagos. The Lagos State Commissioner Odumosu made the allegation in Lagos today. He speaks for the police high command in Abuja.
2) While we cherish the responsibility of the police to do their work, we are concerned about the public declaration of the alleged IPOB plans to attack Lagos by the Nigerian Police
3) We are worried that since the police already claim to be in possession of what appears to be a confidential information, the proper thing would have been to discreetly go after the IPOB members to arrest them unless the police is not sure of its information.
4) The police statement carries the possibility of being misinterpreted as an Igbo plot against Lagos and Yoruba people. This is dangerous given the fragile nature of Nigeria.
5)We are deeply concerned that the Police publicly declared allegations tempts the prospect of setting Yoruba in the South West against Igbos. This is very unfortunate at a time that state institutions are increasingly being turned to instruments for pursuing primordial ethnic interests. The Yoruba will work never to allow this to happen
6)We are concerned that terrorists and armed herdsmen of Fulani extraction have openly been attacking, kidnapping, raping and killing Yoruba people in the South West but at no time did the police call a press conference to announce such plan after before or after each horrendous killings. There was also never a time the police linked such attacks to any ethnic group.
7) Only recently, Yoruba in Mile 2 were attacked by these people, the police did not make any attempt to speak about the ethnic identity of the perpetrators yet we know they are largely from a section in the North.
8) We are concerned that the police allegation risks setting a greater danger of ethnic conflict between Igbo and Yoruba people, conscious that this will benefit a certain group who think setting Igbo against Yoruba will meet the objective of scuttling the search for peaceful self determination by the two great civilisations
9) We urge the police not to allow themselves to be used by the desperate Caliphate whose agelong dream is to divide the South and set the people against each other for its own narrow gains
10) We urge Yoruba people to ignore the conscious attempts to cause ethnic conflict between Igbo and Yoruba at this time that both ethnic groups need each other.
11) The police should avoid ethnic profiling. It is dangerous. The Pan Yoruba groups assure of our collective desire to sustain peaceful coexistence between Igbo and Yoruba and avoid any slide into ethnic conflict, an ill wind that blows no one any good. To this end, we shall set up a Committee to work out a platform to sustain ethnic harmony in Lagos.
12) On police plan to attack agitators for Yoruba self determination, We urge the police have respect for internation laws and should signify the basic democratic principle which is the right of a people to debate their political and economic future.
4) Chief Diran Obalola Oodua Liberation Movement, OLM
5) Mr Femi Agbana Yoruba World Congress, (YWC-Lagos State Chapter)
6) Mr Rasaq Arogundade, Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC-Reformed)
7) Mrs Eunice Okunola, Oodua Women Coalition, (OWC)
8) Pastor Goke Otunla, Network for Yoruba Alliance, (NENA)
9) Ahmed Korede Apapo Oodua Koya, (AOKOYA)