By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
Men of Ogun State Police Command have arrested 11 members of the pro-Yoruba Nation agitators, who staged a peaceful protest in some major streets in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The rally was held in defiance of police order, which banned all forms of protest in the state.
The agitators, under the aegis of “Ìlàna Omo Oòdùà”, took their awareness procession from the popular Kuto garage in Abeokuta where they had converged, for an onward movement to the palace of the Alake and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, where they had planned to address their supporters.
It was observed that combined security operatives in the state had as early as 7am yesterday, took over and positioned themselves on the streets of Abeokuta metropolis for the purpose of stopping the rally.
But the well-determined ethnic agitators who had processed through Sapon Square, also passed through the Ake palace street, notwithstanding the presence of security operatives and headed towards the Adatan area of the metropolis with solitary songs blaring from the speakers attached to their moving vehicles.
The peaceful procession ,however, snowballed into violence at the Asero garage, along the Abeokuta – Ibadan road when news filtered to the organizers that security operatives had arrested 25 of their members while passing through the Ake Palace.
The agitators thereafter started destroying billboards already mounted by politicians in campaign for the forthcoming local government elections in the state and other public properties suspected to belong to governments.
Palpable tension enveloped shop owners and other market men and women when the procession eventually got to the police command headquarters at Eleweran, where security operatives dispersed them with teargas.
The development forced shop owners in the entire Eleweran community, particularly traders at the Hausa pepper, onion and yam market to hurriedly close shops and scamper for safety for fear of being caught in the crisis.
When contacted, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abimbola Oyeyemi confirmed the incident, adding that the 11 agitators earlier arrested were later released “after they had been screened and profiled”.
Oyeyemi explained that the rationale for the arrest of the 11 members of the agitators was premised on an earlier rumour that they planned to attack the traditional ruler of the town, Oba Gbadebo whenever their procession rally gets to Abeokuta.
“But despite the release of their colleagues, the agitators still threatened to attack the police headquarters in Eleweran, Abeokuta. We had no option than to disperse them with minimum force and that was why they were tear-gassed,” he said.
In a press statement issued later in the day, the agitators’ Media and Communication Secretary, Maxwell Adeleye expressed appreciation to the state’s Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun for the prompt release of their members.
“I can confirm that we have rescued all the arrested comrades.
“As the policemen saw the surging crowd of Yoruba men and women moving towards Eleweran Police Headquarters in drove, they quickly released our comrades protesting for Yoruba Self-Determination.
“It is very important to thank Police Officers who are Yoruba Indigenes for refusing to let the Hausa-Fulani Officers among them torture our patriots,” he said.