By Dapo Akinrefon and James Ogunnaike
THE Police, yesterday, clashed with members of Ilana Omo Oodua in Abeokuta, Ogun State during a rally organised to drum-up support for the actualisation of Yoruba nation.
The group, under the leadership of Professor Banji Akintoye, is the leading organisation agitating for the emergence of Yoruba nation.
Ogun Police Command, in a statement by its spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, had banned the rally, alleging that it was being planned to destabilise the state.
But the Media and Communications Secretary of Ilana Omo Oodua, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, said the rally would go ahead, saying any attempt to stop it would be considered as a declaration of war against the rights to self-determination and peaceful Assembly of the Yoruba people.
The group has said: “We read, with total disbelief, a statement credited to the Ogun State Police Command that our Pro-Yoruba nation rally scheduled to hold in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital tomorrow will not be allowed to hold. We want to believe the statement of the police is a joke. “However, if the Police was serious about the threat, we want to let the authorities in Ogun State know that our rally will go ahead as scheduled because the police have no power under the law to deny us of our rights to self-determination and peaceful assembly.”
But at yesterday’s rally, the police, numbering about 100, besieged the front of Alake of Egba’s palace, venue of the rally, with five Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and attempted to stop the rally which was resisted by the agitators.
Adeleye alleged that 11 members of the Ilana Omo Oodua were arrested and taken to the Police Headquarters at Eleweran.
They were, however, released, when members of the organisation mobilised themselves and moved towards the Police Force Headquarters to secure the release of their fellow agitators.
One of the arrested protesters, Comrade Iyanda, who spoke to newsmen, said they were picked-up as they were about starting the rally.
The rally, led by the Secretary-General Of Ilana Omo Oodua, Mr. Opeoluwa Akinola, and the Ogun State Coordinator of the organisation, Mr. Taofeek Olawale, shut down the Abeokuta metropolis for several hours as the protesters danced around the city, singing Pro-Yoruba songs, lamenting the ordeals of the Yoruba people within the Nigerian Federation.
Addressing the crowd at Pansheke Junction, Akinola said: “Yoruba Land has been encircled and subjugated. It started immediately after the independence of 1960 and got worse when the Fulani elements introduced the federal character principle in 1967”.