By Dapo Akinrefon
The apex Yoruba Diaspora Group Yoruba One Voice, YOV, on Friday, called for the release of three members of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, that handed over the kidnapping kingpin, Iskilu Wakili, to the police in March this year.
YOV, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Olori Omoladun Orolugbagbe.
The organization, which is the coalition of over 174 Yoruba groups in Diaspora, expressed worry at the way the Oyo state Commissioner of police, Ngozi Onadeko handled the case, adding that the OPC had rescued the situation in Ibarapa and its environs at a time when banditry kidnapping and killings were at an unprecedented rate in Ibarapa and its environs.
The three members of the OPC that are presently in police custody are Awodele Adedigba, Dauda Kazeem, and Hassan Ramon.
The statement reads:
“It is unfortunate that the Oyo state Commissioner of police had severally ignored the calls by well-meaning Nigerians, including the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams on the need to release the three OPC members from police custody. But rather than heed the calls, the police decided to play politics with the situation. The OPC members were transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Iyaganku, Ibadan. From there, they were taken to court.
“The police also levelled allegations of arson and murder against the three OPC members when they were taken to court. But the truth of the matter is that if the OPC members are criminals, they would not have arrested Wakili alive and still take him to the police for further investigation.
“It is also still surprising that the police had charged the three OPC members with arson and murder. The charges were done in bad faith and those of us abroad will continue to raise our voices against the unjust detention of the brave members.
Orolugbagbe, who noted that the OPC members are not criminals said they should be released.
“They should have no case to answer. They are a law-abiding citizen. They only complemented the government’s efforts at reducing the crime rate in Nigeria. The security agencies are overwhelmed and they need the support of non-state actors to strengthen the security architecture of the country. This is exactly what the OPC members did in arresting Wakili.
“For instance, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, had also made a similar call for the release of the three OPC members. He particularly accused the police of supporting Fulani against the Yoruba over the arrest of Wakili.
“Iba Adams had, on several occasions, raised the alarm over the prolonged banditry, killings, and kidnapping of some people in Ibarapa, adding that the OPC had trailed Wakilu for one month before they could arrest him alongside his gang. He said Wakili’s second in command was the first that was arrested and handed over to the police.
The OPC handed over Wakili to the police. But the police, in turn, arrested the three OPC members that took him to the station.”
The YOV publicity scribe pointed out that the call for the release of the courageous OPC members was imperative as Nigerians in Diaspora could not come back home because of the fear of being kidnapped.
She, however, urged the southwest governors, as well as other traditional rulers in the southwest to join the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland and other Nigerians to seek the unconditional release of the OPC members that are in the police custody.
The detained OPC members are responsible family men. They have done no wrong by handing over the dreaded Wakilu to the police. But whatever it is we will continue to press on the police authorities to do the needful and grant them bail immediately. Their unjust detention is a bad signal and it will affect the performances of other people who are determined to support the police and other security agencies in curbing the spate of insecurity in the country, “she said
The police had on Monday, March 8, 2021, released the three OPC members on bail. But on Monday, March 15, the police also invited them, and they were promptly re-arrested on the same Monday. They were arraigned in court on Tuesday, March 16, and they were charged with conspiracy, arson, murder, willful destruction of property and so on, which are not bailable.