A coalition of pan-Yoruba groups has attacked the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, over the police chief’s claims that members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) are planning to attack Lagos.
The groups alleged in a statement that Mr Odumosu aimed at using his claims to pit Igbos against Yorubas in the state.
The statement was signed by leaders of Oodua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC), Femi Ajibola; Agbekoya, Kunle Oshodi; Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC (Reformed), Taofik Adeyemi; Oodua Liberation Movement (OLM), Diran Obalola; Yoruba World Congress, (YWC-Lagos State Chapter), Femi Agbana.
Others are Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC-Reformed), Rasaq Arogundade; Oodua Women Coalition (OWC), Eunice Okunola; Network for Yoruba Alliance, (NENA), Goke Otunla, and Apapo Oodua Koya (AOKOYA), Ahmed Korede.
Mr Odumosu had claimed during a security town hall meeting on Monday that the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB are planning to attack “soft spots” in Lagos, an allegation the group immediately denied.
In their statement, the groups argued that rather than the announcement, the police should “discreetly go after the IPOB members to arrest them unless the police is not sure of its information.”
“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.
“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.”
The group also attacked the police for not addressing the Fulani herdsmen crisis like it is doing in the case of IPOB.
“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 before or after each horrendous killings. There was also never a time the police linked such attacks to any ethnic group.
“Only recently, Yorubas 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.
“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”.
They also urged the Yoruba people to ignore the attempts to cause ethnic conflict between Igbos and Yorubas “at this time that both ethnic groups need each other.”
“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.
“On a police plan to attack agitators for Yoruba self-determination, We urge the police to have respect for international laws and signify the basic democratic principle which is the right of a people to debate their political and economic future,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the African Action Congress (AAC), Lagos branch, in a statement on Wednesday described Mr Odumosu’s claims as “rabble-rousing.”
“We have observed very closely the utter reluctance and cowardly attitude with which Hakeem Odumosu approaches real crime issues in Lagos State and how he readily jumps to his feet to respond to his masters’ calls to quell citizens who are exercising legitimate rights that are enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the group said in the statement by its publicity secretary, Elias Ozikpu.
The party accused the police of ignoring criminals and, instead, going after groups fighting for self-determination.
“The AAC urges Nigerians to ignore the bunkum spewed by a cowardly Hakeem Odumosu, whose only achievement since assuming office as Lagos State Commissioner of Police has been the harassment and illegal arrests of unarmed peaceful protesters across Lagos.
“We further urge Nigerians to not back down in their quest for justice and freedom from an evil and blood-shedding government.”