Pan Yoruba groups rally for self-determination, condemn terrorism
………says South West farmers lost $1billion to armed herdsmen
By Samuel Ogunsona
Several Pan Yoruba groups on Monday staged a peaceful protest in Lagos calling for an end to the siege on indigenous communities by armed groups in all the South West states.Irohinoodua was at the event.
The groups said in the past three years, Yoruba farmers have lost no fewer than $1b worth of farm produce to activities of armed bandits who either kill, kidnap, rape or chase farmers from their farms.
Organised under the banner of Omoodua Ronu, thousands of protesters occupied the Beko Memorial Park in Lagos. The protesters dared heavily armed policemen than stormed the venue but failed to stop the protesters.
The organisers said some of the participants at the protest came from the six South West States including Kwara, Kogi and Itsekiri areas of Delta State.
The protesters displayed several placards calling on the Federal Government to put an end to terrorism in Yorubaland or risk further mass protests.
‘The basis of this protest is to register the grievances of Yoruba people across the country on the prevailing state of siege and violence across the South West territories. Our people are tired of the state of terror in the land. The least we can do is to register our grievances through peaceful protest’, Hon Wale Osun, leader of Afenifere Renewal Group, (ARG) invited to speak at the event said.
Some of the displayed placards read ‘End Terrorism or Risk Public Uprising’; ‘We support Yoruba Autonomy’: ‘State Police Now’; ‘Fatherland or Death’; ‘United Nations Supports Self-Determination,’ ‘Yoruba Self Determination Now.’
Mr Dr Tunde Akin-Ariyo representing the Apapo O’odua Koya, (AOKOYA) said Yoruba farmers have lost close to $1b due to the destruction of their farmlands, killings amidst armed invasion of Yoruba forests. He sad the June 12 speech of President Mohammadu Buhari failed to address the growing atmosphere of violence especially few days after some 20 people were killed in Iganna by suspected herdsmen.
Ariyo said the people of the South West must never allow themselves to be used to start attacking Igbos or any tribe in the Yoruba areas.
“We shall work to unite Igbo and Yoruba and all ethnic groups fighting for justice in Nigeria. Gone are those days that Yoruba will be set against our Eastern brothers” he said.
He said ‘We did a research that confirms that Yoruba farmers have lost farm produce in the range of $1b in the past three years. Economic trees are being destroyed, farmers are killed or kidnapped and harvests are completely destroyed by cows. There is the loss of genetic resources running into billions in cash. The destruction and burning of Yoruba forests by the bandits has brought ruin to many farmers.’ Ariyo said cash collected from Yoruba people by kidnappers in the past 10 years is more than N1b.
The President of Agbekoya, Dr Kunle Oshodi said the people of the South West are being pushed to the extreme warning that if nothing is done to deal with terrorism, most people will be left to resort to self-defence in order to protect themselves and their livelihood.
Some members of the coalition are Agbekoya, O’odua Liberation Movement, (OLM), O’odua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC), Apapo O’odua Koya, (AOKOYA), O’odua People’s Congress, (OPC), Covenant Group, Network of Yoruba Alliance, (NENA), South West Youth Development Council, (SWYDC), National Council of Itsekiri Youths, (NCIY) amongst others.
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