Posted by News Express | 4 July 2021 | 1,349 times
Leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, speaks with BBC News Pidgin on the recent attack on the private residence of Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, by men of the Department of State Service (SSS), among other issues. Excerpts.
You have seen what has been going on?
Yes I have and it is a sad day for me and the entire Yoruba land.
But what was your thought when you heard that the invasion was carried out by the DSS?
Immediately I saw the video, I wrote a statement because the incident reminded me of the [Sani] Abacha days when NADECO and Afenifere were opposed to his administration and he decided to kill all of us. They attacked the houses of NADECO members. They bombed the house of General [Alani] Akinrinade; they killed [Chief Alfred] Rewane and even attempted to kill Baba [Abraham] Adesanya. Some of us then could only escape narrowly. So when I heard this recent attack, I said this couldn’t have come except by a decisive action and I have been saying it before that General Buhari’s administration has a hidden agenda to ‘Fulanise’ this country. Now from the statement that we heard today, the DSS said they heard information that he (Sunday Adeyemo) had arms in his house.
But to be fair enough, they ought to go there and issue a search warrant to him and do their job.
Even if there is something you have to find in the house, does this mean that you have to break into his house? That should show you the evil intention they have to kill everybody there. Is that the job of a democratic government? If you have a criminal, you go and arrest and prosecute him. And then, you allow the laws to take its course in a country that operates by a constitutional democracy. Yes, they might say that they have some information, but remember that this was how they killed about 800 Christians on Christmas Eve in December, 2018 in Southern Kaduna. It is on record. At that time, he sent the vice-president to stop the crisis that was happening in the region. But the following day, the thing (killing of Christians) happened. But he (President Buhari) never sent the Army and the DSS after the culprits (killers of the Christians).
After that, they went to Agatu, in Benue and killed about 800 people there too. But [Governor Samuel] Ortom went to General Buhari for help. He told him that he (Ortom) knew the attackers; Ortom even showed the president the letter they (the attackers) brought, claiming that they own Benue’s land. But the president never sent the DSS and the Army after the assailants. He did not even declare the leaders of the gangs wanted. For years, we have been crying that these Fulani herdsmen are carrying arms and AK-47 rifles, but nothing has been done to them. We have told him many times how these people wreak havoc in the whole of the country, kidnapping, raping and depriving farmers of their lands. All these while that we have been shouting, he regarded our cries as those of the opposition.
But now, the whole governors in the South, both from the APC and the PDP, came out with the declaration that the unrest in their states is as a result of the Fulani herdsmen doing open grazing. And they passed a law that it should be stopped. Then, they asked the president for a dialogue to stop all the things, but he just ignored them. Instead, he said he was going to bring back an old law, which all the lawyers in the country have said doesn’t exist. They asked him to produce the gazette, but he gave nothing. They told him that open grazing is causing insecurity. He said anyone talking about restructuring should forget it. That is the cause of the problem now.
And I say that he (the president) is not interested in a united Nigeria in peace. He is only pursuing Fulani domination. It is unfortunate. Even some elements I respect like the Sultan of Sokoto recently said in the newspaper that there is freedom of movement throughout Nigeria, in the market and in the forest. You see that as opposing what Akeredolu said in driving away [armed] Fulani herdsmen from Ondo that they are occupying his forest reserves. Buhari is now being backed by the Sultan, encouraging the people (Fulani herders) that they have the freedom to go anywhere in Nigeria. Are there no forests in the North? All this is just to show you that the game plan is to Fulanise Nigeria, not to have everyone together in peace. And the people that say they are asking for restructuring, say it is for peace. All we are saying is send us back to federalism that we had at independence. This federalism we are talking about was agreed to by the founding fathers of this nation: the Sardauna, Azikwe, Awolowo. I am a living witness. They had the agreement in 1954 in London. It was partially implemented in 1957 when the East and the West were granted independence, with their constitution written separately. These are the backgrounds that we had. That should tell you that we are now under siege in the West.
I am sure you must have read or listened to the statement of the DSS in which they accused Mr Sunday Igboho of stockpiling arms, citing this as the reasons they raided his home, which led to the killings. What do you make of that?
That is arrant nonsense. Is that how to do a constitutional democracy, invading someone’s house in the middle of the night? The dictatorial tendency of this administration has been long. That was the way they invaded the houses of judges that they said they were looking for corrupt judges. I’m not saying they couldn’t do this. But there is a democratic procedure that ought to be followed. Take a look at when he ordered the military to shoot-at-sight. I criticized him Buhari) then that such is not done in a democracy, because it is a reckless statement to kill off the opposition. When they kill me now and said they found an AK-47 gun with me, who will bear my witness? Can a dead man talk? And again, whatever arms you say this man (Igboho) is carrying, have you meted out the same treatment to the Fulani people wreaking havoc on us? That is a partisan and nepotistic way of bullying this country!
I have given you the instance of Ortom that begged for the president [Buhari’s] help to save his people from attackers, but he (Buhari) didn’t send the army to defend these people. That is the point I am making. Why is it only on Igboho, who has been known to be clamouring for self-government for his people? He has his own nature. He may be wrong, as I don’t agree with violence. But all he has been saying is give us independence. Is there no freedom of movement and association in this country? If he (Igboho) has committed any crime as they have alleged, that is not the way to prosecute him, because it is not the way he (President Buhari) has acted with people who are his ethnic nationality [who are accused of similar things]. Mind you, this is what Danjuma said before that what the government is doing is ethnic cleansing, coming out in various ways. When bandits were rampaging the people of Southern Kaduna and the Agatus, the man didn’t do anything because the attacked people were not Fulanis. But when all these people reacted on their own, he said they were attacking the Fulanis. But he doesn’t address the actions that are causing the reactions.
Even when they said they found arms in his house, have you forgotten that this was a man who knows that when the Fulani attack him and his people, you will turn a blind eye to them? So, he prepared himself for people that he knew would come to attack him and would not be apprehended. So that response is not the best act from the DSS because that is not how they have been acting. Even when Ortom went to the president not once or thrice to plead that herders are killing his people and driving them out of their lands, the president never acted as he did. Boko Haram has been attacking the people, yet the president didn’t act the way he has just acted. But it is the local people who are resisting his tyranny that he has been actively fighting against. He acted very decisively to arrest Kanu, who out of the oppression in the country, calls for self-determination for his people. His tribe has been largely excluded from the government which is obvious. The Buhari plan is deliberate and that is why the security architecture in the country is dominated by the Fulanis. And that is also why he has refused to change his attack on the opposition and critics.
Speaking of the re-arrest of Kanu, the leader of IPOB, we had an interview with the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam El-Rufai, where he said that the bandits don’t have a centralised leader like IPOB and shouldn’t be compared with the Eastern group. How will you react to this?
He is just speaking trash. I have given you instances of Ortom, a governor of a state whose people were attacked and displaced. He came to the president and said he had the list of the attackers. But the president turned a blind eye. It is a pure deliberate action and even on the question of the open grazing that is causing the whole confusion now, the entire governors including those in the North condemned the act. But the president said no and that he has a law, which has now encouraged attackers to go about with their arms more. That’s how you should look at it. There is no even dispensation of justice to all the alleged criminals in the country. Now, he is dealing with Igboho. But has he dealt with the Fulani herders like that despite the open evidence? And can he explain why all the security architecture of the country is in the hands of the Fulanis?
Even when the whole governors from the South asked for some protection to have their own state police, the president said they can’t carry arms. Yet, the people the state policemen will fight against are carrying arms. You can see that it’s been all a game and he (President Buhari) has a global intention to Fulanise Nigeria. When he came into power in 2015 and people were shouting that those attacking them are Fulanis, he (Buhari) said no, the attackers are not Fulani. But when the whole crisis became full-blown and glaring for all to see, he came back and said though the attackers are Fulani, they are not those of Nigeria, which means they are foreigners. And then I asked, how did the foreigners enter our country? He is the number one security officer in Nigeria who is in charge of even the security of our borders. So, he can’t say he doesn’t know how the foreigners came in. Even when they came in and were discovered to be foreigners, will you now say that because they are foreigners, you can’t arrest them even when they are criminals? Even when the governor of Niger State cried out that the attackers had invaded his areas, chased away the local government and hoisted their own flag in place of the national flag, Buhari being the Commander-in-Chief of the country, said nothing. These are all open evidence, except if anybody wants to deny them.
I know you have been a very vocal person on the quest for restructuring. But from all indications now, it doesn’t seem as the government of the day is keen on restructuring. Are you still pursuing this or going for the Yoruba nation secession?
If you would remember vividly that the last time I spoke on this issue, I said I don’t support secession. And I don’t oppose it either. And this is because the agitation of those calling for secession is based on what Buhari is doing now to our people. And it is the youths who are suffering from unemployment, police oppression and discrimination under Buhari. And the power he (the president) is using to oppress us is from the constitution, which was imposed on us by the military. It was [General] Abdusalam Abubakar, a military man that wrote this constitution. He is still alive and can’t deny this. We then said, if you don’t want to go back to the constitution we all agreed to, let us have a dialogue to agree on what to do, but the president refused. The entire Southern governors called for the same dialogue because we are all peaceful people. But what has been giving rise to the like of Igboho and Kanu is the president’s refusal of peaceful dialogue.
I have told him many times that if Nigeria is restructured back to federalism and we have our state police and local government autonomy, all the agitations will die down. But has he considered such an idea? He keeps negotiating with bandits, encouraging them to collect ransom. But he can’t negotiate with citizens who are clamouring for justice. If you are really sincere, these are the issues you should examine. The president cannot tell us that we want to break this country, because it is not possible. We, the Yorubas, particularly, have invested and fought for the unity of this country. When the crisis came in 1953, the Northern governors said they were no longer interested in being part of Nigeria. It was chief Awolowo who convinced him to come back to the federation and that if we had a federal constitution, they would have the autonomy and all regions would develop at their own pace. And this was what we had at independence until the military did its subject.
This is how you should examine our problem. In fact, the international community should look at that and find out whether we are just agitators or legitimate people clamouring for peace. Buhari is just bamboozling everybody, saying if you do this, you don’t want Nigeria. But it is he who is provoking everybody to war and all he is doing now is intentional. He wants to provoke the West and other parts of the country to react, so that he can declare a state of emergency which will definitely extend his tenure as it won’t allow any election. If it is not so, why is he reluctant to have dialogue?
The whole country has said that we don’t want the constitution because it is not our own, but he keeps saying if we want to change it, we should go to the National Assembly, which itself is a product of the same fraudulent constitution. How can a beneficiary of a fraud change the fraud? We are not fools. We are appealing to the international community that we in the West and South are now under a tyrant that is killing every opposition. And that is exactly what is happening to Igboho. (Sunday Tribune)
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