A coalition under the aegis of the Yoruba Appraisal Forum (YAF), Friday, decried the ban on and the stoppage of its peace rally/sensitisation Motorcade by the police in the state.
YAF expressed regret that the police in the state could not distinguish between it and other groups claiming to be championing Yoruba self-determination and independence with the disguised objective of destabilising the country.
It noted that its objectives and consistent campaigns for peace throughout Yorubaland, the South-West and all over Nigeria had been misunderstood and misconstrued by the police, which had also misrepresented YAF to the public as one of those groups claiming to be agitating for the creation of a Yoruba nation and the disintegration of the Nigerian state.
On Thursday, Lagos Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, had in a statement warned that the police would deal with YAF members should the group go ahead with today’s scheduled Peace Rally/Sensitisation Motorcade planned to hold at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota.
But YAF national coordinator, Adeshina Animashaun, in a statement Friday in Abuja, said contrary to the police misrepresentation of the group, it has consistently campaigned for peace in Yorubaland and Nigeria at large and had never been found to have been involved in any violence in the course of its numerous sensitisation activities throughout the South-west states.
Animashaun stressed that YAF has no affiliation with any individual or groups championing the disintegration and dissolution of Nigeria under the guise of agitating for a Yoruba Nation.
According to the YAF statement made available to newsmen in Lagos on Friday, “Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have bothered to offer any response to the Lagos State Police Command’s stoppage of our planned peace rally/Sensitisation Motorcade earlier scheduled to hold today, Friday, July 16, 2021, at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, Lagos, but for the manifest misinformation and misrepresentation contained in a statement on the matter by the state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi.
“Firstly, we have to quickly state that YAF has nothing to do with the Yoruba Nation agitators. We’re a law-abiding coalition of other Yoruba groups under the aegis of Yoruba Appraisal Forum, whose main objective remains peace advocacy throughout Yorubaland and all over Nigeria.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that YAF is not affiliated to any group or individuals promoting or championing the disintegration or dismemberment of the Nigerian Federation.
“We are not agitators but peace makers, campaigning to dissuade our youths from threading the destructive path to violence being championed by individuals and groups masquerading as fighters for Yoruba freedom, independence and self-determination.
“We believe in the unity and indivisibility of the Nigerian nation. It’s unfortunate that the police misunderstood and misconstrued our peace rally/Sensitisation Motorcade.
“We want to state here YAF had held this same peace rally/sensitisation motorcade in all the other states in the South-West in the past few months without any record of any untoward occurrence.
“If we were like the other so-called Yoruba groups agitating for the disintegration and dissolution of Nigeria, we wouldn’t have sought permission of the Nigeria Police and the DSS to carry out the peace rally/sensitisation motorcade, and even invite these security agencies to send some of their operatives to the venue to provide adequate security against hoodlums.
“The PPRO has, therefore, woefully failed to separate the wheat from the chaff by his wholesale tagging of YAF as a Yoruba Nation agitator group in his Thursday’s statement. This is unfortunate and unacceptable.
“YAF is, however, not deterred by the current situation. Infact, this police action against us has served to further encourage us not to relent in our consistent struggle for Peace throughout Yorubaland and all over our dear country, Nigeria.
“YAF believes there is no better time than now for all hands to be on deck for peace in Yorubaland, the South-West and the entire Nigerian nation.”
The Forum also advised South-West youths against breaching the existing peace in the region and aiding certain groups and individuals acting under the guise of agitating for an independent Yoruba nation to destabilise the region.
YAF said Yoruba youths should exercise great caution and vigilance to avoid aiding unknowingly or being used surreptitiously to destabilise the country by unpatriotic groups and individuals claiming to be fighting for an independent Yoruba nation.
The Forum warned Yoruba youths that partaking in any unpatriotic activity, knowingly or unknowingly, could have serious consequences for them as individuals, the South-West and Nigeria as a whole.
Rather, it enjoined them to ceaselessly and tirelessly work to ensure peace reigns supreme throughout Yorubaland, the South-West and the entire Nigerian nation.
YAF advised Yoruba to maintain peace and eschew violence, urging the people of the South-West not to be deceived by those claiming to be fighting Yoruba cause.
It also appealed to the government, the various security agencies and other major stakeholders in Yorubaland to rise to the challenge and ensure no individual or group violates the peace or instigate violence in the South-west.
The Forum, therefore, advised the Federal Government and the governors of the six South-west states to ensure the deployment of adequate number of security agents throughout the region and Yorubaland to tighten security and forestall any plan by any group or individuals to instigate violence and cause chaos and destruction in the area.
It further enjoined all well-meaning Yoruba youths to join hands in maintaining peace and opposing terrorism and agitation for secession by groups or individuals masquerading to cause chaos and endanger the lives and property of people of the South West and indeed Nigeria.
The Forum’s national coordinator’s statement added, “We are a law-abiding and patriotic organisation whose major objective is the unity of all Nigerians under a very peaceful and progressive atmosphere. We cannot fold our arms and watch a few criminals in the name of secession to unleash terror in the South West. We must collectively strive to ensure peace in our South-West homestead and our dear country as a whole.