A 14-year-old girl identified as Jumoke was yesterday shot dead in Lagos when stray bullets from sporadic shootings by some operatives deployed by the Lagos State Police command to the area to ensure that the Yoruba nation rally was not hijacked by hoodlums allegedly hit her while selling ice cream at her shop.
Separatists clamouring for Yoruba nation led by Chief Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho and others had defied warnings and heavy security presence by the Lagos State Command and other security agencies to embark on pockets of protests at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park located in Ojota area of the state, demanding for secession of the Yoruba race from Nigeria.
The protest, which started with singing and chanting of solidarity songs, was infiltrated by hoodlums and got rowdy, compelling the police to engage in sporadic gunshots and throwing tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Our correspondent said the body of the girl was drenched in a pool of blood coming from her chest at Number 428 Ikorodu Road, Ojota.
A woman identified as Miss Tosin Oyemade who claimed that the deceased was her sales girl, said she had just been introduced to her, and wondered what she would tell her family.
“I asked her this morning to go and open the shop, while I went to church for an event, planning to join her later. My cousin called me while in church that the police had killed Jumoke, I had to rush down only to see her dead body in the pool of her blood.
“I was told while the police were shooting that people started running towards the compound (No. 428, Ikorodu Road) where Jumoke fell down bleeding,” she said.
An eye witness, one Mr Bamijoko Phillip, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that he was among those that ran into the compound when they saw the girl fall, bleeding from the chest.
“Why should the police use live bullets for harmless protesters? Police stray bullets killed the girl,” he said.
Reacting to the incident however, Lagos State police spokesman, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the attention of the command was drawn to it, but added that the girl was not killed by the police. He said it was a calculated attempt to create confusion and fears in the minds of the people of Lagos State and the country at large.
He said, “Police did not fire a single live bullet at Ojota rally today and the said corpse was found wrapped and abandoned at a distance, far from Ojota venue of the rally on the other side of the venue, with dried blood stains suggesting that the corpse is not fresh.
“After a close look at the corpse, a wound suspected to be sustained from a sharp object was seen on it,” he said.
Adejobi stated that the news was false and mischievous and therefore urged the general public to disregard it and go about their lawful normal daily activities while investigation to unravel the incident would commence immediately.
He added that the commissioner of police in the state, Hakeem Odumosu, commiserated with the family of the deceased and assured that a thorough investigation would be carried out.
“The command equally wishes to warn against the spread or peddling of fake and unconfirmed stories as such could be dangerous and counterproductive,” he said.
Efforts to speak to the person who claimed to be father of the girl failed as he declined to speak to journalists.
The commissioner of police while addressing journalists at the protest ground said Nigerians had the right to peaceful protests.
Giving reasons why the police prevented the rally from holding, he said the step was taken to forestall any colossal damage to the state as experienced during the #EndSARS protest.
He said the state had not recovered from the losses it suffered during the #EndSARS protest and would not give room for another damage to be done. Odumosu emphasized that the protesters had the right to protest but to do that in Lagos when it was still nursing the wounds inflicted on it during #EndSARS protest was not right, as hoodlums may hijack the protest and wreak more havoc.
“You will recollect that on Thursday, I had a press conference wherein I listed the security reasons why the rally must not hold, because we came to realise that some miscreants had perfected plans to cease this opportunity to create mayhem in the society.
“Though the organisers of the rally made certain efforts to say it would hold peacefully, you and I know that was what happened during the #EndSARS, the protest started peacefully, but the miscreants hijacked it, up till now Lagos State has not been able to get out of the destruction that happened during that #EndSARS, many lives were lost, many police officers lost their lives, many police stations were burnt, properties of police officers were burnt and many have not come out of the shock.
“We don’t want to allow that. You know what Lagos is, it is the economic hub of Nigeria, even West Africa, anything that happens to Lagos now affects the whole country and West Africa. We don’t want anybody to create any security breach for Lagos and I have the right to advise them not to carry the protest out now.
“They have the right to protest, they have the right to complain but the timing is not right.
“Protests, even in the family if carried out at the wrong time, wrong way, you will get the wrong results, so the environment is not conducive now for any protest in Lagos because, the state is still nursing the devastating effect of #EndSARS protest.”
On whether the protesters informed the police about the rally, Odumosu said, “They requested to have the protest at the Gani Fawehinmi park here, but their request showed they would have it simultaneously at the toll gate, at Surulere, Iyana Ipaja, even at Ikeja under the bridge, even some had perfected plans to go and attack customs men at Seme border, as they did in Ogun State and forcefully opened the border, that is no longer a protest. They want to hide under that peaceful protest being organized by the organisers to have that, I laid all that on the table for the presidency, that is why I said it is not conducive now for any rally, any protest in Lagos State.
“It is our duty to protect everybody, while you want to go on protest like this, you inform the police that you are going on protest from one place to the other and at a particular time.
“If you want to protest there are procedures, there should be procedures and processes of the letter, if you want to protest you tell the authorities, this is the certain number of people that will be in the protest, this is the dress they will wear, so when miscreants join the protest we will know.
“The content of the letter should let us know from this place to that place and give the identities of people to protest, the uniform they will wear and the label they will put on, that is the only way, they should be able to tell us we are going to one place to the other and state that anybody that does not wear their uniform if not one of them. But when the letter is made open-ended, it is now a problem to them. They won’t be able to identify those who are their members.”
One of the protesters noted that they were clamouring for a just cause and as such the government should not criminalize their action.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Comrade Olabisi Idowu of the Oodua Action Group said Yoruba people had never made any demand since Nigeria became independent and this is the first time it is making a demand.
“This is the first time we will be making demand, it is our legitimate right and it will be handed over (Yoruba nation) to us, we want Yoruba nation
Speaking in the same vein, Comrade Semiu Adeyemi noted that those who constituted the country Nigeria have different backgrounds, culture, language, and they want a Yoruba nation”.
‘’We want a Yoruba nation, we are not fighting or creating any problem, we don’t want bloodletting in Yoruba land, we don’t want problems in Yoruba land.
“We want to secede, the way Nigeria is structured now, our youths don’t have a future, we can’t continue in that way.
“This protest is to inform the international community that we are not comfortable being in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a nation, we have too much diversity, our people are not safe going to the farm, they are being attacked by herdsmen, our women are being raped in the farms, we can’t continue in this situation.
“Why do police like to treat us as criminals? We are not criminals, we are responsible and law abiding people, we didn’t come here to fight, before we got to this venue, we had been searched and nothing incriminating was found on us. If there is any negative action it is perpetrated by those who infiltrated us, we also appeal to men of the DSS to release our members arrested when Igboho’s house was invaded in the midnight, the charms and amulets the security men claimed to have recovered from Igboho is a ruse.
“Why they carried out the raid in his house was to prevent this rally from holding. We are not hooligans, we were in Kwara State to stage a rally, they rejected us, we turned back. It is only Kogi State we have not visited in states that have Yoruba speaking people.
Comrade Osho Williams From Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) urged the government not to criminalise their action because what they are doing is constitutionally recognised by International law.
Insecurity: Southern Governors To Meet In Lagos Monday
Meanwhile, governors of southern states in the country will tomorrow meet in Lagos to appraise recent happenings in the polity and security concerns in the country as it relates to their domain.
LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt yesterday that the planned meeting, which is to be hosted by the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will take place at the State House, Alausa, Ikeja, with all the 17 governors in the region expected to attend.
The meeting which is a follow up on the recent one held on May 11, 2021 in Asaba, the Delta State capital, it was further gathered, would take definite resolutions on some of the issues earlier raised.
It was also learnt that the meeting is expected to discuss the gains of the last meeting and the next move to make.
Confirming the meeting, the Lagos State commissioner for information and strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said the parley would discuss issues relating to true federalism, open grazing, state police and restructuring, among others.
It would be recalled that the governors at the last meeting which was hosted by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and attended by 15 of the 17 southern governors, arrived at a 12 point resolution which included the banning of open grazing of cattle in all the states.
They also agreed that the progress of the nation required that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian federation leading to the evolution of state police, even as they called for the review of the revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments as well as creation of other institutions which legitimately advance commitment to the practice of true federalism.
NEDA Calls For Sunday Ighoho’s Arrest
The North East Development Association (NEDA) has called for the immediate arrest of the head agitator for Yoruba nation, Sunday Ighoho.
Briefing newsmen in Gombe yesterday, the group said it had become imperative to arrest Igboho and charge him to court alongside the arrested leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra. (IPOB).
The secretary general of the group, Bitako Abubakar, told journalists that the unity of Nigeria cannot be compromised, adding that the arrest of Kanu was a welcome development.
He said there was no alternative to mutual coexistence, adding that Nigeria would remain one indivisible entity.
Abubakar said: “NEDA in its today conventional sitting came up with the following communiqué: The Board of Trustees and national executives of NEDA is commending Mr. President the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, the director general of DSS and all other agencies that assisted in the apprehension and onward repatriation of Nnamdi Kanu to Nigeria for the continuation of his trial.
“While commending them for the job well done, we urge them to give his case a speedy trial and prosecute him according to the charges labelled against him so as to serve as deterrent to others, failure to do so will send bad signals to his cohorts.
“The case of Nnamdi Kanu is indeed a case of treasonable felony considering the gravity of atrocities committed by his men in the South Eastern region which include killing of Nigerian security men and women serving in the region, wanton destruction of state/public properties, holding hostages, etc which are out rightly unlawful and should not be treated with levity.
“In view of the trying moments we are passing through in this country as a nation and a people particularly in the North East, North West and North Central it is enough for this government to descend very hard on anybody or group trying to bring Nigeria down.
“The so-called Sunday Igboho should not be speared, anywhere he and his accomplices are hiding, our security agencies should as a matter of urgency use all the instruments available to apprehend and prosecute them as condoning such rubbish in a country like Nigeria means abetting crime which no any civilized nation can afford doing.”