HE had always been very active in local politics, but he soared into national consciousness some two weeks ago with a quit notice on herdsmen in the Ibarapa, Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State. He accused the herders of killings, kidnappings and rapings of community natives. And though he is neither the state governor nor a conventional security chief to issue such an order, his cause found resonance with the local folk such that he commanded more credibility and following with them than the regular agents of government. These summarise the exploits of Yoruba rights activist Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
Igboho asked herdsmen in Igangan, Ibarapa north council area of Oyo to leave within seven days following reports of the killing of some natives that he blamed on the herders. The quit notice naturally generated much tension, with ethnic warriors like him across the divide fiercely threatening blowbacks. Curiously, the Federal Government, which swiftly (many would say rashly) rebutted a variant of such order by Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu from which Igboho is suspected to have drawn inspiration, was suddenly lost for words in responding to the activist’s wild cat initiative. The onus fell on Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde to repudiate Igboho’s order and invite the police to arrest “criminals” fomenting trouble in the guise of protecting the interest of the Yoruba. Subsequently it was reported that Police Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu had ordered that Igboho be arrested and transferred to Abuja.
But the activist wasn’t fazed by the threatened arrest; and upon expiration of his seven-day notice last Friday, he and his supporters stormed Igangan to expel the herders, precipitating a clash with the non-natives and forcing the Seriki Fulani to flee. Earlier when he showed up in the community, he was accorded a rousing welcome by the townspeople. “Kidnappers cannot rule over us, they can’t take over our land from us. It belongs to us…,” he asserted inter alia. Apparently bolstered by the reception in the Oyo community, he has vowed to extend his cause to all other Southwest states and indeed Kwara.
Not only did Igboho’s cause resonate with community locals, it elicited some tacit sympathy from Yoruba elite. Obviously, however, it wasn’t that Igboho’s self-help approach was being endorsed as right, only that the approach seemed compelled amidst suspected lack of capacity or willingness in government to tackle down the security challenges faced by the people. Already, there are reports the activist is being considered by Southwest governors for possible enlistment to head the regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun.
Igboho is by no means the example of a law-abiding citizen, but the circumstance that threw him up lends him the relevance he has and only effective engagement by government with the security challenges will take away that relevance.
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