In a recent statement which he made concerning the order from the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to arrest the popular Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has warned the Nigeria Police not to arrest the activist.
Falana said this yesterday during an online interview programme. While giving reasons for his statement, he said that before now, those who gave quit notices to other nationalities in their regions were not arrested, and since the police did not arrest those people, they should not arrest Sunday Igboho also.
It should be recalled that last week, the presidency had issued a statement saying that the Inspector General of Police had ordered the Commissioner of Police in Oyo state, Ngozi Onadeko, to arrest Sunday Igboho and transfer him down to Abuja. According to the statement, the order of arrest was connected to the quit notice given to Fulani herdsmen in Ibarakpa North Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Sunday Igboho had cited the presence of Fulani herdsmen in Ibarakpa as the cause of some of the cases of kidnappings and killings experienced in the area, and had given them a seven days ultimatum to leave the area.
After the expiration of the seven days, he had stormed Ibarakpa to enforce the order, and in the process, the Seriki Fulani was chased out of his settlement, and his properties burnt. Though Sunday Igboho had denied having a hand in the burning of the Seriki Fulani’s properties, saying that the properties were burnt by angry residents of the area, the matter had attracted national attention.
Shortly after the order of his arrest was issued by the IG of Police, Sunday Igboho had made a statement saying that he had met with the Commissioner of Police in the state, and that they met to discuss the security situation of the area, and how best to address the situation.
Yesterday, Falana said that in this case, the police has no right to decide who to arrest.
Speaking further, he said that the destitute in the society – the Almajiris, beggars and the poor – had been deported, yet the government didn’t do anything about it.
Falana’s statement is coming as a surprise to many people, because of his earlier stance on the issue. Some days ago, Falana had condemned the quit notice given by Sunday Igboho to Fulani herdsmen in Ibarakpa. According to him, he is still maintaining the same stance on the matter. He said that he had condemned the actions of persons who issued quiet notices to non-indigenes in their areas in the past, and that is the same way he spoke against the quit notice Sunday Igboho issued to the Fulani herdsmen too.
He said that he does not support jungle justice, but the citizens must also be careful never to take the laws into their hands.
The popular lawyer added that the government has failed The people, but the people can also awaken the government to live up to its responsibilities of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens, by taking steps that would point the government towards the right direction.
He said that it has got to a stage where the people can no longer depend on the security apparatus of the government, but every community has to set up its security structure to ensure the protection of its people and properties.
Falana said that Sunday Igboho cannot be arrested because others who issued quit notices in the past were not arrested, and that it would be unfair to arrest Sunday Igboho. To further buttress his point, he added that sometime ago, a similar thing had happened in the north. He said that a quit notice was given to Igbo people in the north, and a northern governor had ordered for the arrest of the person who issued the quit notice, but unfortunately, the police didn’t arrest the person. So just like the police failed to arrest the man, Sunday Igboho cannot be arrested.
Falana warned against politicizing the security situation in the country, as that would not do the country any good. He said that the reason we are encountering all these problems is because we do not have the same standards, and if the government has to protect the interest of a certain group of persons, then they should, in the same manner, protect the interests of other groups. And these social tensions which we are currently having in the country can be averted if politics can be kept far away from the way the government handles these things.
Just the same way Falana did, several other notable persons in the country have also warned against the arrest of the Yoruba activist. Some said that Sunday Igboho has won himself the love and support of many Yoruba people and even elites, and arresting him might turn him into a hero, and that is a mistake the government should never make.
Others also said that because of the immense support he has won for himself, arresting him might plunge the Southwest into a social upheaval which is capable of affecting the entire country.
But I believe that in this case, the government knows the right thing to do, and they would only take steps that would ensure peace and stability in the country.
What is your thought on this – do you think it is the right thing for the police to arrest Sunday Igboho?
Credit: Punch, PM News.