Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State in South-West Nigeria has declared that his government would not allow anyone hiding under the guise of protecting Yoruba interest to cause ethnic tension and perpetrate crisis in the state.
The statement came amid threats by popular Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, to drive the Fulani out of the state.
Makinde had rejected the move, saying criminals should be isolated from ethnic groups. He noted that Nigerians are free to settle in any part of the country they wish to.
Receiving the new Commissioner of Police in Oyo, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, on Friday, the governor maintained that the war which the state and the security agencies need to wage is not against any particular ethnic group but against criminal elements, irrespective of their tribes, religions, or creed.
He declared that the government will not relent in placing priority on the welfare of the officers and men of the Police Force in the state.
Makinde stated that his administration would not allow anyone to threaten the peace of the state by acting unlawfully and saying things that are alien to the Nigerian Constitution, noting that acts that are capable of causing chaos in the state will not be accepted.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Taiwo Adisa, the governor made it clear that his administration would continue to synergise with all security agencies in the state to fight criminals, hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribes, religions, or creed, while urging the police to arrest miscreants causing tension and threatening the peace of the state.
“For people stoking ethnic tension, they are criminals and once you get them, they should be arrested and treated like common criminals,” he said.
“For this administration, the major pillar for us is security, because we know that all the good economic plans we have won’t be possible in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.
“So, when people say things that are neither lawful nor within the spirit of Nigeria’s Constitution, it is not acceptable here. And they cannot hide under the guise of protecting Yoruba’s interest to perpetuate chaos in the state.
“I am sure that since you came in, you must have heard about some things happening at Ibarapa axis of the state. I will still say it here that we are not after Hausa-Fulani. We are after criminals.
“We are after hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribe, religion, or creed. Those are the people we are after. If you look into the records, when we had the armed robbery incident at Okeho in Kajola Local Government Area of the state, some people were killed, some were arrested and we found out that they were from Ebira, from Kogi State. So, we want to go after the criminals – whether they are Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani or whoever they are.”
Makinde, who stated that his government would ensure that all security agencies work together to ensure a secure and peaceful Oyo State, also pointed out that the Oyo State Security Network Agency, codenamed Operation Amotekun, like federal security agencies, is working towards the same objective of securing the state.
“Amotekun here in Oyo State is working with us towards the same objective. We need intelligence to know about criminals before they even strike. It is one of the major reasons why we set up Amotekun; to be able to gather intelligence in all the wards in Oyo State,” the governor noted.
“But the same people that demonised Amotekun are the ones now telling us that a certain ethnic nationality should leave this place.
“For us, we will ensure that all the security agencies work together. I will encourage interaction with all other agencies and once we have that synergy, we will ensure that the objective of the people going about their businesses with no fear of being molested will be attained.
“You are welcome home because we believe Oyo State should be home to you and should make you and the team as comfortable as possible. We don’t want this to be a hardship posting for you. So, your welfare and that of your officers and men are of paramount interest to us and of very high importance.
“You and your team are all coming in at a very challenging time. This is a period where false information is almost at its highest, ethnic tension almost at its highest as well. So, I will say you have your job cut out for you. We won’t make the job difficult. We will be sincere and open; we will support you.”
The governor commended the new Commissioner of Police for swinging into action immediately she resumed office, pledging that the government would give maximum cooperation and support to the security agency.
Earlier, the new Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Onadeko, said that the visit was to formally inform the governor that she has resumed fully.
She vowed that the Oyo State Police Command will secure the lives and property of the people and ensure that the people go to bed with their two eyes closed.
The commissioner equally noted that the police officers have started the visibility policing in all the nooks and crannies of the state and have returned to their duty posts and are poised to reduce crimes to the barest minimum level in the state.