How long can Police/OPC partnership last?

How long can Police/OPC partnership last?

By Adetokunbo Abiola
The Nigeria Police recently said it would strengthen the Operation Puff Adder and Safer Highway in the South-West by partnering with the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said this in Ibadan, Oyo State, and said he  hoped the strengthened partnership would stabilise security so that the South-West could move to the next phase.

In another development, Adamu, disclosed that his collaboration with the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) has led to a significant reduction in crime rate in South-West Nigeria.

The IGP made the revelation through a delegation sent to the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yorubaland and Leader of the OPC, Gani Adams, in Lagos, saying that he would sustain the synergy and partnership with the OPC to further reduce crime rate and ensure peace in the southwest area.

Needless to say, the Police and OPC have had a troubled relationship. There had been  confrontations between the OPC and the police between 2000 and 2004, and many are surprised today that the IGP has found the organisation worthy of its collaboration in crime fighting.

In 1999, clashes between Hausa and the OPC led to the killing of at least 27 people, prompting President Olusegun Obasanjo to order police to shoot rioters on sight.

The bodies of the victims, some of them burned, lay on the streets of the Ketu suburb, where Hausas and militants from the OPC fought after armed riot police moved in to quell disturbances.

“The police have instructions that any criminal should be shot on sight. Anyone who calls himself OPC should be arrested and if he doesn’t agree he will be shot on sight,” Mr Obasanjo had said.

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In July 2000, the Police in Lagos declared an all-out-war on the militant factions of the Oodua Peoples Congress OPC, as 50 OPC men were reportedly summarily executed at the Police Headquarters in Ikeja.

Police authorities had declared that two of its men were killed while five officers are missing in  clashes with OPC in several parts of the state.

In 2014, pandemonium broke out in a densely-populated Ajegunle area of Lagos State, after some members of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) engaged policemen in Tolu Police Division in a gun fight over the release of a suspect.

A suspected OPC member was gunned down, while a passer-by was hit by a stray bullet. One policeman was hurt, and several others sustained various degrees of injuries in the incident, with the  OPC members setting  a police van ablazeand setting a part of the station abaze.

The Odua People’s Congress (OPC) was founded in 1994 or 1995 as a non-violent socio-cultural pressure group designed to protect Yoruba interests, according to its then leader, Dr. Frederick Fasheun. However, soon after it was founded the OPC split into two factions: the one led by Dr. Fasheun, which claims to support a peaceful struggle for Yoruba autonomy, and a breakaway faction led by Ganiyu Adams, which reportedly promotes the use of force to achieve the same goals.

However, the new friendship between the Police and OPC has made the Alaafin of Oyo,  Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, III, to applaud the police and the South-West governors on the recent move to partner with the Aare Gani Adams-led OPC in their efforts to curb the spate of insecurity in the region.

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 Speaking, Alaafin said, with the new move, the police have shown a lot of commitment to stop the spate of insecurity in the region. He said the partnership with the OPC will definitely bring the much needed peace and tranquility across the South-West.

 “As custodian of Yoruba culture, the traditional rulers have the native intelligence of their respective domains and kingdoms. We are very close to the people at the grassroots, and on daily basis, we are fed with information that is crucial to the growth and development of the region.”

 The Federal lawmaker representing Surulere /Ogo Oluwa Fededal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Segun Dokun Odebunmi, also praised the proposed partnership, saying the OPC was a credible organization.

He said, “the OPC members reside in the society, with their involvement now, they will be able to embark on thorough surveillance and activities in their area which will help them and the police special squad on banditry in discovery and arresting culprits.

The Otunba Gani Adams faction of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Oyo State chapter, also  commended all South West governors and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for securing regional peace.

The integration of the Gani Adams faction of the OPC into the security network of the country, Olumo said, showed that the police was committed to ending insecurity in Nigeria, saying that the OPC will give the necessary support to the police in combating crime in the country.

 He maintained that the Aare Onakankanfo, Iba Gani Adams will fine-tune methods and strategies that would assist the police, adding that Adams would not disappoint Yorubas as their warlord.

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Olumo went on to disclose that the Aare Onakankanfo had mandated all state executives of OPC to start work with immediate effect, saying that both the police and OPC are partners in progress.

“We should appreciate the governors because, despite the fact that they are not from the same party, they still speak in one voice. We OPC members in Oyo State appreciate Governor Seyi Makinde for this,” Olumo said.

Still, there could areas for future disagreements, as OPC isn’t comfortable with the news going round that Buhari spent over N100bn to fund Miyetti Allah.

Last year, OPC issued a 7-day ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen in Osun State to fish out the criminal elements among them, so areas for clashes could still exist, and conflict could disrupt the new friendship between OPC and the Police..

Last year, personnel of the Lagos State Police Command destroyed a shrine located under the Opebi link bridge allegedly belonging to members of OPC; three suspected members of the group were arrested during the raid on the shrine allegedly used to extort members of the public.

This means the Police still see OPC as a dangerous organization.

While everyone praises the new cooperation between the Police and OPC, only time will tell whether the partnership can work.

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