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Afenifere, South-West Governors Disagree Over EndSARS Fallout

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End Sars Protest In Abuja

South-West governors and pan-Yoruba so­cio-political organisa­tion, Afenifere, are on a collision course over some of the decisions reached at the end of last week’s South-West forum meeting to strategise on improved security in the region following #EndSARS protests.

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Sources said unlike the other regions that included their various socio-cultural organisations and leaders in the meeting called to find a solution to the #EndSARS crisis, the South-West gover­nors did not make any consul­tations with notable groups such as Afenifere, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Oo­dua Peoples Congress (OPC) and so on.

Others, who spoke with our correspondent, also won­dered why the South-West governors will have a meeting on security without inviting the Aare Ona Kakanfo, Iba Gani Adams, who is the gen­eralissimo of Yorubaland.

Governor Rotimi Ak­eredolu of Ondo State, who is the chairman of South- West Governors’ Forum in a communiqué signed by him, had commended President Muhammadu Buhari over the manner he handled the #EndSARS protest, a position Afenifere disagreed with.

The group also distanced itself from Akeredolu’s po­sition justifying the freezing of #EndSARS promoters’ accounts while asking those aggrieved to go to court and clear their names if they had nothing to hide.

According to Akeredolu, “Speaking very honestly, I don’t see anything wrong in it. If for instance, my account was frozen, what would I do? All I would do is go back to court to explain. Even pol­iticians, their accounts are sometimes frozen. You have to go to court and explain. And at the end of the day, the court will say, ‘leave the ac­count. The account should be de-frozen’ and you take your money back,” the governor said.

Backing calls for the regu­lation of social media, he said: “There must be gatekeepers. Yes, you want to publish any news you like, there must be gatekeepers using technology that will be able to, at least, sieve what is right and what is wrong.”

However, speaking with Daily Independent, on why they were not invited to the meeting, Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, said the governors deliberately left them out of the meeting because they (Afenifere) will not support some of the anti-people deci­sions reached at the end of the meeting.

“The governors know that we cannot sit down in a place and you go and issue a communiqué which is an­ti-people; to say that we com­mend Buhari for the way he ended the #EndSARS crisis and to say that we support the gagging of social media, we will never be part of that. We are glad that (Seyi) Makinde came out and said they never agreed on such things. With Governor Akeredolu coming out to say that he sees nothing wrong in freezing the account of #EndSARS people, we can now know the reason why they did not want people they think they cannot control, to sign on to what they want at that meeting”, Afenifere said.

He also said Akeredolu’s position on freezing of the accounts is entirely his and should not be mistaken as the collective decision of the South-West.

While admonishing Ak­eredolu not to destroy his legacies in the future, it also backed Governor Seyi Ma­kinde of Oyo State for pub­licly distancing himself from Akeredolu’s position on the regulation of social media.

“We cannot be a party to that. We openly disagreed with him. Yesterday, I was with one of his aides on a national television, and I had to knock him clearly. I said ‘young man, there will be to­morrow. Akeredolu will not be governor forever. He will finish his term and come back. He should not use his present to destroy his past and South-West governors and pan-Yoruba so­cio-political organisa­tion, Afenifere, are on a collision course over some of the decisions reached at the end of last week’s South-West forum meeting to strategise on improved security in the region following #EndSARS protests.

Sources said unlike the other regions that included their various socio-cultural organisations and leaders in the meeting called to find a solution to the #EndSARS crisis, the South-West gover­nors did not make any consul­tations with notable groups such as Afenifere, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Oo­dua Peoples Congress (OPC) and so on.

Others, who spoke with our correspondent, also won­dered why the South-West governors will have a meeting on security without inviting the Aare Ona Kakanfo, Iba Gani Adams, who is the gen­eralissimo of Yorubaland.

Governor Rotimi Ak­eredolu of Ondo State, who is the chairman of South- West Governors’ Forum in a communiqué signed by him, had commended President Muhammadu Buhari over the manner he handled the #EndSARS protest, a position Afenifere disagreed with.

The group also distanced itself from Akeredolu’s po­sition justifying the freezing of #EndSARS promoters’ accounts while asking those aggrieved to go to court and clear their names if they had nothing to hide.

According to Akeredolu, “Speaking very honestly, I don’t see anything wrong in it. If for instance, my account was frozen, what would I do? All I would do is go back to court to explain. Even pol­iticians, their accounts are sometimes frozen. You have to go to court and explain. And at the end of the day, the court will say, ‘leave the ac­count. The account should be de-frozen’ and you take your money back,” the governor said.

Backing calls for the regu­lation of social media, he said: “There must be gatekeepers. Yes, you want to publish any news you like, there must be gatekeepers using technology that will be able to, at least, sieve what is right and what is wrong.”

However, speaking with Daily Independent, on why they were not invited to the meeting, Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, said the governors deliberately left them out of the meeting because they (Afenifere) will not support some of the anti-people deci­sions reached at the end of the meeting.

“The governors know that we cannot sit down in a place and you go and issue a communiqué which is an­ti-people; to say that we com­mend Buhari for the way he ended the #EndSARS crisis and to say that we support the gagging of social media, we will never be part of that. We are glad that (Seyi) Makinde came out and said they never agreed on such things. With Governor Akeredolu coming out to say that he sees nothing wrong in freezing the account of #EndSARS people, we can now know the reason why they did not want people they think they cannot control, to sign on to what they want at that meeting”, Afenifere said.

He also said Akeredolu’s position on freezing of the accounts is entirely his and should not be mistaken as the collective decision of the South-West.

While admonishing Ak­eredolu not to destroy his legacies in the future, it also backed Governor Seyi Ma­kinde of Oyo State for pub­licly distancing himself from Akeredolu’s position on the regulation of social media.

“We cannot be a party to that. We openly disagreed with him. Yesterday, I was with one of his aides on a national television, and I had to knock him clearly. I said ‘young man, there will be to­morrow. Akeredolu will not be governor forever. He will finish his term and come back. He should not use his present to destroy his past and make a mess of his future”.

“Akeredolu was a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). He has a pedigree. If it was any governor we don’t think has anything to protect that had said that, we will just ignore him. But for Akeredolu, how do you say that they can con­tinue to punish people with­out trial? Will Akeredolu get up in Ondo State and start freezing and punishing people without trial?

“Before you can punish anybody, their guilt must have been established. How do you establish the guilt of those whose accounts you have frozen? It has to be through a judicial process. If there is a judicial process that says this people committed an offence, let us punish them, we can’t say you cannot punish in ac­cordance with the law.

“We cannot say what Ak­eredolu is now saying in the second part of it that if those whose accounts were frozen have been offended, they should go to court. You did not go to court, but went to court of impunity to punish them and you are now say­ing they should go to court of law.

“You are SAN, a senior member of the Bar, past pres­ident of the NBA who should maintain the standards of law of how a society should be organised and not behave like anything goes politician. We don’t agree with that. We condemn him in totality”, the socio-cultural group noted.

Odumakin added that Afenifere will always com­mend the governors when­ever they do what is right but added that the organisa­tion will not shy away from telling them the truth where they err.

“When his aide said Afenifere was against Ak­eredolu, I told him that when Akeredolu took that position on Amotekun, did Afenifere not commend him openly, even though we knew it could be of benefit to him during the election? It didn’t matter to us.

“But when you are mak­ing statements that makes you not to be different from the fascists who are running Nigeria aground, we cannot accept that! You are wrong and we have told the governor that he is totally wrong on this matter”.

Responding, Akeredolu who spoke through Donald Ojogo, the Ondo State Com­missioner for Information, said he won’t join issues with Afenifere.

“It is not in the character of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, to be insen­sitive as anyone might want to insinuate. The issues border­ing on youth empowerment and the rest that culminat­ed in the ugly occurrences reminiscent of #EndSARS protests are issues that have been with us for long. No one is insulated.

“On specifics, there is a perception theory to always demonise certain persons. Governor Akeredolu cannot, has never been part of those whose activities tend toward revisionism. He has always been a progressive and the comradeship in him is incur­able. No one can doubt his cre­dentials in this regards.

“On the allegation by Afenifere, Governor Ak­eredolu won’t join issues with anyone, we repeat. We won’t also go into the details of the warped reportage by whoever wanted it that way.

“The reason for the noise about Governor Akeredo­lu’s comments on the issue of the blocked accounts can only be that some persons somewhere want to take the lawyer in Akeredolu away from him”, he said.


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