By Oluseye Ojo

Saturday April 13, 2024 was an infamous date in the history the Yoruba people in Nigeria.



On that fateful day, a group of Yoruba agitators, who described themselves as Yoruba Freedom Fighters, clad in military camouflage, attempted to seize control of the Oyo State Government Secretariat, located in Ibadan, the political headquarters of the South West.

The audacious move, spearheaded by Mrs. Modupe Onitiri-Abiola and the Indigenous Yoruba People, aimed to establish what they termed the Democratic Republic of Yoruba (DRY) as a sovereign nation.

However, the attempt was met with fierce resistance from the Nigerian security forces, leading to a gun battle that would grip the nation’s attention for days to come.

Staccato of gunshots and volleys of bullets journeyed around the State Government Secretariat. The combined security team of Nigeria overpowered the agitators, who had come to take over the seat of power in Ibadan because of its strategic status in Yorubaland.

As gathered, the agitators focused on taking over the secretariat because Ibadan is the political headquarters of South West and the secretariat is the place where Chief Obafemi Awolowo,  governed the Yorubaland in the era of the defunct Western Region ot Nigeria

The combined security teams overpowered the agitators and restored normalcy to the government secretariat.

The Proclamation and Inauguration of the D.R.Y

Just a day before the invasion, the agitators, under the leadership of Mrs. Modupe Onitiri-Abiola, inaugurated the Democratic Republic of Yoruba (DRY). In her inauguration speech, Onitiri-Abiola declared sovereignty for the D.R.Y nation, and a certain Mobolaji Olawale Akinola Omokore was sworn in as the Interim President. Omokore’s address, after the swearing-in, outlined the vision and plans of the Provisional Government, with an emphasis on the rich heritage and resources of the Yoruba people.

Said he: “I greet all Indigenous Yoruba People all over the world. My name is Mobolaji Olawale Akinola Omokore. I congratulate all indigenous Yoruba people. This is because the government of the Democratic Republic of the Yoruba has come to stay. Rejoice. Our ancestral land, definitely, is our land. We are now ready to work our resources from today till the end of time. We are going to establish many benefits. It’s time for us to enjoy the bountiful blessings, natural resources, rich heritage, and human resources with which we are divinely-blessed abundantly.

“At this time, all educational institutions, public and private, from the elementary to the polytechnic, and degree-awarding institutions throughout the seven states of the Democratic Republic of the Yoruba, are hereby shut from today till further notice. This is to make room for new model of curriculum which will also come free for all levels up till the first degree.

“All organisations – social, political, NGO and so on – which had been registered under Nigeria, are hereby proscribed, discontinued and dissolved today.

“All government ministries in the seven states of the Democratic Republic of the Yoruba, will now be known as Departments. These Departments will undergo thorough re-organisation.

“Without any shadow of a doubt, we shall pilot the Democratic Republic of the Yoruba (D.R.Y) on a business-model. “The states of the Democratic Republic of the Yoruba are as follows: the State of Ondo; the State of Ogun; the State of Osun; the State of Ekiti; the State of Old Oyo Empire; the State of Eko, and the State of Ibadan.”

The invasion

The first thing the armed Yoruba nation agitators, dressed in military camouflage, reportedly did was to remove the flag of Nigeria in front of Oyo State House of Assembly, and hoisted the Yoruba nation flag.

They also moved to the entrance of the Governor’s Office with a view to gaining entry. But they were prevented by a very strong locked iron gate at the entrance.

They also barked orders at the security personnel at the entrance of the Governor’s Office to open the gate so that they could enter. But the operatives did not answer them.

It was further gathered that the invaders were the advanced team and they came to prepare the ground for the arrival of the interim president of D.R.Y.  But he could not show up again due to information that came to him on the resistance to the insurrection by the government.

They were in the process of gaining entry into the Governor’s Office when security operatives from the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Army, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Amotekun Corps, and the Oyo State joint-security outfit,  codenamed Operation Burst moved to the scene. The Leader of Yoruba Self-Determination Movement, Prof Banji Akintoye, and the Yoruba nation advocate, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, fondly called Igboho, came out immediately and dissociated themselves from the invasion. Akintoye pointed fingers at Onitiri-Abiola as the mastermind of the insurrection.

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Arrests, parade of suspects

When the dust settled on the fateful Saturday, 18 persons were reportedly arrested in connection with the invasion.  By the time the Commissioner of Police in the state, Adebola Hamzat, paraded the suspects before journalists on Monday April 15, no fewer than 21 suspects were shown to journalists.

The security agencies also made more arrests after the parade, when the hideouts of the agitators in Sanyo area and University College Hospital were raided. The agitators reportedly scaled the fence of UCH to hibernate. But they were sighted and the matter was reported to the police.

Arraignment and remands of suspects

On April 17, at least 29 Yoruba nation agitators were arraigned before a magistrate court in Ibadan for their involvement in trying to invade the Governor’s Office and the state House of Assembly.

They were charged with treasonable felony, unlawful society, illegal possession of firearms, and conduct likely to breach the peace.

The agitators had been advocating the breakaway of Yoruba people from Nigeria. Despite being overpowered by security forces and arrested, some of the agitators expressed no regrets and claimed their actions were legitimate.

The Oyo State Government labelled their actions as terrorism. The agitators were brought before the court, where they were remanded in prison custody until August 1, 2024.

During the court proceedings, one of the defendants collapsed but was attended to by police officers and court officials.

Demolition agitators’ building

In response to the attempted seizure of the Oyo State Government Secretariat, the state government initiated the demolition of the building that housed the Yoruba Nation agitators.  The demolished building, as gathered was on Toye Oyesola Street in Ibadan South West Local Government Area of the state.

The Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Security Matters, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, a retired commissioner of police confirmed the demolition of the structure.

Reactions and Statements from the agitators

In the wake of the Ibadan invasion, both the agitators and their supporters made public statements expressing their perspectives and goals.

Onitiri-Abiola, in her address, condemned Nigeria’s intervention, highlighting the peaceful approach of the D.R.Y and its adherence to international agreements, regarding the right of indigenous people to self-determination.

She also issued an ultimatum to Nigeria demanding the release of arrested members of the D.R.Y military.  Omokore echoed Onitiri-Abiola’s sentiments, assuring Yoruba people of the Provisional Government’s commitment to peace and emphasising the long-awaited benefits of ‘independence.’

The leaders of thoughts in Ibadan, under the leadership of Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) have also objected to the move by the agitators, and warned them to stay away from Ibadan.

YCE speaks

The Yoruba Council or Elders (YCE), through its Secretary-General, Chief Oladipo Oyewole, said the ill fated mission of misguided people in military camouflage or outfit to the Oyo State Government Secretariat Ibadan “is bad!” The group condemned the invasion in its entirety, saying: “Unequivocally, we stand to say that the nauseating act is a Coup d’Etat. It is barbaric and totally unwarranted. From reports and analysis, it is an ill-conceived action which was dead on arrival.

“We are of the position, in line with the laws of Nigeria, that all the people involved should be treated as coupists and punished accordingly

“Yorubaland and our inherited culture abhors violence. The Yorubaman, because of his Omoluwabi ethos, would maintain decorum and dialogue rather than take part in any forceful take over

“The Federal Government of Nigeria should, without delay, deploy its apparatus to fish out parties involved in the dastardly act by all means and mete out judgement commensurate with this dastardly act.

“Going by all indicators, Nigeria is ready for take-off to prosperity through proper planning and application of rules of engagement that will give our nation, the cutting edge we earnestly desire and deserve for our comfort and mutual prosperity. We condemn this unfortunate act in all ramifications.”