On 1 July 2021, the Department of State Security (DSS) raided the home of a separatist
agitator, Sunday Igboho, in Soka area, Oluyole LGA of Ibadan, Oyo State, based on
“intelligence that he was stockpiling arms,” according to the agency. However, given the DSS
recoveries at Sunday’s residence, it was clear to civil authorities that he and his group posed
a nascent threat. The State Command then banned protest demonstrations in Lagos,
promising to crack down on defaulters on 3 July 2021.
The incident in Oyo State occurred just two days before a rally organized by Igbohos-led
Oduduwa Republic, a Yoruba separatist movement. The rally, which was expected to be one
of the largest and most anticipated separatist events in the history of the groups marches,
fell short of expectations.
In the run-up to 3 July, anti-government sentiment was strongest in southern Nigeria, as the
raid on Igboho had drawn public and ethnic sentiments to his cause, with many pointing out
a disparity in the government’s handling of insecurity in the North, particularly with the
surging case of banditry in the North West and terrorist organizations spreading beyond the
North East; as compared to tackling of anti-government civil groups and critics as well as
secessionist groups in the South.
The truth is that the government’s inability to put an end to banditry and terrorism, whichpose a direct threat to the country’s stability, before focusing on more veiled threats, suchas in the case of Igboho, demonstrates a great sense of inability to manage the securitysituation in without triggering negative ripple effects across the entire nation.
The Sunday Igboho’s movement in 2020 was fueled by needless attacks on communities in
Oyo State’s Oke-ogun and Ibarapa areas by suspected criminal herders. Sunday Igboho
mobilized young and middle-aged hunters and vigilantes to these affected communities
hosting Fulani herders and attacked these settlements, as was also done in Ogun State.
However, things only got better from there, as he grew in popularity throughout the South-
West and internationally following his call for the formation of the Yoruba nation and
secession from the Nigerian state.
Though the events that initially fueled Igboho’s activities, namely his agitations to stop
criminal herdsmen and bandits destroying farmlands and killing people, must be addressed.
The need to apprehend violent agitations, such as IPOB in the South East and Banditry in the
North West and Central regions, remains critical in dealing with insurgency and anarchy
across the country.
Sunday Igboho’s push to secede from Nigeria isn’t a crime in and of itself; rather, his use of
violence to achieve his goal jeopardizes the democratically sanctioned approach to seeking
independence. Given that his rhetoric has been instrumental in the killing of herders, which
has also contributed to further clashes in the South West between herders and farmers, the
need to rein in Igboho was in fact necessary in deterring violent uprisings in other parts of
What remains heinous is the government’s hostile approach to the situation. According to
accounts of the 1 July raid, the absence of a formal invitation by the government through its security agency or a court order demonstrates a mafia-led type of operation, as the chances
of Sundays Igboho’s survival from the raid would have been reduced due to known excessive
use of force in handling such security operations.