Afenifere, a leading Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, has said it is mobilising over 100 lawyers to defend the 21 indigenes of Ile-Ife who were paraded by the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters following ethnic clashes between Yorubas and Hausa Fulani community in the Osun town.
Yinka Odumakin, the national publicity secretary of the organisation, disclosed this development in an interview with The Trent on Thursday, March 23, 2016.
“Six senior advocates of Nigeria have already volunteered their services to defend the 21 indigenes of Ile-Ife who were illegally paraded by the police,” Odumakin told our reporter. “Up to 20 lawyers have already come forward to form the legal team.”
“The recourse to the legal challenge is consistent with our approach of exhausting all constitutional and legal means of fighting injustice since we came under the assaults of Fulani injustice against the Yoruba from Awo’s March through prisons,” he said.
In a statement on Wednesday, Afenifere declared the parade of the 21 indigenes of Ile-Ife, all Yoruba as “illegal, unconstitutional, and sectional parade” and “vowed to resist the undue deployment of federal might to settle ethnic scores”.
The group described the Ile-Ife indigenes as abductees and insisted that an investigation and trial of suspects must be done at the scene of the crime.
“As a first step in this regard [resisting the undue deployment of federal might to settle ethnic scores], we have assembled a powerful team of lawyers to enforce the fundamental human rights of the 21 abducted Yoruba persons,” the statement, obtained by The Trent, said.
“It is a settled law that the investigation and trial of suspects must take place at the scene of the crime.
We are appreciative of the many lawyers of Yoruba extraction who have taken up this challenge pro bono.
“The legal team will challenge this subversion of due process while political pressure continues on why two communities will be involved in a fight and only members of one community will be put on trial by a police whose leadership is of the same ethnic with the other party in the conflict.
Afenifere also insisted that the Hausa Fulani group were the aggressors in the conflict and that the killing of a Yoruba man ignited the conflict and that the Nigerian Police’s “skewed” report clearly missed this important information.
“We appeal to our people to be calm while we pursue the legal angle to this challenge to our pride as a people as the first step,” the statement ended.
The lawyers who have volunteered, so-far, are of Yoruba extraction, but we also welcome other nationalities,” Odumakin said.
Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and Ahmed Raji SAN, are among the senior advocates of Nigeria in the legal team.