An irate President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed the use of lethal force against Sunday Igboho and his supporters if they continue to “disturb public peace” in Oyo State, two police sources familiar with the matter told People Gazette on Saturday.
Sunday Igboho, whose real name is Sunday Adeyemo, has been at the forefront of a controversial and illegal attempt to drive Nigerians of Fulani origin from Oyo State.
The Nigerian Constitution accords all citizens the fundamental rights to live in any parts of the country, but Sunday Igboho and others have been riding on the anger of Yoruba political leadership against rising herdsmen violence to issue confrontational directives of their own.
Sunday Igboho led an army of his followers to Oke-Ogun parts of Oyo State on Friday, leading to a bloodshed that involved the razing of the home and other assets of a famous Fulani chief.
“The president was briefed on the matter and he said Sunday’s action can disturb public peace and it should stop,” a police chief told the Gazette by telephone Saturday afternoon.
“We were told from IG’s office that the president has asked for Sunday Igboho and his followers to be shot at sight if they continue pushing to drag Nigeria into a civil war.”
Another police source told us that police Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu was seeking an alternative approach.
“He does not want to flout presidential directive, but he has been talking to Yoruba leaders to find other means of preventing the matter from escalating,” the senior police officer said by telephone. “A possible trip to the South-west is also on the table.” Both senior officers sought anonymity to discuss internal police communication.
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina did not did not immediately return a request seeking comments about the president’s order, which could escalate brewing ethnic tensions if carried out by the police.
But earlier on Saturday morning, another presidential media aide Garba Shehu told the BBC that Mr. Adamu had sent out a signal for the arrest of Sunday Igboho and his supporters, leaving out the controversial shoot-on-sight directive of the president.
Mr. Buhari has a history of supporting bloodshed in Nigeria. As an opposition, he provoked his supporters to lynch hundreds of citizens after losing the 2011 presidential poll to Goodluck Jonathan.
In December 2015 and October 2020, Mr. Buhari respectively supported the military massacres of over 1,000 Shi’a adherents in Zaria and dozens of anti-police brutality agitators in Lekki, Lagos.