We can proudly say that we of the Youth Democratic Front (YDF) and our broader youth coalition Congress of Progress Youth (COPY) were at the forefront of the struggle to revalidate the annulled June 12 mandate.
COPY cadres stormed Ibadan when Adedidu / Arishekola organised a 5 million man march in support of Abacha’s transition to civilian president agenda.
We addressed a press conference at University of Ibadan which the SUG initially resisted on Monday 13th of April, 1998. On Tuesday 14th of April, we staged a protest march rally to Adamasingba stadium, venue of the pro – Abacha rally.
The protest led by late Comrade Ola Oni, Omoyele Sowore, Olawale Salami aka Don, Abayomi Asheda, Jide Catt Fadare, Ademola Ashekun, Rasheed Omosanya, Habeeb Gbajabiamila, Adeniyi Faloju, Solomon Gbinigie, Ade Adewunmi, Ibrahim Adeyi and others with my humble self as the field commandant disrupted the pro-Abacha rally. Shola Odunfa a BBC correspondent covered the showdown while the Tribune Newspapers reported how the Jalaruru masquerade was begging for mercy when the pro-Abacha ill-informed crowd were overpowered by the pro-democracy agitators.
The April 14th success motivated our return journey to Ibadan for the popular May 1st protest which led to the arrest and detention of Lam Adeshina, Pa Alayande, late Cicero Bola Ige and Ola Oni – the pro-democracy movement tagged prisoners of conscience. I led a 9 man team from Lagos to Ola Oni’s house at Bodija on the 29th of April. Adeniyi Faloju and I left the following morning to Ilorin, to assist in the mobilisation and coordination of the Joe Okei and Taiwo Otitolaiye led team. Our protest march from Oja gbooro, was easily dispersed, we reconverged at Taiwo oke and were teargassed in a protest Wole Badmus ably participated. The uncooperative attitude of the Kwara State College of Education SUG for us to relaunch the protest from the school gate informed my decision to go and join the Lagos Mainland team at Ibadan, where hell is already let loose when I got to the ancient city.
I met Wale Ola Oni at Oke Ado area where we hijacked a van to take a protester writhing in pains having been shot by the police to the hospital. Against wiser counsel, I decided going back to Lagos and I paid dearly for it, as I was thoroughly beaten by Adedidu boys who found some May Day leaflets on me at the Oke Ado underbridge.
The story in Lagos is not different as Lanre Falola, Idris and 4 others have been arrested and detained. Ahmaddiyah Central Mosque Simpson streets Ebute Metta then become our new home as police are daily casing our 249, Herbert Macaulay street residence to effect my arrest.
After 32days I was eventually arrested alongside Wale Salami on the 3rd of June, 1998. Ajibola Bashiru whom we are leaving together at that material point in history, luckily escaped arrest. Bola Akiode a lawyer and one of the leaders of COPY had made unsuccessful attempt to secure the release of Muritala Mohammed arrested while distributing UAD leaflets. After Abiola reported police refusal to release 16years old Muri, Suraj escorted her to the bus stop, thus escaped by a stroke of luck when Muri was brought to identify and arrest me, if not the Osun central Senator today, could have been arrested alongside Don and myself.
We were taken before Abubakar Tsav from Iporin police station where we are initially detained. The Commissioner of police, Tsav threatened that our trio won’t see daylight again until there is democracy in Nigeria and that we should be fed with a ball of akara at Area F where we are eventually detained. Ebun olu Adegboruwa (SAN) was one of our visitors after his release by the DMI
The death of Abacha led to our release. Bamidele Aturu whom we met at detention alongside Isaac Osuoka was mandated by the UAD after his own release to sue the military government for our illegal detention. We won the case against our illegal arrest and detention but unfortunately, the civilian government in Lagos went to the Court of Appeal where we won again, and had refused to pay us the court awarded compensation of #1m each till date.