June 14, 2024

Save Agodi Forest campaign: The disrupted peaceful demonstration in Ibadan

  • December 23, 2023
  • 3 min read
Save Agodi Forest campaign: The disrupted peaceful demonstration in Ibadan

By Rosalie Anne Modder-Oyefeso

RECENTLY, several of us green conservationist groups organized a peaceful walkout in Ibadan City through the environs of Agodi Gardens, Agodi Forest and Oyo State Government Secretariat. We attracted a turnout of about 120 walkers comprising architects, bankers, doctors, lawyers, university dons, students and grandparents alike, professionals and non-professionals alike, mothers and fathers. In short, it was a gathering of the bedrock of responsible cadre of Ibadan society, the type of pillar-of-society-citizen who tell others to park their cars properly and stop throwing plastic water bottles on through their car windows to litter the ground.

The whole purpose of the exercise was to raise awareness among the citizens of Ibadan and the state government to the disastrous consequences to felling trees in the Ogunpa River, a conservation, pristine forest area.

However, to our horror, it ended in tragedy when bus loads of PMS workers swooped down on vehicles belonging to our participants, very carefully parked in the lay-by in front of Agodi gardens, and with the aid of an OYRTMA truck, drove them into the OYRTMA premises in the Secretariat. A few other cars which we had parked in the OYRTMA had their tyres deflated.
Even as I write, these vehicles have still not been released.


Agodi Conservation Forest protesters in Ibadan

We could have dealt with the impounded vehicles, if the agents of government had stopped there, but the horror escalated when the PMS workers carrying kobokos started threatening and beating up our members within the premises of OYRTMA in Secretariat. Is this what we have come to? Is there no sanctuary for the citizens of Ibadan in their OYSG Secretariat any longer?

I was appalled to read on media platforms later in the evening the assertions and counter-assertions from OYRTMA that our cars had to be impounded because they were obstructing traffic. I am even more appalled at the denial of their assault on our participants.

I am of the age where people I don’t even know greet me ‘Grandma!’ I have all the aches and twinges of the old age that I have achieved. I have no business leaving my home at 7am to walk from Agodi Gardens to Secretariat and back, keeping my strength up with fried buns and paracetamol. But do you know why I did it? We had a very urgent message for Oyo State Government. And since none of them seems to be taking the issue seriously, I say it now on behalf of all of us in a very loud voice:

Replacing the Conservation Forest with concrete housing estates on the Watershed for Ogunpa River in the Agodi forest behind Agodi Gardens WILL have a DEADLY IMPACT on the ENVIRONMENT and UNIMAGINABLY DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES of FLOODING on IBADAN CITY and its hapless citizens. By the laws of GOD and NATURE, you cannot tamper with the WATERSHED of a RIVER and get away with it!

* Modder-Oyefeso, wrote on behalf of ‘Save Our Green Spaces Group’, Ibadan, December 2023.

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