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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Nigerian vigilante leader charged
OPC crowd
The OPC is accused of orchestrating ethnic violence
The leader of a banned vigilante group in Nigeria has been charged with murder, robbery, firearms offences and incitement.

Ganiyu Adams was arrested on Wednesday a year after a warrent had been issued for his detention.

He appeared in court in Lagos with three other members of the Odua People's Congress, OPC, all accused of orchestrating ethnic violence and the murder of a police man last year.

Aftermath of Lagos violence
More than 100 people died in violence between ethnic Yorubas and Hausas
They pleaded not guilty and were remanded in custody until next month.

On Thursday, members of the OPC brought the main market in Lagos to a standstill, demanding the release of their leader.

The police in Lagos have apprehended the notorious leader of a banned ethnic militia group.

The OPC were set up to combat the dramatic increase in armed crime in the commercial capital in recent years.

But the group has been heavily criticised for their violent tactics and for provoking ethnic violence.

Lagos has an infamous reputation for armed crime, well beyond the control of its poorly resourced police force.

Capture

As leader of the OPC, Gani Adams had been taunting police in Lagos for many months, appearing at public meetings and speaking openly to the press despite being wanted on murder charges.

Hausa refugees
Thousands of Hausas fled to military barracks for protection during the unrest
He was always surrounded by well-armed members of his group and there was little the police could do.

But the police got lucky earlier this week.

According to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Emmanuel Adebayo, Mr Adams' car was stopped at a routine checkpoint. The occupants panicked and ran.

Policemen only held their fire when Mr Adams revealed his identity and called on the police not to shoot.

He was taken away at gunpoint.

Fear

The OPC vigilantes are popular in Lagos - they have had some success in fighting crime.

However, as an organisation dedicated to the defence of the ethnic Yoruba, they are distrusted by other groups.

In particular they are hated and feared in northern Nigeria, where they are blamed for a series of bloody ethnic clashes between Yorubas and northerners which took place in Lagos last year and in 1999.

See also:

13 Jul 01 | Africa
Nigerian police target vigilantes
18 Oct 00 | Africa
Eyewitness: Carnage in Lagos
18 Oct 00 | Africa
Nigeria: A nation divided?
17 Oct 00 | Africa
Curfew follows Nigerian violence
01 Mar 00 | Africa
Nigerian riots kill hundreds
28 Nov 99 | Africa
Nigeria riots 'killed 100'
25 May 00 | Africa
Nigeria's year of turmoil
20 Oct 00 | Africa
Nigeria clampdown: Will it work?
11 May 01 | Africa
Nigeria's trigger happy police
19 Jul 01 | Africa
Crime war rages in Nigeria
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