There was drama in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday as Governor Ayo Fayose said he was brutalised by policemen who allegedly stormed the main entrance to the Ekiti State Government House to stop a rally by the Peoples Democratic Party.
Residents said there were gunshots at the main entrance to the Government House while tear gas canisters were reportedly shot to disperse the crowd at the rally.
An eyewitness said the situation became tense when riot-policeman dispersed supporters of PDP governorship candidate in the July 14 election, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, who had gathered at the Fajuyi Pavilion for a rally.
The pavilion is serving as the campaign office for Kolapo Olusola Campaign Organisation.
The PDP supporters who refused to leave the venue of the rally were reportedly forced to by the policemen.
The police allegedly fired canisters of tear-gas to disperse the crowd, saying it had to do so because the organisers did not obtain its permit before embarking on the rally.
Fayose, it was learnt, raced to the scene to prevent the policemen from disrupting the political rally and to rescue his supporters.
But the governor said rather than listen to his entreaties to allow the rally to go on, he was attacked by the riot-policemen, who allegedly fired canisters of tear gas at him.
The governor also claimed he was hit with the butt of a gun by one of the mobile policemen.
However, the dispersed PDP members and supporters later reconvened at the Government House, Ado Ekiti where they were addressed by Fayose and Olusola.
Narrating his ordeal, the governor, who appeared in a cervical brace, wept as he addressed the gathering.
Fayose said, “I was slapped and beaten by mobile policemen in my own state. They shot at me. As I speak with you, I am in severe pains, I am experiencing pains.
“I plead with the international community to intervene. Nigeria is in trouble. Ekiti is in crisis.
“In the last few days, they have arrested PDP members, teachers, and civil servants. People of good conscience should come and save Ekiti.
“They said they were under strict instruction from the Presidency to kill me and my deputy, who is the candidate of our party.
“This is an army of occupation who are here to occupy our land. I want you to stand and remain standing, I pray they don’t kill me and put Ekiti in crisis.
“I plead with the international community to intervene and save Ekiti from this siege. How can a state governor be treated like this in his own state?
“I am passing through these pains because of my people. I will go back to hospital after addressing you to receive further medical treatment,” he said.
Olusola, who had earlier addressed the crowd before Fayose’s arrival, said Ekiti was under siege, just because the “APC is desperate to take over the state.”
“A situation whereby a policeman will slap a sitting governor, this is not good. The President must be warned. The international community should warn President Buhari.
“When they were beating me and Mr governor, I told the Commissioner of Police in charge of MOPOL Unit that you are beating a deputy governor, he told me ‘who is a deputy governor?’ The same thing he said to the governor.
“My mandate is a divine one and the army that is with us is more than those with them. We are not going to be intimidated. We shall go to the election on Saturday and win.”
But the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Operations, Mr. Habilal Joshak, while justifying why the crowd was dispersed, told journalists that the PDP did not obtain a permit for the rally.
“We are not going to allow any unauthorised rally that can trigger violence in the state. You can see that the state is tensed up.
“As law enforcement agents, we must be proactive and take actions that can prevent crisis rather than trying to quell it after it might have broken out,” Joshak said.
However, the Personal Assistant to the Governor on Protocol, Sola Owoeye, was arrested at the Fajuyi area and taken to the Criminal Investigation Department section at the police headquarters in Ado Ekiti.
The police have yet to react to the allegations raised against them by Fayose as of the time of filing this report. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Caleb Ikechukwu, said he would issue an official statement on it but he had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
But Olusola dismissed the police claim, saying many cases determined by the Supreme Court had confirmed that political parties needed no police permit to stage a rally.
It’s comedy of the year, says APC
Reacting, the state chairman of the APC, Chief Jide Awe, said what transpired between the governor and the police could be described as the “comedy of the year.”
“It is entirely a security matter. The governor is the Chief Security Officer and should know how to conduct himself properly in the public.
“Probably it was part of the instruction given to the police as the chief security officer that led to the situation.”
We’ve nothing to do with it – Fayemi
When contacted, the Director of Media and Publicity of Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Mr. Wole Olujobi, said the issue had nothing to do with Fayemi.
“It is a police matter, we have nothing to say about it,” he said.
Our democracy in danger – Ekiti PDP
The PDP chairman in the state, Gboyega Oguntuase, said the country’s democracy was in danger under the present IGP, adding that, “as we speak now, the police have taken over our land, but we shall not be intimidated.”
Also, the senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, said the entire people of the state that put Fayose in government could not be wrong, urging the Federal Government to have a rethink and warn the policemen.
Olujimi said Ekiti people would never resort to violence in spite of the intimidation and harassment of the PDP supporters.
“Our people were being picked up everywhere, over what? If you are popular you won’t be doing all these. Ekiti people will vote for the PDP on Saturday, anything outside a democratically-elected person is a nullity, it is undemocratic,” she added.
The Chairman, House Committee on Information, Samuel Omotoso, said the PDP office in the state capital had been occupied by policemen, describing the action as a return of the country to military era.
Ex-President Jonathan cautions security agents
But former President Goodluck Jonathan has called for caution over the activities of security agencies deployed to Ekiti ahead of the Saturday’s governorship election.
The ex-President’s appeal followed Wednesday’s alleged manhandling of some people including Fayose in Ado Ekiti allegedly by security operatives.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the former President said, “I am appealing to the security agencies deployed in Ekiti State for the governorship election to carry out their duties according to the laws of the land by securing the state in a manner that will enhance a peaceful electoral process.
“If it is true that the state Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, was assaulted as reported in the media, my appeal is that such should not be allowed to happen again, since the governor’s constitutional immunity guarantees that he should be given official protection to freely conduct the business of governing the state.”
The former President further charged the security agencies to not only strive to protect the laws of the land, but also seek to prevent any development that could negatively impact on the process of deepening the nation’s democracy.
Ekiti incident, coup against democracy – Secondus
Also, the national leadership of the PDP has alleged that there is a plan to assassinate Fayose.
It said that if the killing had happened, the Federal Government and the security agencies would have blamed it on what it referred to as “accidental discharge.”
The National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, spoke with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday after the meeting of the party’s National Working Committee.
Secondus spoke in reaction to the alleged invasion of the Ekiti State Government House by security agents in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday.
“In fact, we have been made aware that the invasion was a plot to assassinate Governor Fayose and blame it on accidental discharge by one of the policemen. What happened today is a coup against democracy,” he said.
He added, “The situation in Ekiti State has reinforced the signpost of a manifest desire by the APC and its leaders to subdue the resilient spirit of Nigerians and set up a totalitarian regime in our country.
“This morning, in its desperation to forcefully take over Ekiti State, the APC-led Federal Government deployed armed police personnel, who blocked the Ekiti State Government House, attacked and placed the democratically-elected governor of Ekiti State, Governor Ayodele Fayose, under house arrest. At the moment, no one goes in or out of the Government House.
“The invading police squad sacked the official security at the Government House, fired sporadically into the premises during which Governor Fayose was beaten up by policemen and brought down by volleys of tear gas while several others were injured.
“This, we have been informed, is part of the ‘order from above,’ in line with the earlier boast by the Buhari-led APC, to “cage” Governor Fayose ahead of the July 14, 2018 Ekiti governorship election, so as to grant their agents a field day to rig the election.”
The PDP chairman alleged further that the siege on an elected governor and a government house was a recipe for violence and a complete attack on the democratic order.
He added that it was a direct assault on the corporate existence of Ekiti and its people as a federating part of the nation.
Secondus alleged that the incident was part of the desperate effort by the APC-led Federal Government to intimidate, subjugate, frighten and overawe the people and unleash a rigging mechanism for the election.
He warned thugs which he alleged were imported from neigbouring states to note that they were in Ekiti at their own peril, adding that the Ekiti people and residents knew themselves and would never allow any stranger to participate in the electoral process.
“Any attempt by anybody to test the will of the people might be faced with dire consequences,” he warned.
Atiku says Ekiti incident appalling
Also, a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, said he was appalled at the images coming out of Ekiti in the last few hours.
Atiku said in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday that incidents such as experienced in Ekiti were uncivil assaults on democracy and “fall short of democratic best practices.”
The PDP presidential aspirant said that the current administration came into being because the preceding PDP Federal Government ensured free and fair elections at all levels.
He said, “Having been a beneficiary of such propriety, it is incumbent on the Federal Government not to deprive others of the ladder it was provided by its predecessors.
“Free, fair and credible elections are not a privilege. They are a right! The peaceful congregating of the good people of Ekiti State, be they members of the All Progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party or of any other party, must be allowed by the Federal Government.”
Atiku observed that it was not in the place of government to harass, intimidate, hound and humiliate political opponents in an election.
He said what government should do was to provide a level playing field and guarantee the security of the electorate and the principal political actors in the election.
According to him, “The immunity that a president enjoys under the constitution is the same immunity being enjoyed by a state governor, thus it is an aberration to democratic norms and practices in a federal system of government that one layer of government should muscle out another government on account of political differences.
“The democracy and fundamental human rights that Nigerians enjoy today were earned at a very high price.
“Instructions must be immediately given to all law enforcement bodies on the ground in Ekiti State to act in the best interest of Nigeria,” Atiku added.
He stressed that anything that would put democracy in jeopardy in Ekiti or anywhere else in Nigeria should be stopped forthwith.
Atiku urged those with powers over the security forces to be aware that the world was watching, reminding that democracy and freedom were inalienable rights of the Nigerian people which the PDP guaranteed for 16 years.
“It is too late in the day for anyone to think they can put that genie back into the bottle,” he said.