Tunde Olanrewaju, Abeokuta
The sleepy town of Wasimi in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State became a battle ground on Thursday as rival factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) stepped up the tempo of violence introduced into the crisis rocking the party when thugs wielding guns, machetes and other dangerous weapons stormed a gathering organised by Senator Gbenga Obadara (APC, Ogun Central Senatorial District).
Obadara’s police orderly, Sgt. Sunday Akinbode, was among eight persons who suffered varying degrees of injuries at the gathering. The policeman was shot in his upper thigh by what an eye witness claimed were pellets from a pump action rifle. The gathering was a stakeholders meeting of APC members, which would have ended with the commissioning of one of Obadara’s constituency projects before the violence began.
Those who escaped death by the whiskers include Senator Akin Odunsi (APC, Ogun West Senatorial District), a member of the House of Representatives representing Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency, Hon. Olumide Osoba, and his colleague from Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency, Hon. Adekunle Adeyemi.
Briefing newsmen after the attack, Obadara accused the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, as the mastermind of the attack, claiming that it was part of an orchestrated attempt to intimidate supporters of perceived internal opponents of the governor from being part of registration of APC members scheduled to start next week.
In a swift reaction, Amosun denied complicity in the violence. A statement by a media aide of the governor, Mr. Sola Balogun, distanced Amosun from the attack, arguing that those peddling the rumour were trying to score cheap political points.
He said, “The news of the alleged attack was shocking to me. All the leaders of APC as well as chairmen of our local councils were in Lagos to celebrate with Baba BIsi Akande. It is even more curious that some chieftains of our party would choose a time to honour our revered leader for another meeting. The motive is certainly questionable. The alleged thuggery has all the trappings of a stage-managed event, with the aim of attempting to take over the machinery of our great party through subterfuge. But we will not be taken in by such blackmail.” Amosun commiserated with victims of the violence and called on the police to bring the perpetrators to book.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muyiwa Adejobi, said that five policemen, including the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ewekoro, Mr. Ibrahim Jubril, and the orderly of the Area Commander Ota, were injured.
But Adejobi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, denied that the police took sides in the violence. According to Adejobi, “When the atmosphere was not conducive, the police suggested that the programme be postponed. Later, the Obadara group went to another place and it was there the violence began. Police dispersed the rival groups with teargas. While the two groups were fighting, somebody released shots. Five policemen and a civilian were injured. The DPO Ewekoro was injured; the orderly to Area Commander Ota was also injured. It was an ugly incident. The police later restored normalcy.”