The political crisis rocking Ekiti State deepened on Friday as Governor Kayode Fayemi declared dusk till dawn curfew in the state.
In a live broadcast in Ado-Ekiti on Friday, Fayemi said, “There would be no
movement between the hours of 7.00 p.m and 7.00 am everyday till further notice.
movement between the hours of 7.00 p.m and 7.00 am everyday till further notice.
“We urge the citizenry to be vigilant and provide the security agencies with details of suspicious activities that can undermine the peace in our state.”
The declaration followed widespread violence across the state capital on Friday following Thursday’s killing of a former Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Omolafe Aderiye, by gunmen.
The office of Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation and three vehicles in the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress were burnt in the early hours of Friday.
Last Monday, hoodlums invaded the Ekiti State High Court presided over by Justice Olusegun Ogunyemi to disrupt proceedings in a case challenging the eligibility of the Governor-elect, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, to contest the June 21 election won by him.
The invasion occurred shortly after the judge refused an application to set aside an order abridging the time for the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate to file his defence in the case filed by two members of the Ekiti-11, Mr. Adeniyi Ajakaiye and Olufemi Ajayi.
On Thursday, another judge, Justice John Adeyeye, was beaten by some thugs who also tore his suit.
There was also tension at the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Thursday in a matter between the APC and Fayose.
Tracing the genesis of the violence to the Monday attack on Justice Ogunyemi, Fayemi indicted law enforcement agencies for not doing enough to avoid the situation.
He said, “This happened in full glare of the law enforcement agents with inappropriate response. Clearly, these brigands exceeded the limits of acceptable behavior, even in the most liberal of democracies, and ventured into the realm of blatant criminality with this desecration of the hallowed chambers of the law.
“The fact that this assault did not meet with any strong deterring repercussions from the appropriate authorities further emboldened the miscreants.
“They subsequently attempted to prevent the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal from sitting, yesterday, Thursday, September 25. I am advised incontrovertibly that thugs acting on the command of Mr. Ayo Fayose, who was also present to lend his clout to the travesty, brazenly assaulted a senior judge and urged his thugs to beat him up and tear his clothes.”
He added, “Since the beginning of this development on Monday, which is unprecedented in the recent history of our state, I have been in touch with the heads of all security agencies at the state and federal levels, urging them to act quickly and firmly in the interest of public law and order. It is worrisome that the slow and inadequate response has occasioned the avoidable escalation of violence in our dear state.”
The governor described the use of violence and intimidation to obstruct the course of justice as an invitation to anarchy.
He appealed to the political elite to exercise caution as the state is in the transition era, asking stakeholders to support efforts to ensure that Ekiti State come out of the crisis stronger.
Fayemi said, “We must rescue our state from the precarious slippery slope that some have desperately pushed us to. We should not imperil the very people we seek to serve by resorting to violence and brigandage. One does not burn down his homestead to establish his claim of ownership or leadership.
“Most assuredly, the course of Justice can only be delayed, but can never be truncated. The independence of the Judiciary is an inviolable tenet of any democracy.”
The governor said he had directed the Attorney General of the state, Mr. Wale Fapohunda, to issue a legal advisory to the Chief Judge, Ayodeji Daramola, and all the parties to the existing cases in the State High Court and the Ekiti State Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal, on the desirability of seeking an alternative venue for the hearing of these cases outside Ekiti State.
“The State can no longer afford to witness the bizarre spectacle of the beating up of judicial officers and wanton intimidation of lawyers and court personnel.”
Fayemi, who noted that the security agencies had taken control of the situation, urged them not to relent in performing their constitutional role of protecting lives and property in the state.
“Administrations come and go; politics can be frenetic when the stakes are high; but by the grace of the Almighty God, our state remains for all time, therefore the peace of our land is not negotiable.”
The Governor appealed to the people to see themselves as brothers despite their political differences by embracing civility and empathy.
“Let us deal truthfully with our youth, who are so liable to be led astray by unbridled political fervour, by seeing them as our children rather than as conscripts or fodder for our objectives.
“Let us work together to stop the violence and brigandage that has brought about serious embarrassment to our state in the last few days.”
Police begin investigation
The Ekiti State Police Command has begun investigation into the alleged killing of a former Ekiti State chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Omolafe Aderiye.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Victor Babayemi, also announced the arrest of some suspects over the violence that erupted in the state on Friday.
Aderiye was a staunch supporter of the Governor-elect, Mr. Ayo Fayose.
A statement entitled “Murder of Chief Aderiye Omolafe and the attendant civil unrest” made available to journalists, Babayemi said, “In the last 24 hours, Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, has witnessed series of unpleasant events.”
He recalled that the police in the early hours of Thursday reacted to the rowdy situation by some people around the high court premises in Ado-Ekiti by dispersing them and escorting judges and lawyers out of the court premises to their various abode.
Babayemi said, “Regrettably, while the police were reviewing their strategies at putting an end to rowdiness in and around the court premises, the news of the killing came in.
“And, in response, the Commissioner of Police led policemen out all night and was able to forestall the breakdown of law and order generated by the killing.
“However, in the morning hoodlums started coming out in droves, taking to the streets of Ado-Ekiti and causing carnage by setting fire on some buildings, vehicles and property.
“The Commissioner of Police again reacted by leading senior officers on patrol to curtail the situation. With this prompt and decisive response, the situation in Ado-Ekiti metropolis was brought under effective control.
Babayemi, however, warned that anyone found flouting the curfew order by Fayemi would be dealt with.
NBA raises investigative team
The Nigerian Bar Association has said that it will send what it called “a high powered team” to Ekiti State to investigate Monday’s and Thursday’s attack on judges and disruption of court proceedings in the state.
The NBA President said in a statement on Friday that the association would ensure that anyone found to be involved in the “show of shame” would be made to face the wrath of the law.
The statement read, “The NBA is sending a high powered team to Ekiti to investigate the facts surrounding this matter. Any person(s), no matter how highly placed, found involved in this show of shame and desecration of our courts will surely face the full force of the law as NBA will ensure prosecution of such person(s).
“We will not sit idly while persons who do not mean well for our society take steps capable of plunging our country into anarchy.”
The Ado-Ekiti branch of the association also condemned the attack, describing the development as primitive and crude.
Addressing journalists in Ado-Ekiti, the branch chairman, Mr. Joseph Adewumi and the Secretary, Mr. Gbemiga Adaramola, urged the state Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, to beef up security within and outside the premises of courts in the state.
APC seeks Fayose’s arrest
The All Progressives Congress has called for the arrest and prosecution of the Ekiti State Governor-elect, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, for allegedly leading thugs to beat up a judge and instigating his supporters to attack and burn public property in the state.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC said since Fayose had yet to enjoy immunity, he should be arrested for prosecution.
The APC said it was necessary to act fast to prevent anarchists and crude individuals from taking the laws into their hands and tampering with the administration of justice because the attack on Justice John Adeyeye came a few days after pro-Fayose and pro-PDP thugs invaded a court room in the state.
The party said, “Even though Fayose has not assumed office, he has succeeded in taking Ekiti State back to Egypt within a few months of his ‘election’. Not only are judges being attacked, the kind of killings and chaos that characterised his first time in charge of the state have already started.
“He is struggling hard to ensure that Ekiti is no longer in the league of states where disputes are settled in courts, instead on the streets, and judges preside in the administration of justice.”
Fayose, PDP react
The Ekiti State Governor-elect, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has condemned Thursday’s killing of the former state NURTW Chairman, Omolafe Aderiye, as barbaric and political.
Fayose, who visited Aderiye’s widow on Friday, described the killing as barbaric and political.
He said, “We were together till about 5pm yesterday (Thursday). But taking his life is not an option. It is not the best. This is irreparable and we have come here to sympathise with the family. If this other party are sure they are not the one who is responsible for the killing, they should be courageous enough to come and pay a condolence visit to his family.”
Reacting to Fayemi’s comment in which he tactically blamed Fayose for inciting the mob action against the court officials, the governor-elect said, “Fayemi is a defeated man, so I don’t expect anything better from him. I see him as governor until his time is over. So, I would rather not join issues with him. It is reckless for anybody to be making assertions on an incident he didn’t witness.”
The Peoples Democratic Party also condemned Aderiye’s killing.
A statement issued in Ado-Ekiti by the state PDP Publicity Secretary, Kola Oluwawole, described the killing as an act of wickedness, barbaric and satanic.
The statement read, “We have raised the alarm on the clandestine move by Fayemi and his men to attack Fayose and some notable leaders in all the 16 local government areas as from September 22, 2014 while the killing of Aderiye, who is one of the notable leaders of the PDP in Ado Ekiti occurred on the 25th of the same month, this has vindicated our earlier claims.
“We don’t have any doubt in our mind if the information at our disposal is anything to go by and the murder incident that has been linked directly with the All Progressives Congress members across the state in the past.”