The All Progressives Congress has vowed not to allow strangers to take over Ekiti State.
Its Chairman in the state, Chief Jide Awe, said during the state Congress in Ado-Ekiti on Sunday, that the party had “men and women of honour who aregoing to be at the vanguard of this struggle” to upturn the emergence of Mr. Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party as the state governor-elect.
Awe, who was returned as chairman after eight years in office, said, “This is our land. The land of the progressives, We won’t allow any stranger to take it from us.
“The struggle for emancipation of Ekiti State has just started. I know we have men and women of honour who are going to be at the vanguard of this struggle. We at the head of the struggle will not shack in our responsibility.”
He however did not name those he described as strangers.
Governor Kayode Fayemi, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Modupe Adelabu, said he was optimistic that the APC would “overtake and recover “ the state from the PDP.
He however appealed to opposition parties in the state to stop fighting over APC’s petition at the election petitions tribunal.
Fayemi said, “The APC is getting stronger. The party is on the ground, effectively, efficiently and absolutely. From what I have witnessed, we still have a firm grip of the state.”
In a veiled reference to the PDP, the governor pointed out there was no reason for anyone, group or party to fight “if you don’t have skeleton in your cupboard.”
He said, “The tribunal will be an opportunity for everybody to prove we have an authentic result. I wonder why people don’t want the tribunal to sit. This shows we should put our mind to rest. In our pursuit, we are going to overtake, we are going to recover.”
Chief Sam Jaja, the leader of the national delegation which supervised the congress, congratulated the newly-elected APC officers in the state. Describing them as committed people, he added, “You are not cowards. I know that come 2015, you will come out with your supporters to vote enmasse for the APC.”
The new officers include Kemi Olaleye, deputy chairman; Paul Omotosho, state secretary; Gbenga Agbeyo, assistant secretary; Sola Omolayo, treasurer; Taiwo Olatubosun, publicity secretary; Femi Ogundana, Youth leader; Iyabo Babatunde, Auditor and Ronke Okusanya, Woman Leader.
But Fayose, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, said the APC leaders were only deceiving themselves.
He said, “The APC leaders, especially, in Ekiti State are only deceiving themselves. If they think they are progressives, they are not because they are pretenders. They are wolves in sheep skin. PDP has won in Ekiti State; so, the APC should forget it.
“I want the Ekiti APC to know that by 2015, APC will exist only in name, especially in this state. It will have no structure because its members would have defected to the PDP.
“We are going to do this with landmark projects. Laudable programmes to be embarked upon by Fayose would make them to defect. For them to be saying they will recover Ekiti is just an imagination. They are daydreaming; it will never come to reality. For the next 50 years, APC will not come back to Ekiti State.”
Also, the state PDP Publicity Secretary, Kola Oluwawole, said it was wrong for progressives that make up the PDP in the state to be referred to as strangers
He said, “We don’t have any trouble with the tribunal because the election was free and fair. What we are complaining against is the procedure adopted by the judge in the case by the Ekiti 11.
“On the contrary, we (PDP) are the progressives. APC members in the state are not progressives; they are retrogressives. If they are progressives, they will know how to accept defeat.”
Tension mounts in Ekiti as police beef up security
There was still tension in Ado-Ekiti on Sunday as news of a reprisal by suspected members of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria spread in the city.
The state chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Mr. Omolafe Aderiye, a staunch supporter of Fayose, was killed last Thursday by persons believed to be political thugs.
His death caused the violence that led to the burning down of the residence of a former state chairman of the RTEAN, Mr. Rotimi Olabiwonu and five vehicles belonging to him by people yet to be identified on Friday.
The threat of reprisal is coming on the heels of a fresh allegation by the PDP that the APC had concluded plans to import thugs from Lagos.
But the APC said the allegation was a figment of the imagination of the PDP.
Aderiye, a staunch supporter of Fayose, was considered as a rival to Olabiwonu, a Fayemi loyalist.
The news of an imminent reprisal attack by the RTEAN members made motorists and commuters to avoid the Ajilosun area of Ado-Ekiti.
Police have however beefed up security around Ajilosun, Ijigbo, Old Garage , Fajuyi Park and Ojumose junctions which are considered the flashpoints of the city.
About 10 pick-up vans carrying riot policemen and soldiers were seen moving towards the areas which were taken over by RTEAN members.
The PDP, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary in the state, Kola Oluwawole, on Sunday called on security agencies to be on the lookout for troublemakers.
It said, “Only last Monday, we raised the alarm that the APC had commissioned some people to attack PDP leaders and were threatening PDP leaders, some people said we were only raising false alarm. But three days later, Chief Aderiye, a leader of the PDP in Ado-Ekiti was killed.
“We have it on good authority that the APC has commissioned thugs coming in four 18-seater buses to Ekiti. They were said to have left Lagos around 11pm on Saturday. They were armed with acid, cutlasses, guns, sledge hammers, syringes and other dangerous weapons to harm the people of Ekiti State.
“These thugs will appear in PDP vests and fez caps to execute their dastardly act within one month.
“Certainly, they are likely to have arrived in Ekiti by now. They will move about on motorcycles to execute their dastardly act.
“Ekiti people who gave their mandate to Fayose are their targets and as well the PDP members. The APC thugs are on a revenge mission to avenge the defeat of Fayemi in the June 21 election and for aborting last Monday’s judicial coup.
“Ekiti people are enjoined to be vigilant and to report any strange element to the police.”
The state Police Command had earlier said it had received “an intelligence report that some hooligans within the state and their accomplices outside the state are planning to wreak more havoc and disrupt further, the existing fragile peace in the state.”
In a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Victor Babayemi, entitled “Mayhem and threat to peace in Ekiti, “ the command said it had placed its men on the red alert to prevent bandits from carrying out nefarious activities in the state.
It said, “The state Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, has ordered the deployment of adequate manpower to embark on extensive vehicle and foot patrols on every nook and cranny of the state.
“He has equally directed that policemen should henceforth embark on thorough search of vehicles and pedestrians so as to forestall importation of dangerous weapons.
“In view of the current happenings in the state, the Commissioner of Police wishes to warn that any person or group of persons that have no lawful business in the state to stay away.
“He further warned that the full weight of the law will be visited on any individual or group fomenting, aiding or abetting the commission of crime in any part of the state.”
The command said it had been empowered to enforce the dusk to dawn curfew and therefore warned residents to abide very strictly with the order.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association in Ilesa, Osun State, Mr. Olayinka Sokoya, has condemned the attack on judges and lawyers in Ekiti State.
Sokoya, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Osogbo on Sunday, advised that those who sponsored the attacks should be punished.
He said that it was disheartening that a judge could be so attacked on the premises of a court while security agents watched without taking action.
While condemning the police and other security agencies for allowing attacks on the court twice within a week, he said those behind the attacks should not be allowed to go unpunished.
Sokoya said, “court is regarded as a sacred place but thugs with the backing of their political fathers have violated its sacredness and they should be punished.
“Security should be beefed up at the premises of every court, not only in Ekiti State. What some hoodlums did in Ekiti State could be repeated elsewhere if security is not tight around the courts.”
A magistrate at the Osun State Judiciary, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also condemned the attack on the judges and lawyers in Ekiti State.
The magistrate said that perpetrators must be brought to justice.
He said, “ As far as I am concerned, this is a bad signal for our democracy. If there is a dispute between two political actors, the best step to take is to approach the court. But a situation where the court is no longer safe should be a concern to everybody.”
According to him, judges may be afraid of sitting if there is no adequate security for them especially inside the courts.
Also, the APC in Osun State has linked the attack on the judiciary in Ekiti State to President Goodluck Jonathan’s alleged second term bid.
The party, in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy in the state, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, also described Fayose as the arrowhead of the Peoples Democratic Party’s alleged plan to execute the President’s plan.
It accused him of being behind the attack on the Ekiti High Court, an action it believed posed a grave danger to the nation’s democracy.
The statement read, “The fact that Federal Government security officials stood by and watched while Fayose and his rampaging horde of thugs were beating up a judge and hurling objects at lawyers is a clear indication that the PDP is complicit.
“It is imperative not only that Fayose and his thugs should be made accountable, everything should be done to let President Jonathan realise that no Federal Government has ever survived by creating anarchy in the South-West.
“The earlier this lesson is learnt by the Jonathan administration, the better for democracy in Nigeria.
“Fayose should be closely watched because he appears to represent PDP’s game plan of using the rule of the jungle to capture and sustain itself in power. Fayose is possibly the arrowhead of that strategy in the South West.”
But the Osun State branch of the PDP accused the APC in the state of planning to commit arson by using thugs who would disguise as members of the PDP.
The Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP in the state, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, added that the APC was planning to cause massive crisis just like the one in Ekiti State in order to stop the Election Petition Tribunal from sitting.
Odeyemi, in a statement said, “ We are constrained to alert the general public to an ongoing plot by the APC to forment trouble in Osun State and blame it on the PDP. We have it on good authority that the Government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has perfected plans to commit arson through its agents who will disguise as members of the PDP.”
The magistrate added, “It is barbaric and everybody should speak against it. The society would descend into anarchy if judges, lawyers as well as litigants are no longer safe in the court.
“Security should be beefed up in all court across the nation because this kind of barbaric behaviour has the tendency to spread if those behind it are not the quickly brought to justice.
“Judges are human beings and they don’t have spare lives, many of us could stop sitting if we feel unsafe.”