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Ogun gets rough as party thugs unleash terror

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[FILE] Tinubu

The ugly incident that played out during the presidential rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abeokuta did not surprise many that have followed the political trajectory in Ogun State. But the only surprise was the magnitude of desperation on the part of the actors. The national leadership of the party was pelted with missiles and greatly embarrassed.

President Muhammadu Buhari was also not spared. Save for the brave security men that formed a wall to defend the APC presidential candidate, the story could have been different.

Before the macabre drama, which many have described as a dress rehearsal to what may happen in the remaining two weeks of this election, Ogun State had become the theatre of politically motivated violence, no thanks to the bi-partisan disposition of the leaders, particularly the camp of Governor Ibikunle Amosun. The governor has not hidden his plan as the Chief Promoter of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), where his godson, Adekunle Akinlade is the governorship candidate. Having one leg in the APC and the other in APM has been generating political heat in the state.

But the APM/APC hullabaloo is not the only cause of tension in the state. The internal crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), between supporters of Senator Buruji Kashamu, purportedly the governorship candidate of the party, and Hon Oladipupo Adebutu was the reason the party abandoned its presidential campaign in the state. The PDP head office is giving time for local stakeholders to sort out their differences.

But the tempo in the APC has got to a head. On the morning of that fateful Tuesday, what was to come showed early as hoodlums removed campaign billboards of APC’s governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun, leaving that of APM’s Akinlade.

Shortly after that, some suspected thugs bearing APM insignia stormed the stadium and launched attack on Abiodun’s supporters who had strategically positioned themselves in the front row. Those of them that were not smart to remove and hide their yellow T-Shirts were beaten blue and black and sent out of the stadium. Some that resisted them were wounded. While the onslaught lasted, policemen looked elsewhere and did not come to their rescue.

That the Presidential campaign in Ogun State was organised by the APM was not in doubt, given the actors that played vital roles in the event. Unlike King Wasiu Ayinde that played music at most of the APC national programmes, a local Fuji Musician Sefiu Alao was on stage. He sang praises of Amosun, Akinlade and most candidates of the APM and derided the leadership of the APC throughout the event. The musician, whose inciting lyrics got the crowd enraged, called the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu unprintable names.

As if that were not enough, Sarafa Tunji Ishola who said the opening prayer employed similar innuendos to deride APC leaders. He is the Director General of the APM campaign organisation.

While the suspended state chairman of the party, Chief Derin Adebiyi and his former executive members were visibly directing the affairs, the Caretaker Committee set up by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and headed by Chief Yemi Sanusi and his members were not allowed into the podium by APM thugs.

Abiodun, the APC governorship candidate was a pitiable sight. His mien drew sympathy, not only from the party chieftains. He was lonesome. He was not only denied the ceremonial outfit (Aso ebi) but he was severally insulted.

If some of the party leaders could not call a spade by its name, former Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola condemned the treacherous attitude of some APC leaders in Ogun State and warned them of the consequences of being disloyal to the party. He pointedly told them that it was not descent to campaign for another party at a programme that was meant for APC. He was booed out of the stage.

The crowd was uncontrollable, to the extent that they did not heed pleadings of Amosun as he begged them not to “disgrace him.” He said, “I beg you to give peace a chance, don’t disgrace me, our father, President Buhari is here. This is what they wanted to happen, please don’t allow them, don’t disgrace me.” But his pleas were ignored; prompting some to think he was just being sycophantic.

If the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo thought he would be respected and honoured as a “son of the soil,” the manner the crowd reacted to him proved him wrong. Osinbajo was allowed to speak within the limit that he asked them to vote for Buhari, but as soon as he was ventured to campaign for other candidates of the APC, the crowd rudely stopped him, followed by missiles of pure water sachet.

And if anybody was in doubt where President Buhari stands, regarding anti-party activities, his speech must have cleared the doubt. He told them to vote for him and any other candidate of their choice. He said it was their right to do so.

But the party leadership still forced it on him to raise the hand of Abiodun as a mark of approval of his candidature. Buhari did that and that angered the crowd and they went haywire and threw objects at the President. The event hurriedly came to an end.

The situation forced Tinubu and others in his entourage to abruptly leave the venue of the rally. While apologising to the President, the Publicity Secretary of the Caretaker Tunde Oladunjoye in a press release blamed Amosun for the incident.

He said: “The Ogun State Caretaker Committee led by Chief Yemi Sanusi tenders unreserved apology to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari over the gross misconduct, indiscipline, disrespect and disorder perpetrated by agents of Governor Amosun.
“Governor Amosun, using thugs and other urchins wrecked havoc on members and supporters of the All Progressives Congress for wearing yellow vests and caps of Dapo Abiodun.”

Also, the NWC of the party vowed to mete out sanctions against Amosun for the disgrace he caused the party leadership and for embarrassing the President.

But the erstwhile Publicity Secretary of the dissolved state exco, Wole Elegbede described the threat by the national leadership as media trial and jungle justice.

Elegbede, said: “It is common for the National Working Committee of the party to subject members of the APC in Ogun State to media trial and jungle justice. The dissolution of the APC executive in the state was done without inviting us to face any disciplinary committee in accordance with the constitution of the party. They just announced the dissolution in the media. That is nothing but media trial and jungle justice. They have started again. This issue of disciplining the governor of Ogun State will end up the same way. We believe that it will end up the same way: Jungle justice and media trial.”

While the blame game continues, some party thugs are now let loose in the state to demobilise the opposition. Only on Wednesday, the former Speaker of the State and Ogun Central Senatorial candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Mrs. Titi Oseni-Gomez escaped assassination bid and her vehicle was riddled with bullet.

Kunle Isiaka, younger brother of the ADC governorship candidate Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka also escaped assassination on Thursday in a renewed assault on the opposition. Kunle Isiaka said he was trailed by an unmarked vehicle at Shagamu junction to Siun, an Abeokuta suburb by some gun-wielding assailants that shot at his vehicle twice but turned back when they got to a check point manned by soldiers and police.

A PDP chieftain in the state, Mr. Raheem Ajadi has called on security agencies to investigate politically motivated violence in the state. He said it is getting risky for the residents to sleep with their two eyes closed.


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