The campaign for Saturday’s governorship elections in Ekiti State took a dramatic turn yesterday as security operatives who blocked the entrance to Government House, Ado-Ekiti, also fired tear-gas at the governor and his supporters.
But the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Habila Joshak, in a swift reaction, told newsmen that policemen were deployed only to abort the rally since no approval was sought for it.
Governor Ayodele Fayose was said to have fainted and was rushed to Government House clinic where he was treated.
An eyewitness told Vanguard that trouble started when the governor came to the entrance of Government House to ask why PDP members were being dispersed from the pavilion located at Fajuyi Park, where a rally was scheduled to hold.
The governor, on getting wind of how his people were being dispersed promptly ran to the scene and asked why such action was being allegedly taken by the anti-riot policemen.
It was gathered that on getting wind of how his supporters were being dispersed by the police, the governor immediately ran to the spot, while policemen moved towards him and asked him to return to Government House.
However, a source said the policemen threatened to open fire on some of the governor’s aides who became angry about police action.
“When the governor insisted that he should be told why his people were being manhandled, he was asked to go back, but he said he demanded reason the police took the action.
“As the governor insisted, a MOPOL commander fired a tear-gas canister at him and he fell and became unconscious,’’ the source said.
The governor was also said to have sustained a neck injury, following the melee that trailed the firing of tear-gas by the police
I was slapped, beaten — Fayose
Recounting his ordeal, Governor Fayose, who appeared in neck brace, wept profusely while addressing the party members who had earlier been dispersed by policemen.
He explained that the policemen confirmed to him that they were under strict instruction from the Inspector General of police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, that he and his deputy should be got rid off.
He 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 though these pains because of my people. I will go back to the hospital after addressing you to receive further medical treatment.’’
Ekiti under siege — Eleka
His deputy and governorship candidate for Saturday’s election, Olusola, who had earlier addressed the crowd before Fayose’s arrival, said Ekiti is under siege because APC is desperate to take over the state.
“A situation where a policeman will slap a sitting governor, this is not good. The President must be warned, 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 are more than those with them. We are not going to be intimidated. We shall go to the election on Saturday and win,’’ he said.
Olusola said several cases determined by the Supreme Court had confirmed that political parties need not get approval to embark on campaign.
We are not here to undermine the governor—DIG Joshak
Meanwhile, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Habila Joshak, while addressing newsmen on the conduct of the force in the forthcoming poll at Police headquarters, described the PDP’s walk as a rally that was not approved.
Joshak explained that due approval for the event was not obtained by the party from the Police, adding that the Police would not undermine the governor and any citizen of the state but that approval must be given before any political rally could hold.
“We are not here to usurp the authority of Governor Fayose. We are not here to rubbish him because he represents the people
“But we are not going to allow any unauthorized rally that can trigger violence in the state. You can see that the state is tensed up.
“As a law enforcement agency, we must be proactive and take actions that can prevent crisis rather than trying to quell it after it might have broken out,” he said.
Police to withdraw Fayose, Fayemi’s security
Joshak also said the security details of important personalities in Ekiti would be withdrawn on Saturday to add to the credibility of the election, adding that no party would be allowed to hold any political rally not approved by the police until the election was held.
Joshak said he would work with Assistant Inspector General of Police(AIG), Mr. H.H. Karma and three other commissioners — Ali Janga , J.B. Kokumo and G.B. Umar , who will man each of the senatorial districts in the state.
He said they had contacted security details of Governor Fayose and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr Kayode Fayemi and other top government officials to report at 6am at the police headquarters in Ado Ekiti on Saturday.
“We won’t allow anybody to go to the polling booth with armed men. This is a breach of the Electoral Act.
“We have contacted them and they have to be here before election commences. This election must not be compromised. They will be documented and whoever defies this will be sanctioned, because they have been contacted,” he warned.
Joshak urged his men not to work for any political party, saying any police officer found exhibiting such will have himself to blame.
“Those who want to create posts where votes are going to be bought will be disappointed. We are not going to allow it. If you cast your votes, you can keep a distance and protect your votes, but if you snatch the ballot, we will cut off your hands, if you run with it, we will stop your legs.
“If you come out with masquerade on the day of election, we will get it arrested and unmask the man behind it. My men will be civil, so people are free to come out to vote. Nobody will be harassed, that is not part of our duties.
“Our duty is to secure not only the electoral materials but all the citizens. We are going to be professional and watchful, because we don’t want to be bedeviled with cases of hooliganism, ballot snatching and hate speeches before, during and after this election”, he said.
FG must warn Police — Olujimi
Reacting to the incident, the Senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, said the entire people of the state that put Fayose in government couldn’t 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.
“If you are popular, Ekiti people will vote for APC on Saturday, anything outside a democratically elected person is a nullity, it is undemocratic,” she said.
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.
PDP chairman in the state, Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase, said the country’s democracy was in danger under the present IGP.
He said the election of Saturday shall be won by the masses of Ekiti and not by anybody.
“As we speak now, the Police have taken over our land, but we shall not be intimidated,’’ he said.
Hold APC, FG, responsible for Fayose’s ordeal — PDP
Reacting to the development yesterday, the national leadership of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, called on well-meaning Nigerians as well as the international community to hold the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government responsible for the crisis.
Addressing a press conference, tagged “Ekiti: Democracy under attack,” at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja, national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the “siege” on the South-West State by security operatives was part of an alleged plot to rig Saturday’s governorship elections in the state in favour of the APC governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
According to Secondus, yesterday’s commotion at Government House was a testament to a statement earlier credited to the APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, that the opposition would be crushed.
He said: “We invite the entire world to note how the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commision, INEC, are stoking crisis and violence in Ekiti State and to hold them responsible should any harm befall Governor Fayose and should there be any breakdown of law and order before, during and after the poll.
“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 (yesterday) in its desperation to forcefully take over Ekiti State, the APC-led Federal Government deployed armed police personnel led by one Compol Mopol Echel Echel, who blocked the Ekiti State Government House, attacked and placed the democratically elected governor of Ekiti State, Governor Fayose, under house arrest.
‘’The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, boasted that they were going to crush the opposition. Today (Wednesday) the siege has begun,’’ he said.
The PDP boss further narrated the events that culminated in the ordeal allegedly suffered by Governor Fayose, saying “the invading police squad sacked the official security at Government House, fired sporadically into the premises during which Governor Fayose was beaten up by policemen and brought down by volleys of teargas while several others were injured.
While reiterating the determination of the PDP to go to the polls with confidence, Secondus added that in a bid to perfect its ‘rigging plans,’ the federal government has deployed “an APC state governor in each of the local government areas across the state to coordinate the plot.”
He spoke further on moves to compromise the electoral process: “Our intelligence reveals that the 30,000 policemen as well as some compromised military personnel deployed to Ekiti State are being positioned to embark on mass arrest and harassment of Ekiti citizens, with a view to frightening them and preventing them from participating in the election.
“Some heavily armed Department of State Services, DSS, personnel are being deployed to work with some compromised officials of INEC to smuggle in preloaded card reader machines and result sheets, to be exchanged in advance, which they will attempt to deliver to APC agents.
“The PDP is fully aware of the actors in this heinous plot, including some directors in INEC, particularly in its Information Communication Technology (ICT) Department, who have been holding clandestine meetings with APC leaders.’’
APC dismisses PDP’s allegations
Spokesman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, dismissed PDP’s claims yesterday, saying he would not react on the basis that it was part of the drama PDP had been playing for some time.
Attack on Fayose outrageous, barbaric—Afenifere
Also reacting to the incident last night, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the assault on Governor Ayodele Fayose as “an outrageous and barbaric assault that violates all decency and civilised conducts if true.”
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the body expressed worry over the spate of violence ahead of the July 14, 2018, governorship election in Ekiti State, even as it called for a peaceful conduct of the exercise.
The statement read: “Afenifere is disturbed by the news of violence coming out of Ekiti on the eve of the Governorship election in the state .
“We have our fears over deployment of 30,000 police personnel for election in one state while the government cannot mobilise a quarter of that number to secure the lives of Nigerians under savage attacks in different parts of the country “We would not mind though if the men were in the state to secure a peaceful environment for Saturday polls.
“Alas reports in the media have indicated that the violence in Ekiti is being precipitated by the police who were said to have sealed off Government House,m shooting teargas at citizens who have broken no laws.
‘’There has also been a sacrilegious allegation that the governor of the state was assaulted and tear- gassed. This would be an outrageous and barbaric assault that violates all decency and civilised conduct, if true .
“Afenifere calls on the President to rise to the duty of office as the leader of the country to stop the violence and bring perpetrators of this dastardly act to book.
‘’It does not speak well of him that security forces are turning the state to a battleground 24 hours after he campaigned in the state.
“Let it be known that the Yoruba nation expects a peaceful, free and fair elections in the state that will produce a winner freely elected by the people “We warn security forces to do their duty according to the law and desist from violating law abiding citizens. We remind those who have forgotten that the violation of the will of the people in that part of Yorubaland and its consequences contributed largely to the eclipse of the Second Republic .”
Jonathan, Atiku urge caution in Ekiti
Also reacting yesterday, former President Goodluck Jonathan called for caution over the activities of security agencies deployed in Ekiti ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.
His appeal followed yesterday’s alleged manhandling of some people, including the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose in Ado-Ekiti by security operatives.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the former President enjoined security personnel to act within the ambit of the laws of the land, adding that the presence of armed security operatives was meant to give voters the confidence to come out on election day and vote for candidates of their choice, and not to intimidate them.
He said: “I am appealing to the security agencies deployed to 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 enable 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.”
Similarly, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, called for a stop to the crisis rocking Ekiti ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.
The PDP presidential aspirant charged the APC not to forget that it came into being through the conduct of free and fair elections in 2015 by the then ruling PDP.
“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 congregation of the good people of Ekiti State, be they members of the APC or the PDP or of any other party, must be allowed by the federal government,” the statement read.
Atiku observed that it was not the place of government to harass, intimidate, hound and humiliate political opponents in an election, noting that “what government should do is provide a level playing ground and guarantee security of the electorate and the principal political actors in the election.’’
While condemning the alleged assault on Fayose, Atiku noted that: “The immunity that a President enjoys under the constitution is the same immunity being enjoyed by state governors.
‘’Thus, it is an aberration of 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 was earned at a very high price.”
Ekiti Election: AIG, MOPOL Ordered To Kill Me – Fayose