By Toba Suleiman in Ado-Ekiti
Signs of political desperation are showing earlier than usual in Ekiti State, where Mr, Ayodele Jeje, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Erijiyan-Ekiti in Ekiti West Local Government Area of the state was shot dead at the weekend by people suspected to be political thugs.
It was learnt that his killing was a fallout of the rivalry between members of the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the opposition PDP in the state.
Besides Jeje, who was killed on Saturday night, several other members of the PDP, including the mother of a leading member of the party in the town, Mr. Segun Adewumi, also sustained varying degrees of injuries during a sporadic shooting session by some political thugs in the community.
It was gathered that several vehicles and other property belonging to PDP members were destroyed in the attack, which lasted for hours. Those who sustained injuries were said to be receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in the state capital.
THISDAY gathered that the situation in the town had been tense since Thursday when some members of the ACN in the community, led by one Chief Bolu Adewumi and his younger brother, Segun, were planning to defect from the party to the opposition yesterday.
According to a source, trouble started when gunmen invaded a meeting, held in the house of one of the PDP leaders in the town, where the members planning to defect were perfecting the arrangement for their defection, and started shooting sporadically.
In the process, one person was confirmed dead while several others sustained injuries, just as several vehicles were destroyed.
But the ACN that was fingered in the mayhem denied any involvement, saying it had no connection with the incident. It blamed the attack on intra-party rivalry between two factions of the state chapter of the PDP.
The state chapter of the PDP in a statement by its chairman, Mr. Makanjuola Ogundipe, said Jeje, Adewumi and others were attacked while they were meeting to fine-tune their preparation “for a programme where Chief Bolu Adewumi wants to lead over 1,000 members of ACN to PDP.”
Ogundipe in the statement signed on his behalf by Femi Omolusi, said: “Many were injured and cars were damaged.”
Another source said cars belonging to a leader of the PDP in the state, Senator Clement Awoyelu, were vandalised in the attack.
The Ekiti PDP chairman called on the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to intervene and also urged the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sotonye Wakama, to bring the perpetrators to book.
Condemning the attacks, Adewumi said the people planned to move out of their former party based on the fact that they have lost hope and confidence in the leadership of ACN in the state due to its failure to address the plight of the people in the community.
However, the ACN denied that its members attacked the PDP, saying it was rather a clash between members of two factions of the PDP in the area.
Denying the incident, Chairman of the ACN in Ekiti State, Chief Olajide Awe, also an indigene of the community, said the incident had nothing to do with his party, adding that the build-up to the crisis had started since Thursday when some PDP members who belonged to a former governor’s group clashed with members of another group in the party over a planned rally by the former in the community.
According to Awe, the community had been tense since Thursday following the arrival of Adewumi, whom he said was the financier of the group and his younger brother, Segun, who he said was the coordinator of the group.
The ACN chairman, who denied that Segun was a former member of his party, however confirmed that he ( Adewumi) had once indicated interest to contest the House of Assembly election under the ACN in the 2011 general election.
“Since he was not allowed to contest based on the fact that he is still a serving civil servant in Lagos State, he has not been working with the ACN in the town,” he added.
However, when Wakama was contacted on phone for his comment, he said: “When they (apparently referring to his men) come back from the place I will tell whether somebody was killed or not.”
Meanwhile, police have beefed up security in the community to forestall any breakdown of law and order.