By Ugo Aliogo
Aides of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) factional president, Gani Adams, physically manhandled and issued a death threat, to THISDAY features reporter, Olaleye Akintola, after a scheduled meeting with the group, at the residence of the OPC leader in Abule-Ado area of Lagos.
In a petition signed by the reporter, to the Commissioner of Police, the police headquarters in Lagos, and made available to the press. The Oodua People’s Congress under the auspices of Olokun Festival Foundation had prior to the assault, agreed to sponsor Akintola on a trip to attend a biogas international convention, Germany in official capacity, but hid their personal interest in the sponsorship.
According to available facts, unbeknown to the reporter, it was a ploy by the formidable group, to administer membership oath on Akintola, as part of the ritual of initiation.
In the available statements, Akintola was in the retinue of journalists earlier invited by the OPC group, to report at the annual Oodua festival, Ile-Ife, sponsored by the group, and was subsequently invited to come and pick up the cash needed to cover his travel expenses, at the residence of the leader of the group in Lagos.
The statement reads in part: ´´ I had approached the leader of the group, Otunba Gani Adams, for sponsorship, after I got an invitation to attend a biogas trade fair and convention in Germany. I used to have a good working relationship with the OPC, as a journalist. Gani Adams gave me all the documents I needed to present at the embassy.
I was a bit apprehensive, when he told me I was going to be campaigning for the incumbent president, during run up for elections, upon my return from the trip. I never took him seriously, till I was invited to his residence, on arriving from the Oodua festival in Ile-Ife. I was forced to take a blood oath and swallow some strange substances amid punching and slapping, in the presence of heavily armed members of the group. I was warned never to divulge the secret of what I saw to anyone, else I will be killed.
However, the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Deji Elumoye, when contacted, explained that it is not uncommon for journalists to be attacked in pre-election and post election period. He warned interest groups and associations who are hell-bent on hijacking the media in furthering their parochial ambition during election period, to desist from Anti-social behaviors as that. He lamented the complicity inherent in the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria. He therefore assures Akintola and others in the same predicament that the NUJ will stand by them, in seeking justice.