â€¢ Police: He is play-acting
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Shola Oyeyipo in Lagos and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, Wednesday wept publicly, claiming that policemen slapped him and exploded teargas canisters on a crowd of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters that were gathering in front of Government House, Ado Ekiti, for an address by him.
â€œI 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. How can a state governor be treated like this?â€ the governor told members of his party at the Government House.
But the police in a swift reaction by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operations, Mr. Habila Joshak, dismissed Fayoseâ€™s claim, saying the governor was play-acting.
The police boss said the governorâ€™s claims was the normal antics of politicians who play to the gallery, explaining that the alleged blockade of the Government House was not intended to ridicule the governor.
However, Fayose claimed to have sustained injury on his neck from alleged battery on the order of a Commissioner of Police in charge of MOPOL Unit.
The alleged incidence drew the condemnation of the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who at a press conference in Abuja said the All Progressives Congress (APC) government was endangering democracy by its intolerance of opposition politics.
The party, in statement by its National Organising Secretary, Col Austin Akobundu (rtd), later Wednesday directed its branches nationwide to march on the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Commands to submit a letter of protest of the incidence to the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, through the commissioners of police.
It said: â€œThe National Working Committee has directed all our state chairmen to mobilise our members to embark on peaceful protest in the state capitals.
â€œThe chairmen are to mobilise former NWC members, BoT members/ former governors, all state executives members, executive members of the party at all levels and stakeholders along with our teaming supporters, to embark on peaceful procession to the state police command in their respective states to protest the police brutality that happened today in Ekiti State.â€
But denying Fayoseâ€™s account of the incidence, Joshak told newsmen in Ado-Ekiti that the Government House was never blocked nor attacked by the police, clarifying that the policemen only restricted movement on some roads leading from Fajuyi Square area of the capital and the State Secretariat.
Joshak said: â€œWe 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 unauthorised rally that can trigger violence in the state. You can see that the state is tensed up. As law enforcement agents, we must be proactive and take actions that can prevent crisis rather than trying to quell it after it might have broken out.â€
Fayose and his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, who had earlier addressed PDP members in the Government House, said they were hit with the butt of guns, leading to the injury the governor sustained on his neck.
Recounting his ordeal, the governor, who appeared in a neck brace, wept profusely while addressing the party members who had earlier been dispersed by policemen in front of the Government House where they had converged for a rally.
Fayose said: â€œI am passing through these pains because of my people. I will go back to the hospital after addressing you for further medical treatment. In the last few days, they have arrested PDP members, teachers, and civil servants. People of good conscience should come and save Ekiti.â€
The senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi, said the federal government should call the police to order, adding that Ekiti people would never resort to violence in spite of the intimidation and harassment of PDP supporters.
The Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon. 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.
The partyâ€™s state Chairman, Mr. Gboyega Oguntuase, said democracy was in danger under IG Idris.
Jonathan, Afenifere call for caution
Reacting to the incidence, former President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, called for caution over the activities of security agencies deployed in Ekiti ahead of Saturdayâ€™s scheduled governorship election.
In a statement Wednesday by Jonathanâ€™s spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the former president enjoined security personnel deployed in the state 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: â€œI am appealing to the security agencies deployed in 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.
â€œIf it is true that Fayose was assaulted as reported in the media, my appeal is that such should not be allowed to happen again, since the governorâ€™s constitutional immunity guarantees that he should be given official protection to freely conduct the business of governing the state.â€
The former president further charged the security agencies not only to strive to protect the laws of the land, but to also seek to prevent any development that could negatively impact on the process of deepening the nationâ€™s democracy.
Afenifere in its reaction called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene in the state to avoid outbreak of violence.
Warning all politicians vying for elective positions ahead of Saturday governorship election to eschew violence capable of causing breakdown of law and order, the group, in a statement signed by its National Publicity, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said it was worried over alleged involvement of security agencies in perpetrating violence three days to the election.
“We call on the president to rise to the duty of his office as the leader of the country to stop the violence and bring perpetrators of this dastardly act to book. It speaks no well of him that security forces are turning the state to a battleground 24 hours after he campaigned in the state,” Afenifere stated.
The body expressed fears over the deployment of 30,000 police personnel for the election while the government was unable to mobilise a quarter of that number to secure the lives of Nigerians under savage attacks in different parts of the country.