•Drama as police stop Ajayi from leaving Government House
•Police can’t stop imminent mass defection from ruling party, says opposition
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and James Sowole
Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, yesterday resigned his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and then defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, a drama preceded his defection as he was barred from leaving his official quarters with some vehicles on Saturday night by a team of policemen, led by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bolaji Salami, allegedly at the behest of the Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
But the governor yesterday disclaimed the incident, saying he did not instruct Salami to carry out such an assignment.
Tendering his resignation letter at the APC secretariat in Apoi Ward 2, Ese Odo LGA, Ajayi said everybody knew why he left the APC.
He later went to the secretariat of the PDP in the ward where he announced his defection to the party and obtained his party membership card.
Earlier, the altercation between the deputy governor and the police had brought to the fore the frosty relationship between him and Akeredolu.
Reacting to the confrontation, the PDP yesterday told the APC and the police to stop fighting a lost battle, as nothing can stop the defection.
The action of the security men against the deputy governor at the entrance of the Government House reached a climax with the arrival of Salami, which led to the exchange of words between them.
THISDAY gathered that Salami was invited when Ajayi rejected explanation by the Chief Security Officer (CSO) that he could not go out of the Government House with some vehicles reportedly belonging to the government.
The CSO was said to have told the deputy governor to come back yesterday to move his property because it was late as government property has to be separated from those owned by him, including vehicles.
However, Ajayi who was flanked by two members of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Festus Akingbaso and Rasheed Elegbeleye, insisted that he would not leave the gate and go back to his official quarters unless they allow him to leave with his official and personal vehicles.
Ajayi said he wanted to remove his official vehicles out of the Government House because he was no longer secure on the premises.
According to him, suspected political thugs have been detailed to attack him and vandalised his property once he declared for PDP.
Ajayi, however, got angry when Salami said the deputy governor could go but not with official vehicles.
He said: “We are not saying you should not go out. Since you are defecting, even your letter was brought to me in my office this evening that you are doing it (defecting) on Monday. What government is saying is that you cannot go out with official vehicles.”
But the deputy governor said: “Are you not a police officer, a senior security officer? If I am leaving a political party, what is your concern about that? Are you an APC chairman? Are you the PDP chairman? Do you know how many hours I have spent here?
“I don’t understand that I cannot move with vehicles officially attached to me. I personally paid for this vehicle (referring to one of the vehicles) not even government; may be, you don’t know.
“That is the reason why you should not have put yourself in this mess; it is totally messy now. Why will the police be used for God’s sake? My brother, let me tell you, you people cannot repeat what happened in 1983 in Ondo State again. And it is unfortunate that they want to use the police to cause this. Ondo State people will resist you with everything with your emperor.”
However, reacting to the allegation that the governor was behind the incident, Akeredolu’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, said the position of the government on the matter was clear.
Ajibiye told THISDAY that nobody said the deputy governor could not go out.
“What the governor said was that he cannot go out of the Government House at that hour. It was around 12 midnight.
“What the government said was that inventory of everything in the Government House must be taken to separate personal property from government-owned.
“The man was told that he should come back the following day (Sunday) to move his belongings. Government property has a manager, who will account for everything,” he said.
On his part, Salami said the police would not allow the ego and sentiment of any individual to dictate its policing style.
Salami, in a statement by Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Tee -Leo Ikoro, while reacting to a video on the social media on his confrontation with Ajayi, said the command would never allow lawlessness in the state against laid-down policing rules.
The commissioner described the video as an attempt to foment trouble in the state.
He explained that he only came to the scene when his officers and men could not broker peace between the aides of the governor and that of the deputy governor over the number of cars the deputy governor would drive out at the time.
According to the CP, it is only necessary that his presence at the scene could calm frayed nerves.
He said: “Having listened to the reason for the misunderstanding, I advised both sides to come to terms, a condition they both agreed.
“Though I vowed to police Ondo State and its people with humility, I will not allow the ego and sentiment of any individual dictate what form of policing style I should use.”
Police Can’t Stop Imminent Mass Defection from APC, Says PDP
The PDP has told the APC and the police that nothing they can do to stop what it described as “the imminent mass defection from the fizzling APC to the PDP.”
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said Saturday’s face-off between Ajayi and Salami, allegedly at the behest of APC, had exposed the ruling party as a desperate one.
The PDP said: “The APC is unnerved because Nigerians are no longer ready to stomach the deception and lies of 2015 as well as the impunity, political brigandage and the electoral fraud of 2019.”
It said it was therefore a natural national course for democrats in the APC, having realised that the party is in trouble, to leave the APC with their supporters.
The PDP cautioned the police and other security agencies not allow the APC to use them as pawns to fight Nigerians.