James Sowole in Akure
The candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the October 10 election in Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, and his counterpart in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Eyitayo Jegede, yesterday bickered over the alleged arrest of some suspected thugs with ammunition at Ifon in Ose Local Government Area of the state, in a vehicle branded in colour of PDP and its candidate, Jegede.
Jegede and PDP have disowned the suspected political thugs, and also recalled an earlier alarm they had raised over an alleged plot by the ruling party to perpetrate crimes using materials branded in PDP colour.
Jegede was scheduled to make a stop at Ifon as part of his local government campaign tour.
The suspected political thugs were inside a Toyota Sienna bus branded with Jegede’s campaign pictures.
But the spokesman for Akeredolu Campaign Organisation, Mr. Olatunde Richard, said they were shocked and bewildered by the show of shame by the major opposition party in the state caught napping in a web of violence and thuggery.
Olatunde said it was a relief for the police to seize the sophisticated guns, live cartridges, and machetes which could have been used to cut the lives of the innocent people of the state short on the altar of politics.
According to him, “While we commend the police authority for its gallantry efforts at arresting these hoodlums, we condemn this act in strong terms and call for more investigation into PDP campaign activities.
“This is coming despite several appeals for politicians to allow peace reign before, during, and after the governorship election, making one ask if PDP and thuggery are siamese twins.
“This clearly attests to the fact that PDP, like the proverbial leopard, will never change its spots, with the party engrossed in the use of thuggery to curry electoral victory, even when the people have clearly rejected it.
“We wonder if PDP sees the election as a war or an electoral contest for the seat of the state governor.
“We insist that this does not only constitute danger to our democracy and credible electoral process, but the lives of people, that the party claims it is out to serve.”
But in a swift reaction, Mr. Gbenga Akinmoyo of Jegede Campaign Organisation, in a statement, said the general public has been made aware of plans by the ruling APC to adorn political thugs in PDP branded materials to unleash mayhem on itself and political gathering of other parties with the view of putting the blame on PDP.
Akinmoyo alleged that an APC chieftain boasted of militancy, arms, and ammunition.
According to the statement, “The information of the arrest of some hoodlums in branded vehicles wearing PDP logo at Ifon in Ose LGA, whilst our campaign train is due to make a stop in the town is nothing but an attempt by APC to make good its evil plans.
“While appreciating the security agencies for their vigilance in averting needless mayhem, we urge the general public to remain focused and not fall for the antics of the ruling APC who are determined to draw us into unproductive arguments that can distract us from those issues that bother on the welfare of our people and failure of the APC government in addressing them.”