Like every other state in Nigeria, the recent protest against police brutality was also staged in Ekiti State. ALO ABIOLA writes on the attendant violence and the accusations and counter-accusations by the two major political parties in the state.
There is gainsaying the fact that the recent EndSARS protest, witnessed virtually in all states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja was a serious source of concern to all Nigeria.
There was a political dimension to it in Ekiti state, as the state chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) accused each other of unleashing terror on the people, especially party members.
The protests staged by angry Nigerian youths against the brutalities of the officers of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, ensured that the country’s social, commercial and other activities were paralysed for over two weeks.
At the initial stage, the protests which later gone global, was peaceful but became violent as the youths became unruly.
It was generally believed that the protests which have been hitherto peaceful were hijacked by hoodlums who were out to take advantage of the situation to perpetrate their evil acts.
While all of these were on, there was not any form of political colouration given to it from any quarter.
In Ekiti state, the protest was also peaceful initially, with the #EndSARS moving from one part of Ado Ekiti, the state capital to another register their displeasure at the unwholesome activities of the police, particularly the operatives of the SARS.
Reports also have it that, similar protests were staged in most council areas headquarters and major towns of the state.
The protest was heightened in state capital on October 19, when protesting youths took over and barricaded virtually all the strategic roads in the metropolis for hours.
They had converged in different locations of the town as early as 8a.m to kick start the protest.
Majorly affected areas included, the Fajuyi Park, Ojumose, Okeyinmi, Oja Oba, Omisanjana, Ijigbo , Basiri, Ajilosun.
Ikere road, Iyin road, Ifaki/Iworoko road, Nova, Adebayo, Afao road were also blocked to stop people from travelling out of the state capital or come into the state.
Public and private schools students, who had earlier resumed for academic activities were hurriedly asked to return home for their safety.
Civil servants who were on their way to their respective offices were stranded on the way while some of them were seen returning home in frustration .
The protesters later went to state secretariat and the old governor’s office and chased out government workers from their offices
They mounted barricades and forced commuters to trek several metres or kilometres before getting to their respective destinations.
The protests also took a dangerous dimension in Ado Ekiti, the state capital as the protesters were were attacked some hoodlums.
The hoodlums who were wielding dangerous weapons like cutlasses, sticks and gun stormed the protests venue in Adebayo area of the town.
Several people were said to have sustained varying degrees of injuries in the process.
Three trucks were also set ablaze by the protesters in Adebayo area of Ado Ekiti.
Some female protesters were also alleged to have been gang-raped by their fellow protesters at the Fajuyi Park area of Ado Ekiti, around 8.30pm, where protesters has been staying on daily basis due to its proximity to the government house.
The hoodlums also attacked the Area Command of the police in Ikere Ekiti and two Divisional Police Stations in the town.
Vehicles parked within the premises of the police stations were also set ablaze during the protests .
This was responsible for the 24-hour curfew declared by Governor Kayode Fayemi in the state.
According to the statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, the governor said hoodlums have capitalised on the protest to rape, assault, rob and extort innocent citizens across the State.
“ These are in addition to the wanton destruction of properties, particularly private properties. Government is concerned that if this state of affairs is allowed to continue unabated, it will lead to a breakdown of law and order thereby threatening the wellbeing of the people of Ekiti State.
“In the past 48 hours there have been incidents of gang-rape, robberies, physical assaults on innocent people, looting and burning of a police station. These acts of brigandage are not in consonance with the legitimate aspirations of the protesters. It cannot be logical to seek to remedy impunity with impunity.
“Consequently, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, hereby imposes a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State starting from 10.00 pm tonight, Tuesday, October, 20, 2020. 2. Only essential workers and service providers with valid means of identifications are allowed to move around during the period of the curfew”.
On Sunday, October 25, the PDP alleged that governor Fayemi was unleashing armed thugs on the people of the state during the period of the protest adding that the attacked people defend themselves if government cannot defend them.
The party further alleged that the armed thugs are now going about attacking people and destroying properties saying the governor Fayemi will be held responsible should there be further breakdown of law and order in the State
State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Raphael Adeyanju, in a statement said a guest house owned by a musician and former House of Assembly member, Dayo Akinleye (Dayo Maxima), was invaded on Saturday by armed thugs led by one Marshal, where four persons were abducted and gun shots fired indiscriminately.
The party said it will get to a point that the people will be forced to defend themselves if government that should protect them was the one unleashing thugs on them and the consequences will not be palatable for anyone.
The PDP said it was more worrisome that the police were allegedly acting in support of the thugs added that “up till now, the four people abducted by the thugs at and were dumped at the Police Headquarters in Ado Ekiti after they had been taken to the Government House where they were assaulted, are now being detained like criminals while nothing has been done to apprehend the thugs who attacked them.”
It alleged that the same thugs were the ones who shot dead one Prince Sunday Ogunleye, at Oke Ureje area of Ado Ekiti on Tuesday.
The party said thugs, who moved round Ado Ekiti on Tuesday, in a branded bus owned by a former APC governorship aspirant, Engr Kayode Ojo, were responsible for the death of Ogunleye, a native of Odo Ayedun Ekiti, in Ikole Local Government.
“The armed thugs that invaded GNN Guest House at Jimoh Aliu Street, Adebayo in Ado Ekiti, owned by Dayo Maxima, are known to belong to what they termed ‘Team Ekiti.’
“They are known boys of the notorious Rotimi Olanbiwonnu (Mentilo), who is an appointee of Governor Fayemi.
“The police must therefore bring these people to face the law, otherwise, those being attacked might be forced to begin to defend themselves.”
Reacting, APC in the state accused PDP of subversive activities.
The party said a faction of the opposition PDP in the state masterminded the recent looting and brigandage that attended the peaceful protest staged by the youths in the state.
A statement by the APC publicity secretary in the state, Hon. Ade Ajayi said that the state had been calm and peaceful and that only criminals and their sponsors have something to fear.
The statement read: “The PDP hid under the recent #ENDSARS protest to sponsor thugs to hijack the peaceful protest.
“One of the PDP hoodlums called Moyinoluwa Olowoyo was recently arrested after leading the assault on the governors convoy, blockade of major streets in the state capital, rape, arson, looting and other vices”
“We also recall that Ekiti was the only state in the southwest that enjoyed some level of peace when other states went up in flames”. the statement added.
“This was due to the proactive security measures taken by the security agents in conjunction with the State government to ensure peace. The PDP is not happy that their plans to unleash mayhem on the State under the guise of #ENDSARS protest failed.
“PDP leaders like Lere Olayinka and Dayo Maxima started inciting the people on social media that they should look for government warehouses for COVID 19 palliatives and loot as it happened in other states. This was responsible for the looting of the Silo along Polytechnic road, SEMA warehouse at adehun which was also burnt as well as the ADP warehouse and private stalls at old textile complex before the intervention of security agents who put a stop to these nefarious activities and arrested some of the hoodlums.
“Not done yet, Lere Olayinka and Dayo Maxima made GNN guest house at Adebayo in Ado Ekiti their base where they were strategizing on how to unleash terror on the state, as later discovered on the phone of the arrested Moyinoluwa. Their intention was to raze down the new Civic Centre and the Governors office. They actually attempted to invade the Governors office but were resisted by the combined forces of security agencies.
“Security agents were able to nip their plan in the bud by bursting the GNN Guest House where Maxima was picked up, while Lere Olayinka escaped and he is still on the run. The two culprits are Fayose’s close aides and they have been communicating with Moyinoluwa before he was apprehended”.
“We appeal to Ekiti people to remain calm and go about their lawful duties, as the government has made adequate provision to protect lives and properties in the state.
“The long arm of the law will definitely catch up with the arsonists and those already in the police net will be prosecuted”. the statement warned.
“The attention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to a statement credited to the (Fayose) factional Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ekiti State, and that of its failed gubernatorial candidate in the 2018 election, Olusola Eleka, alleging that Ekiti is not safe and that the looting of the silo containing seedlings preserved with chemicals and the State Emergency Management Agency’s warehouse, is a failure of the Fayemi’s government.
“Even the least discerning in the state would confirm that the looting was masterminded by PDP leaders in Ekiti state in their failed attempt to discredit the Fayemi government.
We wish to make it clear that Ekiti is safe for the law abiding citizens, but very unsafe for criminals and their sponsors”.
The statement continues; “We also wish to alert the general public that Ekiti state government has no COVID-19 palliatives stored anywhere in the state, as they have been distributed long ago during the pandemic.
“The real motive of the PDP in Ekiti State after failing woefully at the 2018 gubernatorial elections has been to sneak back to power through the back door”.
The affected PDP members were later discovered to have been held by the police.
They are, a former member of the state House of Assembly, Hon Dayo Akinleye and four others ,Afolabi Ariyo, James David, Ajimoko Busola and Oyin Filani
They were brought by the police appeared before an Ado-Ekiti Chief Magistrate Court on Tuesday, October 27 for allegedly involving in the burning of properties in the State during the #EndSars protest.
The defendants were granted bail in the sum of N200,000 with two sureties each who must be a Civil Servant on grade level 12.
The matter was adjourned to November 11 for further hearing.
Few days later, the PDP also called on Governor Fayemi, to explain the whereabouts of over N3 billion and food items it said was donated to the state to ease the hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on the people.
The party in a statement issued by its State Publicity Secretary, Raphael Adeyanju, said that the donations were from the federal government, World Bank, individuals and corporate organisations as well as the palliatives supplied by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
said “the people of Ekiti State deserve to know what happened to the fund since there is no evidence to show that it was spent on anything.
“Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State openly admitted that his State received N1 billion as COVID-19 fund from the Federal Government and that N1.1 billion grant was provided by the World Bank.
“Governor Bello went on to say that it was only Kogi State that refused to sign MoU accepting the World Bank document N1.1 bilion grant, meaning that other States, including Ekiti got the N1.1 billion from World Bank.
“Also, over N1 billion was donated to Ekiti State by private individuals and corporate organisations, making over N3 billion that the State got for COVID-19.
“Our question is, where is the money?”
On the palliatives supplied by private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), the party said that since the food items were distributed by CACOVID early this month, Ekiti State government cannot claim to have distributed them.
The party said: “We have read statement by a group of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, claiming that the palliatives donated to CACOVID are being kept in Jibowu Hall as well as three other locations in the Government House and the government has not refuted this.”
In a swift reaction to the allegation, Ekiti State chapter of APC said the PDP is idle and frustrated and has resorted to empty threats and incitement as its weapon, warning that the law is there to tame and deal with any form of unlawful acts by any person no matter how highly placed.
It said PDP had already taken laws into its hand by allegedly sponsoring the latest violence in the state which resulted in the arraignment of some PDP leaders. It added that nobody is too big to be dealt with by security agents.
The party in a statement signed by its state publicity secretary, Hon Ade Ajayi, in Ado Ekiti , the party reminded PDP members in the state, of the woes inflicted on people of the state by the immediate past administration, which led the state to a debtor status.
APC added, “With the arrest and arraignment of some hoodlums, who turned out to be PDP members by the police in connection with massive destruction and looting of warehouses in the state last week, faces of those behind the recent terror unleashed on the hapless Ekiti citizens are being unveiled by security agents.
“The APC is now calling on security agents in the state not to treat with kid glove, the threat by the PDP that its members will take the law into their hand by resorting to defend themselves against any further attacks.
“Isn’t it shameful that a party that produced an administration that couldn’t account for billions of Naira meant for budget support, bailouts and other funds it received is now turning around to accuse a prudent government, that carries along the people in its day to day activities, of misappropriation?
“Let them tell Ekiti people where they hid those monies.
“Their false and unsubstantiated assertions that palliatives are stored in Government house is a ploy to incite the people to attack the seat of government.
“They are not happy with the serene peace being enjoyed by the people of the state and want to create confusion. Their members have been identified to be the brains behind series of lootings and burning that engulfed the state capital last week and those arrested are being prosecuted by the security agents.
“PDP members and those who are bent on causing more confusion in the state should shelve their devilish plan or else they face dire consequences as security agents are more at alert to deal with trouble makers.”
It advised the peace loving people of the state to go about their lawful daily duties without any fear or intimidation.
“Ekiti people are wiser now and they cannot be incited by the enemies of the people against the youth-friendly government of Dr. Kayode Fayemi. Ekiti State has gone beyond their theatrics and they (PDP) should start involving themselves in endeavours that would bring progress and peace to the state, instead of trying to foment trouble everyday. They have about five factions in the state, they should try and put their party in order.
“Let me also add that all the monies donated to Ekiti during the Covid-19 were well appropriated for the task they were earmarked for. Ekiti was one of the best states that prosecuted the Covid 19 war with zeal and vigour and the records are there to corroborated this”.