Governor show of shame The News

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THE NEWS


Nation
 : A Governor’s Show Of Shame

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on 2005/6/6  

 

By Oluokun Ayorinde

Governor Ayodele Fayose ignites violence in Ifaki Ekiti.

The
name Tunde Omojola may, before now, not ring a bell in Ekiti politics. But
the 31 year- old who died in the violence that accompanied a ward
bye-election in Ifaki, Ido-Osi Local Government area of the State on
Saturday, 28 May, is set to become the poster boy of the state violence
that has been the lot of opponents of the state government. For Governor
Ayodele Fayose who smells conspiracy in any gathering or just ordinary get
together, sharing the same political affiliation does not matter as
reflected in the humiliation he is meting out to his Deputy, Abiodun
Aluko.

In spite of this tendency, not many expected Governor Ayodele Fayose to
show so much interest in a councillorship bye-election like he did at
Ifaki Ekiti on 28 May. The councillorship seat which had been occupied by
Mr. Labaika Olobanji Suleiman, of the National Conscience Party, NCP, for
the past two years, became vacant when the Court of Appeal nullified
Labaika?s election following complaints from his opponents at the polls.
The court subsequently ordered a bye-election. The election was fixed for
that Saturday. But reliable sources in Ifaki town told TheNews that
the grounds for the violence that accompanied the election was prepared by
Governor Fayose when he visited the town on Tuesday, 24 May. The Governor
who arrived the town with his retinue of aides, hanger-ons and other idle
characters went round the town dishing out threats that he was set to rein
in the famous streak of stubbornness of Ifaki indigenes. The Governor also
went to the palace of the traditional ruler of the town from where he left
for Ado-Ekiti.
 

“By this time, the atmosphere in the town has
become charged and the youths were ready for him (the governor),” the
source revealed.


On the election day, Ifaki was invaded by a detachment of mobile policemen
who were however civil in carrying out their assignments.

Also, all the PDP stalwarts in the state, including the PDP local
government chairmen, invaded Ifaki with a view to securing victory for the
ruling party by all means. TheNews learnt that the efforts of the
local government chairmen who were led by Tadeus Aina, the chairman of
Ido-Osi local government and Adegoroye Olaisade, the former chairman of
the same local government were however frustrated by the youths of the
town. The election proceeded peacefully until about mid-day when PDP
stalwarts from different parts of the state who had gathered in front of a
Catholic Primary School, along Ifaki – Ido Road, sensing that the election
may not go the way of their party, decided to call the Governor. The call
was allegedly made by Chief Dayo Okondo, one of the PDP stalwarts present.

He allegedly asked the Governor to come to their rescue as the election
was not going their way. Fayose allegedly arrived the town 30 minutes
later dressed in a T-shirt on top of a blue jeans. He was accompanied by a
retinue of aides, strange looking men, thugs and police officers dressed
in T-shirts on top of black trousers. On arrival, the Governor expressed
his displeasure to the mobile police officers who had been monitoring the
elections for not cooperating with his “people” (members of the PDP) in
ensuring that his party won the councillorship seat.

He then ordered the half dressed policemen and other aides that came
within him to disperse into the various electoral booths in the ward where
they thumb printed ballot papers in favour of PDP. But they did not stop
at that as they also unleashed mayhem on the town. Dr. Ken Mordi a
politician whose wife is a native of Ifaki Ekiti was one of those
molested. Mordi was in town for a social function. He told TheNews
that he was beaten up while his clothes were torn.

His sin was that he tried to tell the governor to behave honourably. But
on introducing himself to the governor, as a friend of Vice President
Atiku Abubakar and Governor Bola Tinubu, the governor ordered that the
mobile police officers should stop beating him. Dr. Mordi said he had
already forwarded his torn dress to the Vice President. An eyewitness to
the crisis, a banker who also sustained a fracture in his leg told
TheNews
that the governor personally took part in beating people up at
Ifaki on that day. The butt of the governor?s action are particularly
members of the National Conscience Party, NCP. Some, including the State
Secretary of NCP, were arrested and dragged into a waiting mobile police
truck.

“That was how Tunde Omojola was brought naked into the truck. He was
dragged down from his car and I gathered that it was one PDP member that
pointed him out as a close ally of Labaika Suleiman a.k.a. Labays, the NCP
candidate in the ward election,” the eyewitness told TheNews . He
said that Tunde Omojola was beaten up by the mobile policemen and loyalist
of the governor, including the governor’s junior brother, Isaac Fayose and
the personal Assistant to the Governor, Goke Olatunji who hit him with a
stone on the chest. “There is no wound on any part of his body. He must
have suffered serious internal bleeding,” he told TheNews .

By the time Tunde was dragged to where the mobile police truck was,
TheNews
learnt that he was nearly lifeless and had to be helped into
the truck. Sensing that the Germany returnee is about to give up the
ghost, one of the arrested persons in the truck begged the governor to
allow him take Tunde to the hospital for immediate treatment. But Fayose
refused. Instead, he ordered that those inside the truck should be taken
to Ifaki Police station for detention. The Governor then moved into the
town where he actively participated in the exchange of stones between some
youths in the town. This was accompanied by sporadic shootings into the
air by the policemen that accompanied him.

At the police station, it was learnt that Tunde was practically carried
out of the truck by policemen and remained on the floor for about 32
minutes before the Police allowed one of the arrested persons to take him
to Ido Medical Centre where he was later confirmed dead. Even after his
death, getting the police to issue a death certificate proved another
thorny issue.

TheNEWS learnt that Tunde’s predicament is as a result of his relationship
with Labaika, the NCP candidate. Tunde is Labaika’s in-law (the NCP
candidate is married to his sister). But Tunde is also not a stranger to
Fayose. A source told TheNEWS that the deceased parent is a close
acquaintance of the Governor’s father in Ibadan.
 

Mrs. Omojola was said to be particularly pained at the
participation of Isaac Fayose in the beating that eventually led to
Tunde’s death. “Will he claim that he does not know Tunde?,” the woman was
said to have queried. Tunde is the only son of his mother who TheNews
learnt is now staying with her sister at Alakia in Ibadan as a result of
the misfortune. But the violence that characterised the election in Ekiti
was not altogether unexpected. Femi Falana, the erstwhile gubernatorial
candidate of NCP in Ekiti State and human rights activist, on Wednesday
previous to the election, called the attention of the Acting
Inspector-General of Police, Sunday Ehindero to the threat by the governor
to use armed mobile policemen to disrupt the councillorship election.

The human rights lawyer indeed held a meeting with the Acting IG to seek a
way out of the imminent mayhem a day before the election. Falana
complained that despite assurances by the Police, there was violence on
that day. The lawyer said he had since learnt that the appearance of
Governor Fayose in Ifaki on the Election Day was against the advice of the
Directorate of State Security Service and the Ekiti State Police Command.
But the Governor “characteristically disregard the security report and
invaded the town with a detachment of armed mobile policemen and thugs,”
noted Falana.

The violence shifted to Ado Ekiti later on that day. No fewer than 20
vehicles were destroyed while 37 suspects were arrested by the police. It
was gathered that the Governor and his entourage of the governor who were
undertaking what he called ?Democracy Day Walk,? ran into a meeting
organised by the Alliance for Democracy for the swearing in of their new
executive. It was alleged that some anti-riot policemen in the bid to
disperse the meeting tear-gased the AD leaders and their supporters. It
then became a free for all fight between supporters of AD and PDP in which
the state governor was said to have actively participated.

Sources alleged that the governor personally grabbed a pistol from a
police officer and shot into the air to disperse the crowd while mobile
policemen unleashed violence on AD leaders. Former military administrator
for Bayelsa State, Navy Commander Caleb was angered by the governor’s
action and they engaged each other in verbal confrontation. A Channels
television reporter who recorded the scene was arrested later. The
reporter recorded the violent scenes and went back home to keep the
videotape. But the reporter was arrested later in the house of a prominent
AD leader in Ekiti town along with other AD supporters around the area.
The broadcast journalist was taken to the Governor’s office where he was
not only queried about his mission in the AD?s leader house but aides to
the governor took turns to abuse him.
 

Source revealed that the newly appointed commissioner
for works who was with the governor slapped the reporter while the
governor’s Chief Security Officer broke a bottle of Ragolis on his head.
TheNews learnt that the reporter’s office in Lagos was contacted on
the phone. The governor, it was gathered, personally asked the television
station’s manager to withdraw the reporter from the state within 24 hours.
This is after the reporter had been sufficiently brutalised by aides to
the governor.

TheNews learnt that the television station had been asked by the
governor to withdraw its entire crew from Ekiti State, as it can no longer
guarantee their security. The State’s Deputy Governor, Mr. Abiodun Aluko
who has also been at the receiving end of Fayose?s intolerance of
opposition is now struggling tooth and nail to retain his position. The
governor began a process of cutting his deputy to size when he created a
new Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, a major
portfolio under the Deputy Governor. He later appointed Mr. Bayo Asana as
Commissioner in charge of the Ministry. The official reason adduced for
the change by the governor was the continued friction between the Chairman
of the Local Government Service Commission, Chief Dayo Okondo and Mr.
Aluko.

Sources however informed TheNews that the governor’s action was
motivated by his suspicion that his deputy was holding meetings with
people he perceived as opposed to his faction of the PDP. This became
clear during the swearing in of the new Commissioner when the Governor
took time to lambast the deputy governor. “Anybody in this government
holding meeting with my enemy is also my enemy and will be treated as
such,” the Governor remarked during the occasion. The innuendo was not
lost on the Deputy Governor and those present. To save his job, the Deputy
Governor wrote the president. But the Presidency’s intervention, if it
will come at all, may be too late. The State House of Assembly which is
perpetually at the behest of the governor has concluded the process for
the impeachment of the governor.

Deputy governors in the South Western states are trying to save the job of
the Aluko. To save his job, the Deputy Governor himself wrote the governor
last Wednesday appealing to the governor to let him keep his job while
pledging his loyalty to the government.
 

However, the Governor’s behaviour is said to be
unsettling Aso Rock. TheNews , learnt that he was summoned by the
Presidency last week on the violence which rocked the state on Saturday,
28 May. The leadership of the PDP are also said not to be comfortable with
the way the Governor has been carrying out his assignment in the state.
One of the options being considered to rein in the governor is expulsion
from the PDP. Prominent leaders of the state are also urging the Federal
Government to take action to prevent the State from totally descending
into anarchy.

The role played by the police in the crisis has also continued to be an
object of curiosity. When 46 persons arrested by the police over the
violence were arraigned in court last Tuesday, there was not a single
member of PDP among the mostly AD and NCP supporters. This fact was noted
by Femi Falana who accused the State Governor of using his police guards
to arrest NCP supporters. The AD secretary in the state, Chief Abiodun
Akin Fasae also noted that all the 37 persons arrested over the incident
were AD supporters.

Azeez Bashiru, the Ekiti State Police Commissioner however told TheNews
in a telephone interview that some supporters of PDP were also arrested
during the fracas. Why the arrested PDP members were not brought to court
will however remain a mystery which only the commissioner can solve.

Additional Reports by Adeola Daramola.

Interview
Fayose
Masterminded The Violence

 

Mr. Femi Falana, a National Conscience Party
governorship candidate in Ekiti State spoke on the Ekiti mayhem and the
complicity of Fayose

Q:Governor
Fayose has denied any involvement in the violent clashes that rocked Ekiti
State last week. Both the AD and NCP have accused the governor of being
the brain behind the crisis. What is the actual position?

 

A: The denial of complicity in the heinous crime of
murder at Ifaki is dubious to say the least. Eyewitnesses have since made
statements to the police. Frankly speaking Mr. Fayose masterminded,
coordinated and led the violent clashes at Ifaki and Ado Ekiti. For the
umpteenth time, let me say that there was no clash between NCP and PDP
supporters at Ifaki. The councillorship had been won by the NCP candidate.
The PDP challenged his victory at the Election Petition Tribunal. The NCP
candidate won the case. But at the Appeal Tribunal, the election was
nullified.
 

Governor Fayose claimed that he settled the Tribunal
members to upturn the NCP victory. A fresh election was ordered. On
Tuesday, May 24, 2005 Governor Fayose was at Ido Oso Local Government
where he stated that he would rig the election. He warned Chief Akinlaya
and Engineer Segun Oni, both of them are PDP Chieftains not to show up on
the election day if they valued their lives. The fellow even had the
temerity to threaten me. Although I had an engagement on Saturday May 28 –
the election day I wrote a petition to the Acting Inspector-General of
Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero wherein I urged him to restrain the police
from being converted to armed thugs on the election day.

Meanwhile, the threats issued by the Governor to manipulate the election
in favour of the PDP accentuated tension in Ifaki. Both the police and
State Security authorities pleaded with the governor not to be in the
vicinity of Ifaki on the election day. So he sent the PDP State Chair, Mr.
Ropo Adesanya and Chief Dayo Okondo to stand proxy for him. But by 11.00am
it had become apparent that the NCP candidate was comfortably leading in
the 10 polling units. In desperation the duo sent a distress call to
Governor Fayose to rush down to rig the election.

By 11:28am Governor Fayose invaded Ifaki with a detachment of mobile
policemen and a band of armed thugs. The Area Commander tried in vain to
persuade the Governor not to disrupt the peaceful election. He took the
law into his hands by ordering the mobile policemen to take the ballot
boxes into a waiting van. The 10 NCP agents led by the State Secretary,
Mr. Femi Olajobi who challenged the electoral malpractices were arrested
on the illegal orders of the Governor.

Mr. Tunde Omojola, who was based in Germany wondered what was amiss.
Without any provocation whatsoever Governor Fayose ordered his armed gang
to deal with him. Within the twinkle of an eye they pounced on him. Mr.
Omojola was beaten to pulp. All efforts to rush him to the hospital while
gasping for breath were thwarted by Governor Fayose. By the time he was
eventually rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Ido the doctor on duty
examined him and confirmed the man dead.

As soon as information reached Mr. Fayose that the man had died he rushed
to Ado to lead a so-called Democracy Walk. He was apparently working on
establishing an alibi. The march had hardly commenced when he cited a
meeting of the Alliance for Democracy. The Governor requested the
Commissioner of Police to dispatch his men to disperse the AD meeting. The
Commissioner pointed out that there was no basis for dispersing the AD
gathering. Mr. Fayose said he was going to personally attack the AD
members. I am sure the Commissioner thought it was an expensive joke. But
Mr. Fayose was said to have led gunmen to attack the meeting. Witnesses
informed me that for 35 minutes they were treated to a staccato of gun
shots.
 

Those who were at the meeting ran helter skelter. When
the meeting had broken up Governor Fayose ordered his men to destroy the
cars that were abandoned by those who had run for dear lives. Can you
believe that Fayose treated himself and friends to an Owambe Party at the
State House later that night? He was said to have danced with his hands
dripping in the cold blood of Tunde Omojola.

Q: Have the Police arrested those who beat Tunde Omojola to death?
 

A: No. I was reliably informed that the security
reports sent to the Presidency by the police and the SSS indicted the
Governor and his close aides in the murder. The Governor was summoned to
Abuja last Tuesday. Characteristically, he prostrated for the President
and was asked to go back to Ado Ekiti and sin no more. In other words the
crime of murder has been settled as a family affair of the PDP. Funny
enough the NCP members who challenged the rigging of the election have
been charged to court for breach of the peace. Ditto for the 39 members of
the AD who were attacked by Governor Fayose and his gunmen.

Q: Are you saying nobody has been charged with the murder of Tunde
Omojola.?

 

A: I am saying that the suspects have been pardoned by
the Presidency because they are members of the PDP. What do you expect
from a regime that has covered up the brutal killing of its Justice
Minister? Were the suspects in the mock trial not treated like heroes?
Didn’t the regime congratulate itself for sacking two Justices of the
Court of Appeal for allegedly collecting N27 million from Dr. Ugochukwu
Uba in order to award him a dubious victory of his election petition? Are
you not aware that the giver of the fat bribe is sitting comfortably in
the Senate while the two Justices he corrupted have been dismissed from
office? Does the regime believe in justice? But take it from me the
barbaric murder of Tunde Omojola will not go unpunished. Otherwise the
culture of impunity will be institutionalized in Ekiti State.

Q: Were there similar cases in the past that were not prosecuted?
 

A: Very many cases. The Presidency has all the records.
During the 2003 election, candidate Fayose led mobile policemen to attack
two traditional rulers. Both of them ran into the bush. Another
traditional ruler was recently arrested and detained in the midst of armed
robbery suspects. The Deputy Governor has alleged that the governor is
threatening his life. Mr. Sikiru Babalola was chased to a church, by Mr.
Fayose’s thugs. He ran to the altar. He was dragged out of the church,
stripped and beaten to pulp. Six policemen that were directed to arrest
the suspects were themselves beaten up. Mr. Michael Ajasin, the NCP
Chairmanship candidate in the 2004 local government election was attacked
by gunmen. The Police investigation into the matter was stopped by the
Presidency. The attack to kill Taye Fasuba, the Chair of Ado Local
Government almost succeeded but for the intervention of the police from
Ondo State. Even though Mr. Fasuba escaped a Nigerian was killed at the
scene. The investigation of the case was stopped on orders from above.

Q: Governor Fayose has accused you of using your connection in the
media to run down his government.

 

A: That is a cheap and irresponsible blackmail. In fact
it is an insult on the media. On the contrary I have repeatedly accused
the media of conspiracy of silence on the incipient fascism in Ekiti
State. All the cases of political violence witnessed in Ekiti State in the
last two years are traceable to Governor Fayose. I am based in Lagos but
he forces me to join issues with him whenever he unleashes violence on
citizens he has sworn to protect and defend. But there are times that I
have had to ignore him or quietly report him to the authorities. The other
day some two chaps were arrested for defacing his posters. He ordered that
the suspects be tortured to implicate me. They were accordingly tortured
by his Chief Security Officer and Personal Assistant, Goke Olatunji. While
one of the chaps was soaked in his own blood he mentioned my name. The
drama was video recorded. The following morning the Governor summoned some
selected traditional rulers and political leaders to watch the film. At
the end of the comic show I learnt that he was advised not to link me with
the incident in his own interest. When President Obasanjo visited Ekiti
State he advised Governor Fayose to stop wasting public funds on reckless
propaganda. That was what the chaps were protesting. In spite of pressure
from friends and relatives to react over the film I left the Governor to
his conscience. Notwithstanding the puerile blackmail I directed my law
office in Ado Ekiti to take up the defence of the two boys. They are out
on bail now.

Q: Do you have evidence of his involvement in the crisis of last week?


A: At my level I would be risking my own reputation if I make
unsubstantiated allegations. Apart from the petition which I sent to Abuja
I had a meeting with the Inspector General of Police. If the police had
moved in promptly the crisis might have been averted. Since the police
refused to grant bail to our clients, I ensured that they were charged to
court. As soon as they were admitted to bail I had meetings with the AIG
for Zone 8, Mr. Dayo Adeoye, the State Police Commissioner, the SSS
Director, the Mortuary at Ido for the identification of the corpse of
Tunde Omojola. I spoke to the leaders of the NCP and PDP. Of course I
interviewed eye witnesses of the cold murder. They have made very
revealing statements to the police.

Q: Did you speak to Governor Fayose in the course of compiling your
report.


A: There was no basis whatsoever. He rushed to Channels Television where
he alleged that he was not in Ekiti during the violent clashes. Unknown to
him his presence in the locus in quo was filmed. He also denied that
anyone died in the Ifaki attack. What would I have discussed with his
Excellency in the face of such blatant lies?

Q: What do you advise the Ekiti people to do to prevent total break
down of law and order?


A: The Ekiti people are very peaceful, civilized and cultured. But they
can also react violently if they are provoked. I have confirmed that any
further violent attack emanating from the governor would be met with
violent resistance. The Ekiti people have the constitutional right to
defend their own lives since the ruling PDP has decided to cover up
heinous crimes committed by its members. But on a serious note all
concerned Ekiti people ought to take urgent steps to arrest the
progressive descent of the State to anarchy and chaos under Governor
Fayose. I am trying not to believe that President Obasanjo has refused to
intervene in the crisis on the side of justice in order to humiliate the
Ekiti people. I am convinced that he can never allow any governor to turn
Ogun State into a lawless fiefdom. But we have asked the Ekiti people to
take their destiny in their own hands.
 

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