Commercial and vehicular activities were paralysed in some parts of Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital on Thursday as some hoodlums suspected to be members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria and National Union of Road Transport Workers, took to the street apparently to foil a campaign rally organised by a member of the House of Representatives, Opeyemi Bamidele.
Bamidele, who represents Ekiti Central Federal Constituency 1 at the National Assembly, was to formally declare his governorship ambition in the state on Thursday.
The hoodlums, who took to the streets as early as 7am, barricaded the Ajebandele Road, Ajilosun area up to Okeyinmi junction in Ado-Ekiti.
The group, led by RTEAN state Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Olabiwonu, brandished dangerous weapons such as guns, cutlasses and clubs.
They drove dangerously around the town in a convoy in a manner that traumatized the people and intimidated other road users.
A detachment of the Police from the Ekiti State Police Command later dispersed Bamidele’s supporters from the venue of the rally. The heavily armed and stern looking policemen used tear gas on Bamidele supporters and also arrested some of them.
Majority of those who were arrested wore vests with inscriptions such as ‘Ekiti Bibire Coalition’ and ‘MOB’ which are the political acronyms of Bamidele’s campaign slogan.
The anti-riot policemen reportedly fired live bullets into the air, thereby causing confusion with many people scampering to safety and leaving many people injured.
Some of those who sustained injuries were reportedly rushed to a private hospital at Basiri area of Ado Ekiti.
Investigation showed that Bamidele arrived at Ado-Ekiti enroute Akure at about 12:37pm in a long convoy and was received by a large crowd of supporters at Mobil area, Ajilosun.
The procession was initially peaceful with Bamidele moving in a long convoy and responding to cheers from his supporters.
Heavily armed policemen in patrol vans later dispersed the crowd.
Bamidele’s governorship declaration was scheduled to take off at Ajilosun and terminate at his Bibire campaign headquarters.
Operatives of the State Security Service, the anti-riot policemen and soldiers were drafted to some flashpoints within the state capital.
In his reaction, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Victor Babayemi, said the drivers had earlier struck in the morning. He said, “The police must be proactive to prevent breakdown of law and order.”
On the rally, he said, “Bamidele sought a permit from the police to hold a meeting with his supporters and party members and we wrote a letter to him that in-as-much as we were giving him support and the security he needed to hold the meeting, we referred him to Section 99 of the Electoral Act 2011 as amended.
“That particular section of the law says that no political party should start campaign 90 days before an election.
“Therefore, we told him to do whatever he wanted to do within the confines of his secretariat. But to our surprise it was not actually a meeting but a campaign and the crowd spilled over to the road. They carried placards and campaign posters in the form of a procession.
“He started campaigning for the governorship office that had not been declared vacant by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“We are duty-bound as law enforcement agents to disperse that crowd. That assembly was a clear violation of the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State has described the incident as unfortunate and disappointing.
The state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Pastor Kola Oluwawole, said, “The violence that erupted today is unwarranted, condemnable and unfortunate. This is a sign of what we would likely experience in 2014. The PDP has been crying and calling the attention of the public to the fact that the politics in Ekiti has become violent under the present government.”
Source: Punch Nigeria