Osun poll : Osun turns to a battle field

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Osun state’s Governorship election is just few weeks away and in what seems not right is the trail of political violence in the state.
Before now, the state of Osun was regarded as one of the most peaceful states in the federation owing to the fact that criminal activities, including armed robbery were at its low ebb because of security measures put in place by the security agencies, in conjunction with the state government. But as the August 9 governorship election draws nearer and campaign by parties become intensified across the state, the
relative peace enjoyed by the residents of the state is gradually being threatened because of some cases of terror unleashed on people who have been rampaging through the streets, ripping posters and destroying billboards of the incumbent Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and Alhaji Fatai Akinade Akinbade, governorship candidate of Labour Party (LP).

The vandals appear to be acting purely out of criminal disposition and utter disregard for the law, such that citizens are wondering what kind of security cover these hired political thugs and vandals have to operate. In carrying out their dastardly act, they endanger law and order and give the impression of the reign of lawlessness despite the presence of security agencies.

The first casualty was recorded at Ogbingbin, Oke-Ijan, and Garage-Isale area of Iremo ward, Ife-Central Local Government Council, Ile-Ife; few hours after the announcement of Mr. Ayodele Fayose of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the next governor of Ekiti State. Reports claimed that as PDP members were jubilating over the victory of PDP governorship candidate in Ekiti, Ayo Fayose, some suspected political thugs, believed to be loyal to Senator Iyiola Omisore, unleashed terror on some perceived All Progressives Congress (APC) members and supporters as well as their family members in their homes.

Four people were attacked and severely wounded during the celebration. One Ibiyode Kunle, a commercial driver, had his left ear chopped off while Suleiman Ayeye, a tailor, was matcheted in the head and had a deep cut on his head. Others were thoroughly beaten and had to run for safety.

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Kunle Ibiyode and Suleiman Ayeye were immediately rushed to Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTHC) Ile-Ife for medical attention. Ibiyode Kunle, while narrating his experience, said he was
sitting at the frontage of his house around 8.00pm, together with his wife, when suddenly some unknown people came from nowhere, armed with dangerous weapons, and unleashed terror on him.

His wife, Abigail, disclosed that she managed to escape through the back door with her eight month-old baby while her husband was not all that lucky and was seriously beaten by thugs numbering about 10.

There was also report of an act of vandalism in Ilesa by people suspected to be hired political thugs who were on rampage, ripping posters and destroying billboards of the incumbent Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, and that of the Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade.

Also in Ibokun, the headquarters of Obokun Local Government Area of the state, the timely intervention of security operatives saved what could have resulted in a political violence when suspected hired political thugs embarked on destruction of political bill boards, poster of
Governor Rauf Aregbesola a day to the door-to-door campaign rally of PDP candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore in Ibokun.

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The hired thugs were seen defacing the posters and billboards of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and replacing it with that of Senator Omisore but were however challenged by some youths in the town who demanded to know the reason for their action.

In the process, there were hot exchanges of words but the timely intervention of the monarch, Alademure of Ibokun, Oba Festus Awogboro, and security operatives saved the situation from degenerating into full-blown political crisis in the state.
There was also explosion in Ile-Ife few days after over which both the APC and PDP trade words accusing one another responsible for it. Though no life was lost in the incident, it was gathered that there was confusion and panic all over the city. The police claimed it was not bomb but dynamite used to blast deep well.

There is no doubt that the ruling party, the APC, harbours some vigilant boys tagged “State Boys”, Senator Iyiola Omisore, apart from having his so called good boys as well, now goes about the campaign rallies with some “masked men”, fully armed to the teeth. It was not certain at the time of filling this report whether the ‘masked men’ are conventional security operatives such as police or SSS.

It was gathered that since Senator Iyiola Omisore, sometime ago, alleged threat to his life, claiming that his residence in Lagos State was attacked by unknown men that some detachment of security operatives whose identity could not be ascertained had been granted unto him by the Presidency. His director of media and strategy, Prince Diran Odeyemi, however denied using the masked men to terrorize the people of the state, saying those who are accusing Omisore of using the mask men to unleash terror on residents of the state are not serious.

While justifying the use of masked men, Odeyemi explained that all security operatives are with Omisore campaign train; be it police, SSS and others, adding that anybody can go to verify that.

According to him, “we are not using masked men to harass or terrorize people of the state as alleged. It is only one person that is under the mask and there is reason for it,” adding that “the allegation is untrue and useless. We have no time to reply such insinuations because we are very busy than them now at campaign.”

But the APC criticized the use of masked men for campaigns in the state, saying it is an act of introducing terrorism into politics in the state. The APC’s Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy,
Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, said: “Political terrorism is being introduced into the State of Osun by desperate PDP politicians who want to snatch power by all means; and it would appear they have the blessing of the presidency.

“With Boko Haram terrorists devastating the North East of Nigeria and stretching the security forces to their limit, it is inconceivable that the ruling party will be setting off political terrorism in the West in addition to Boko Haram in the North.”

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The APC alleged that the PDP attack on its supporters at Oke Bale on their way to a mega rally as well as PDP’s thugs ripping of posters and destroying billboards of Ogbeni Aregbesola in Ibokun and Ilesha are some of the violent means being introduced into politics in the state.
While accusing PDP for increase in violence in the state, the party noted that the violent activities may not be unconnected with the desperation of the presidency to have a foothold in the West.

The APC condemned, in the strongest terms, the recourse to violence by PDP in Osun which have been boasting publicly to use every means, including ‘Federal might’ that can only be authorized by the presidency to attempt to remove the APC from power in Osun.

“We like to believe that these vandals are acting purely out of criminal disposition; which is why we are bringing this incident to the notice of all security apparatus in the State, so that something should be done quickly before a wrong message permeates the society, that PDP vandals are protected. Pulling down billboards and ripping off posters of political opponents are not part of democracy or law and order.

“This is a potential tragedy that law enforcement agencies should not tolerate. The PDP and its thugs must be called to order; but if they persist in their crime, then they must be brought to justice. The APC therefore appeal to the security agencies to act fast before law and order breaks down in Osun.”

The State Police Commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim Maishanu, has assured that the command would not hesitate to deal with anybody according to the laws whose action is found wanting in his regards.

But the PDP responded saying that Aregbesola’s campaign train is always full of tension and loaded with words of hate to incite people to resort to self help.
Prince Diran Odeyemi said: “We now understand why Ogbeni Aregbesola’s electioneering campaign across the state is full of tension and loaded with words of hate to incite people to resort to self help. Initially, he told his APC supporters to go to polling booth with charms and amulets to attack people.

He has now moved to his war song of “How many people soldiers go kill” and this has become his anthem/slogan at every APC gathering in the state.
“We are worried that this bloodletting message by Aregbesola who is supposed to preach the message of love and showcase his achievement, if there is any, has resorted to bolekaja campaign. We are not unaware of the call by his former boss and national leader of APC, Mr. Bola Tinubu that people should take laws into their hands and his “Rig and Roast”
campaign has been condemned by all and sundry as a recipe for chaos and anarchy.”

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Critics have pointed out that the South-West is known for reacting to perceived rigging and electoral fraud; therefore, there is need to sensitize all stakeholders, especially the presidency, with its federal might. The June 12, 1993, presidential election is a quick example to remind lovers of democracy in the country which was believed to have been won by late business mogul, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, but annulled by the then Military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. The annulment of the results of the said election generated spontaneous and violent reaction not only from the people of
the southwest region but all over the country during which several people were died and property worth several millions of Naira vandalized and destroyed during the violent protest.

Some politicians, including the perceived winner of the election through the then Social Democratic Party (SDP) were hauled into detention and it was in that detention that
winner of election lost his life as he was said to have been
poisoned.

Another critical scenario to draw up to the mind of Nigerians was the aftermath of the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Osun State when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the winner of the election. The perceived loser of the said election is currently in office serving his first four year term as fourth Executive Governor of the state.

The announcement by INEC declaring Oyinlola as the winner of the election generated crisis and protest for several days during which several property were burnt and vandalized.

Some people were killed, especially in Ilesa when Oyinlola, because of his background in the military, requested the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 2 Mechanized Division of Nigerian Army in Ibadan for the drafting of soldiers to quell the protest. The soldiers arrested and maltreated defenceless Nigerians for exercising their rights. For three and half years, the matter was before the election tribunal before the Federal Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, finally ruled that Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of then Action Congress
(AC) was the authentic winner of the said election.

As Osun prepares for another Governorship election on August 9, 2014, would the political gladiators allow a repeat of what led to the end of the First Republic and above mentioned cases? Political observers in the state and beyond are currently ruminating over it; even as some of the gladiators in the forthcoming governorship election are threatening to unseat the occupier of the Oke-Fia Government House in the state through the use of federal might.

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