How opposition APM ended campaign abruptly
What could be described as a dress rehearsal of what is likely to happen during the general elections in Ogun State played out on Monday, it is a shameful display that forced the presidential rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abeokuta to be hurriedly brought to an end by the party.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday at the rally held at MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital narrowly escaped being stoned as suspected thugs pelted the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, with stones and water sachets.
The crowd also booed Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Oshiomhole and the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Before the commencement of the rally on Monday, supporters of the APC governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun were beaten and chased away from the venue.
The fracas which occurred outside the stadium in the morning, resulted in injuries to people who were struggling to get inside.
At a point, the police had to use teargas to disperse the people but it rather fueled the violence as a result of which many people had to leave before the arrival of Buhari and his team at 3:00 p.m.
Also earlier in the day, a video gone viral showed governor Amosun supervising the destruction of Dapo Abiodun, the APC Guber candidate’s campaign materials at the venue.
Governor Amosun had lost out in his moves to secure the APC governorship ticket for his preferred candidate and ally, hon. Adekunle Akinlade.
The governor after the failure accused Oshiomhole and some APC leaders of working against his interest through Abiodun’s emergence.
He also vowed to work against his party (APC) in the governorship poll and won’t hand over to Abiodun.
Shortly after the governorship ticket slipped away, Akinlade defected to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), a decision Amosun supported.
He even took him to the presidential villa where they met with Buhari.
During the rally, some of the aggrieved party supporters who had decamped to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and had successfully sent remarkable numbers of APC supporters away from the venue, hurled items at the state gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Prince Dapo Abiodun, while his hand was being raised by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun though struggled to calm the APM flag carriers but it took the intervention of the security operatives on the podium to block the items being thrown from hitting the target. To prevent the situation from degenerating, the rally was hurriedly ended.
The governor begged the angry APM members not to disgrace him before President Buhari.
Appealing to the angry crowd, he said, “I beg you in the name of God. This is what they want to happen. Please don’t disgrace me here,” he said in Yoruba.
“Our father is here, please don’t disgrace me. I beg you in the name of God, please don’t disgrace me before our father… We have laboured this hard. I am appealing to you. Please leave. I beg you in the name of God, please leave. I beg you. I am begging.”
Despite the breakdown of law and order at the rally, Oshiomhole hurriedly presented the party flag to Abiodun.
Earlier in his welcome address, Amosun had, however, provoked Oshiomhole and other party leaders when he urged his supporters to vote Buhari on February 16 while he stylishly supported Adekunle Akinlade of the APM.
Amosun said: “The other one (governorship race), we will resolve it on March 2. We are respecting President Muhammadu Buhari. Don’t transfer your anger to APC. I have told you that you we will all be one by March 3 and you will come back to APC. You know what to do when it is March 2, but honour me on February (presidential Election Day) 16 and vote for Buhari.”
As soon as Amosun ended his speech, Aregbesola, former Osun State Governor took the microphone and stressed in response to Amosun’s remark “We are not happy with a hypocrite among us. We are APC, but many people are hypocrites here. We must ensure that in March 2 and February 16, we vote APC.”
But when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the party faithful should “vote APC in all the elections”, the aggrieved supporters shouted him down, and he abruptly ended his speech.
Thereafter, violence erupted when Oshiomhole was invited to the podium for his speech. As he began to speak, suspected hoodlums started throwing stones at him and some of the stones flew in the direction of the President.
He was saved by one of the security operatives who was hit by one of the stones thrown in the direction of the APC chairman.
The development angered the leaders of the party, including national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who left the podium while the President was making his remarks.
But the enraged former Lagos State governor flung the APC’s flag which was placed beside him as he left the podium to sit in his car parked in the President’s convoy.
While he was heading towards his car, some suspected APM members followed him and were shouting ‘ole’, ‘ole’, ‘ole’,’ole ‘ole’ (thief, thief, thief ) after him.
Four days to the elections, the political atmosphere in the state is getting tensed, with rising cases of attacks and electoral violence. At the weekend, the campaign train of Abiodun came under a fresh attack. It was learnt that the campaign train was on its way to Ofada town, shortly after a rally in Owode, Obafemi-Owode Local Government, when the thugs who ambushed it, shot sporadically and hurled stones at the convoy.
Information gathered revealed the determination of the various parties to dominate in their strongholds was creating an atmosphere of desperation, the reason for the worries that the state may be a hotbed of political violence. On January 13, two rival factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) unleashed mayhem on each other in Sagamu area with many people wounded and vehicles destroyed.
The state police command said it had put machineries curb violence.
In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said a joint operation room had been set up to collate complaints or incidences.He said: “Six dedicated telephone lines have been assigned to the operation room. Members of the public are advised to reach the joint operation through any of these lines: 08171391478; 07018617037; 08110884882; 08110884864; 07064937557; and 08164678439.”
Akinlade whose party (APM’s) gubernatorial candidate, Adeunle Abdul has pledged to vote for Buhari was part of the crowd. Amosun, though still an APC member is sponsoring Akinlade against Abiodun in the Governorship race.
Many APC supporters, who were waiting for Buhari to tell all APC members that they should vote for their candidate in the March 2 election were disappointed as the president after raising Abiodun’s hands, told them to vote for whoever they prefer.
When it got to his turn, Buhari maintained a neutral stand by telling the people to “vote for him in the presidential election and vote for the candidate of their choice in the March 2 poll. A statement many critics described as ‘selfish’.
He said, “On the 2nd of March you can choose whoever you like across the parties. This is your right, so, there is no problem about it, I have no problem about it, and you shouldn’t have problems about it.
Buhari used the opportunity to highlight some of his feats, which he said, included improved economy, food security, winning the Boko Haram and recovering looted funds.
The President thereafter raised Abiodun’s hands. This angered Akinlade’s supporters and they started hurling stones at the President and other leaders of the party.
They shouted “No! No! No!” as the security agents attached to the President smuggled him into his car and zoomed off.
However, the violence spread to parts of Abeokuta, including Oke-Ilewo, Iyana-Mortuary, Oke-Mosan, and Panseke on Monday evening.
It was also gathered that in Ijebu-Ode, supporters of the APC and the APM clashed.
Earlier at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Monday morning, security agents searched people that came for the rally.
They arrested some thugs armed with dangerous weapons and charms.
Some people believed to be Akinlade’s supporters were seen chasing away Abiodun’s sympathisers from the stadium.
The victims jumped the fence to avoid being harmed by the attackers who threw some dangerous objects including stones and sticks at them.
Many of the victim’s sustained injuries while running away from their attackers.
After the programme, Abiodun’s supporters laid an ambush for members of Amosun’s faction of the APC and attacked them.
The former Commissioner for Forestry in the state, who is the APM candidate for the House of Representatives, Kola Lawal, from Yewa South / Ipokia federal constituency, was reportedly attacked by Abiodun’s supporters.