The unending violence that has continued to rock the once peaceful state of Ogun is not only alarming but indeed very unfortunate. It is more disheartening as innocent indigenes and residents of the gateway state are at the receiving end of all the mishaps. But it never started this way; the gateway state was once noted to be peaceful and welcoming. Even though not significantly rich and wealthy as other oil producing states or the commercial capital called Lagos, the state was home to all and sundry.
The political capital of Nigeria was acknowledged far and wide as a safe haven against the ever hustling and congested city of Lagos due to its proximity with it. So what then changed? How come the serene city of Abeokuta, Ijebu-Igbo, Sagamu, Ota became battlegrounds for political gladiators to the extent of throwing caution to the wind and weapons only permitted in times of war freely being used on innocent citizens and members of the press?
Stories, denial and accusing fingers have been pointed to some individuals on the ongoing fracas but the politics of violence and bitterness in Ogun state started before the advent of the All Progressive Congress (APC). The major political brouhaha in Ogun state started when Senator Ibikunle Amosun, now the Governor of Ogun state joined the folds of politics in 2003.
IN THE BEGINNING
1. In the build-up to the 2003 elections. In Ogun State, Mr. Ibikunle Amosun ran on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Ogun Central Senatorial District. It is however on record that the convoy of the then Governor Segun Osoba was pelleted with Pure water with the shouting of “ole” during campaign rallies in Abeokuta by supporters of Mr. Ibikunle Amosun, and ostensibly at his instruction.
2. No sooner than he was elected Senator of the Federal Republic in the 2003 election, that Senator Ibikunle Amosun constituted himself into an ‘alternate’ Governor for the Ogun Central senatorial district, visiting the then incumbent Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel with various acts of provocations, violent attacks and insults.
For instance, as early as 2005, at a meeting of the PDP South West zonal meeting in the House of Chiefs, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Senator Amosun mobilised his supporters to pellet the then Governor Gbenga Daniel with pure water and various forms of abuse. This act led to his expulsion from the party.
3. The people of Ijaiye in Abeokuta could not have forgotten so easily the incident of attacks on the PDP Abeokuta South Local Government Party Secretariat on Friday the 9th of March, 2007 at about 7.30 and 8.00pm. Supporters of Senator Ibikunle Amosun in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP)- the next political party he joined, who were returning from a rally swooped on the PDP Local Government secretariat, matchetted party members, other innocent citizens and passers-by, fired sporadic gunshots into the air to disperse people, vandalised properties and burnt cars of innocent residents all within the premises and vicinity of the secretariat. The police command in the state under the Commissioner of Police- Mr Joseph Apapa thereafter invited Senator Ibikunle Amosun so as to persuade him to call his supporters to order, but he refused. Instead he decided to lead by treking with his supporters to the police station on Saturday the 10th of March, 2007, deliberately passing through the premises of the Government House at Oke-Igbein, throwing stones into the premises and doing all sorts to desecrate the seat of Government, chanting war songs and abusing the then Governor.
This unusual provocative action from a supposed distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic, caused further destructions of properties and attacks on persons perceived to be real and imaginary enemies as Amosun and his supporters, incidentally led by the same fellow being used by Amosun today as Governor, called “Jango”, moved on.
4. At about the same time in 2007, the people of Aiyepe, Omu, Ososa in Odogbolu Local Government and Ijebu-Ode (Itantebo and Italapo) respectively all have their own stories to tell about the violent disposition of Senator Ibkunle Amosun with various accounts of wanton destruction of properties and attacks on persons perceived to be real and imaginary enemies during his campaign rallies in those areas.
5. Records confirmed that Senator Ibikunle Amosun fired gunshots into the air, at Ipokia Local Government Council and Ota in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Council rallies, all which had ended in violence and attacks on people in a bit to scare away people from scrambling for empowerment items he brought for the people.
The Nigeria Police should conduct thorough investigations into the recent attacks on APC Secretariat and Ewekoro last week in which Senator Gbenga Obadara’s police aide was wounded, while calling for the TV footages shown 1 or 2 days later on NTA of the two events, to properly identify the vehicle and those that partook in the criminal acts.
The Nigerian Police in their official reports-ref SB-3380/OGS/V.T/267 of 21st March 2007, submitted to the Commission of Inquiry into Political Disturbances in Abeokuta, Ososa, Ijebu-Igbo, Omu-Ijebu etc , stated that “AMOSUN WAS THE MOST VIOLENT PERSON IN OGUN STATE”.
Ogun state has since the inception of this administration recorded the highest number of politically motivated killings but unfortunately unreported. One of the most shocking is the refusal of the governor to press further charges against the killers of Otunba Dipo Dina. The Nigeria Police Force arrested and repatriated from a neighbouring country, the self-confessed killers of Otunba Dipo Dina. Infact, the murder case against these murderers has been filed by the Nigerian Police since 14th day of January, 2011 at the Abeokuta Magisterial District. THE CASE WAS ADJOURNED INDIFINETLY TO ALLOW THE STATE DPP TO ENTER APPEARANCE FOR COMMENCEMENT OF TRIAL. INFORMATION REVEALED THAT THE GOVERNOR GAVE INSTRUCTION NOT TO PROCEED WITH THE CASE. For what reasons, Nigerians, especially the Dina Family deserve direct answers from Governor Amosun at this time. This was one of the many reasons, which borders on ‘FALSE IDENTITIES and VIOLENT TENDENCIES OF THE PERSON OF MR GOVERNOR, why the former Attorney General/ Commissioner for Justice, Mr Wemimo Ogunde resigned from Amosun’s cabinet last year.
8. Meanwhile, available records have it (and this are verifiable with various newspaper reports and circumstances) that in barely three years in the life of the Senator Ibikunle’s four–year tenure:
(i) Mr. Yomi Bamgbose, a Vehicle Inspection Officer (VIO), a member of the ACN, believed to be a strong supporter of Chief Olusegun Osoba, former governor of the state was murdered in mysterious circumstances in Abeokuta;
(ii) Otunba Ismail, the ACN chairmanship aspirant in Ogun Waterside Local Government was killed in a controversial accident while returning from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital from the screening exercise conducted by the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) for all aspirants. Incidentally, he was also believed to be a strong loyalist of former Governor Osoba in the ACN.
(iii) The Vice Chairman of the ACN in Ipokia Local Government whose corpse was found beside the bush, allegedly killed in the middle of the night on his motorcyle. He was also said to be an unrepentant loyalist of Chief Osoba.
(iv) Toyin Hamzat, former chairman of Ikeja Local Government who was shot and gunned down while visiting his home town in Aiyepe. There are high speculations that Toyin Hamsat’s frequent visits to his town and local government was part of his build-up to playing politics in Ogun State with his eyes on the governorship seat in 2015. This looks more like the circumstances surrounding Dipo Dina’s (the AC candidate in the 2007 election, and likely to be the most favoured on the ACN ticket for 2011) death in the build up to the 2011 election.
All these and many more remained part of the growing list of unresolved murders in Ogun State.
The recent attacks on the APC secretariat on the 9th of January, 2014 where members of the party, innocent members of the public including passers-by and journalists who recorded the scene were violently and forcibly attacked and their cameras confiscated and destroyed with the help of policemen on duty has opened another vista into the nature and conduct of violence and put the credibility of Governor Amosun in doubt. This is pointing in the direction of State Sponsored terrorism. It speaks to the idea of gross irresponsibility that a state governor charged with the responsibility of lives and properties of its citizen would apologise on behalf of hoodlums whom he now designated as “angry party loyalists”. What is expected of a responsible state Chief Security Officer is to bring the perpetrators of the dastardly acts to justice, starting with an invitation to those who have been mentioned by eyewitnesses and the media, to serve as a deterrent to others. Instead, the Ogun State Governor merely apologised to the party members (as if the victims were only members of the APC) with a promise not to have a repeat of such. What this signposts is that Governor Ibikunle Amosun himself has admitted complicity in the violence and ready to take responsibility for it.
Leadership is neither good nor bad, it is the Leader who is either good or bad. As if to pay a lie to the promise never to repeat itself, especially as there was no measure nor steps taken to serve as deterrent after the Leme APC secretariat attack, another mayhem was unleashed on the people of Ewekoro on Thursady, the 16th of January, 2014, exactly a week after, during an APC senator’s sensitisation programme preparatory to the party membership registration. No fewer than five Policemen were shot and wounded and several journalists were again caught up in this. Should we then begin to ask who the hoodlums are? Who are their sponsors? Who is the Chief Promoter of violence in Ogun State.
Funmilayo Adeoni wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State. Email: email@example.com