Three feared killed, police DPO injured, hospitalised as Ondo community protest escalates

The police confirmed that the DPO has been hospitalised.

Three persons were feared killed and others injured on Tuesday at Ile-Oluji, the headquarters of IleOluji/Okeigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State as protests escalated.

Protesters had on Monday chased out the traditional ruler of the town, Stephen Adedugbe, from his palace.

The victims were said to have died from gun shots allegedly fired by the police to disperse the protesters, who stormed the Divisional Police Headquarters, to demand the release of some of their members that were arrested during Monday’s protest.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the protesters attacked and injured the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the town, who is now said to be in critical condition.

Residents said when the news of the shooting of the protesters got to the town, several other people, including women, armed with green leaves, joined the protest and marched to the palace to demand that the monarch must leave the palace.

Mr. Adedugbe, who on Monday took refuge in the house of one of his high chiefs, Oyebade Adeoba, reportedly returned to the palace last night, which the protesters got wind of.

Angered by the shooting of some of the protesters, the palace was vandalised; while activities in the entire town came to a halt as schools, shops and markets were hurriedly shot.

Also banks and other financial institutions in the ancient town have been shut down while streets in the entire town had been deserted with stern looking and armed policemen seen around.

All roads that lead to the town have been barricaded and all vehicular movement in and out of the town halted as at Tuesday evening.

The whereabouts of Mr. Adedugbe, a first class traditional ruler and one time Chairman of the Ondo State Council of Obas, remained unknown as unconfirmed reports said he had fled the town.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the Ondo State Police Command, Wole Ogodo, said nobody was killed during the protest but confirmed that the DPO was injured when he was attacked.

He said the DPO was attacked as he was trying to appeal to the protesters to remain calm adding that the injured police officer had been hospitalised.

Mr. Ogodo said the command had drafted mobile policemen to the town to avoid total breakdown of law and order.

Residents started their protest on Monday over an allegation that the monarch failed to use his influence to ensure the siting of a proposed Federal Polytechnic in the town. The protesters alleged that the nonchalant attitude of the embattled monarch led to the shifting of the proposed location of the polytechnic to neighbouring Idanre Town.

The monarch was also alleged to have engaged in other activities that were detrimental to the development of the town.

However, the second in command to the monarch, Johnson Fagbamiye, said it was not true that the monarch blocked the location of a Federal Polytechnic in the town.

He said it was true that the community lobbied the Federal Government to site a polytechnic in the town but the government told the community that the siting of the institution would be done in conjunction with the state government.

Mr. Fagbamiye said the community had even allowed a private polytechnic to set up a satellite campus in the town wondering how a leader would block a project like a higher institution in the town. He said the protest was orchestrated by rumour mongers to cause trouble in the town.

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