The crisis rocking the Ondo State House of Assembly took a dangerous twist on Thursday in Akure as some protesters attacked the convoy of Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the hoodlums smashed the side screens of two vehicles in the governor’s convoy.
It took the timely intervention of the men of the state police command to disperse the protesters, some of whom were also injured in the pandemonium that ensued.
The protest, which started on Wednesday, was against the governor’s move to present the 2017 budget to the Assembly.
Following the protest, Mr. Mimiko reportedly shifted the budget presentation to another day.
The protesters alleged that the governor wanted to sponsor 38 bills and ensure that the bills were passed into law before his tenure expired on February 23, 2017.
The protesters vowed to prevent the governor from presenting the appropriation bill to the Assembly.
According to a witness, immediately the protesters sighted the governor’s convoy on the road leading to the House of Assembly, some of them started throwing stones at the convoy.
However, the leader of the protesters, Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, condemned the action of the police in dispersing them, saying that the protest was not a violent one.
“We don’t know why there is this issue of sporadic shooting by the police in a peaceful protest.
“It is uncalled for, and we are calling on the Inspector General of Police, well-meaning Nigerians and citizens of Ondo State to look into the matter.
“What we are protesting for is to tell our people that the governor is bringing a bill that will bring untold hardship to the people of the state. We are not violent with it,” he said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Femi Joseph, who confirmed the attack on the governor’s convoy, explained that the police had to disperse the protesters when they appeared to be going violent.
He said that the Commissioner of Police in the state was not biased, saying the commissioner’s interest was to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order in the state.
“Some of them attacked the convoy of the governor; about two vehicles in the convoy were damaged by the protesters.
“We initially allowed them to protest peacefully, we also appealed to them to be peaceful but when they started barricading the road throwing stones at the governor’s convoy, we have to disperse them,” he said.
The police also attempted to seal off the Assembly complex over the crisis
The police in Akure had stormed the Assembly complex in an attempt to prevent break down of law and order while a faction of the lawmakers were holding a plenary session.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the security agent, led by the state’s Commissioner of Police, Ibifuro Harrisson, also disrupted a meeting of the staff of the Assembly and ordered them out.
However, the situation became chaotic when the lawmakers, who were still in the chamber, refused to vacate the premises.
The police also had a hectic time controlling a number of hoodlums, who had converged on the assembly complex.
Subsequently, the police resorted to the use of tear gas to disperse the unruly crowd and thereby denied journalists and others access to the assembly premises.
The factional lawmakers had earlier dissolved all standing committees of the House during a plenary session presided over by its Acting Speaker, Malachi Coker.
The factional acting Majority Leader, Olamide George, also moved to nominate Iroju Ogundeji, member representing Odigbo 1 constituency as their spokesman, while Kazeem Suleiman, representing Akoko South West constituency 1, seconded the motion.
The lawmakers unanimously accepted the nomination of Mr. Ogundeji as the spokesman for the house.
The House also announced that all staff of the Assembly should resume their duties, and subsequently called for a meeting with them.
All efforts to speak on telephone with the State’s Police Public Relations Officer, Femi Joseph, proved abortive as calls put on his line were not going through.
NAN could not speak with any of the factional lawmakers, who refused to leave the hallow chamber as at the time of filling this report.
The crisis followed the suspension of the embattled Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly, Jumoke Akindele, by a faction of lawmakers for alleged fraud.
Ms. Akindele enjoys the support of 12 other lawmakers who are loyalists of Mr. Mimiko.
Thirteen lawmakers, who sat in the Assembly on Thursday, are opposed to Ms. Akindele and Mr. Mimiko and are believed to enjoy the support the incoming administration of Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress.