The All Progressives Congress party leaders in Agege local government area of Lagos State gathered at the council secretariat Sunday to blame a former council boss, Jubreel Abdulkareem, for the tragedy of yesterday’s congress that led to the death of an official.
The deceased, identified as Nurudeen Olanose, was shot dead following violence that ensued after the party’s local government congress.
The party leaders, led by Mudashiru Obasa, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, accused Mr Abdulkareem of being blinded by his ambition.
“There is no crisis in Agege APC, no misunderstanding among the party leaders and party loyalists,” Mr Obasa told journalists at a press conference at the council secretariat.
“Ambition at times is a poison and I think what led to yesterday’s crisis was a single man’s ambition who is hell-bent to get what he desires either by crook or by force.
“Before yesterday’s incident, we got information that Jubreel and his squad have been mobilising thugs to invade Agege during the LG congress.”
Mr Abdulkareem, however, pushed back vehemently on the allegation, insisting it was a witch-hunt because of his decision to defy the party leaders and contest for the ticket to represent Agege Constituency 1 at the House of Assembly.
Mr Obasa is the current representative of the constituency.
On Saturday, a witness told PREMIUM TIMES that the violence that led to the fatal shooting of Mr Olanose at the local government congress began after Mr Obasa arrived and his boys began shooting.
But the speaker insisted he arrived in the area after the killing.
“I was rushing to catch up with the exercise, unfortunately for me, because I had to attend to other political issues,” said Mr Obasa.
“You know at a stage like this many people will be willing to become part of the executive at the local government and ward level but everybody cannot be executive officers of the party.
“So most times you have to do a lot of persuasions, you have to console that being a party member is worthier at times than being an executive member, that was what I was doing unfortunately for me I got to the venue after the exercise had been completed.
“Before we got there, the road has been barricaded, bonfires everywhere, bottles being thrown, but the sound of the siren on my escort dispersed the thugs, they went helter-skelter, when we got there, we had to mobilise other security personnel. So they had committed the crime before I got there.
“The police in doing their job made some arrests, unfortunately, people who were arrested belong to Jubreel Abdulakareem, most especially his driver, Mr Bosun, and one Alhaja Kuku who was former chairman of Ward A, APC, in Agege.”
The Agege congress
According to Ganiyu Egunjobi, the Chairman of Agege Local Government Area, the group led by Mr Abdulkareem attempted to frustrate Saturday’s congress by using thugs to forcefully collect the original delegates’ list.
However, when it became obvious that the congress had gone ahead with a duplicate list, Mr Egunjobi said the thugs came to the venue of the congress to disrupt the process.
“It should be noted that the congress had been concluded and the electoral officers, as well as security agents, have left the venue of the congress before the Jubreel thugs unleashed violence on innocent people both connected and not connected with the exercise,” Mr Egunjobi said.
“I was even back in my office when reports reached me that violence was being unleashed on the people.”
Mr Egunjobi said the thugs belonging to Mr Abdulkareem had attempted to forcefully gain entry into the venue of the congress but were stopped.
“It was when they were rebuffed by the security agents that they resorted to violence,” the council boss said.
“They unleashed violence on the people, delegates coming out of the venue and innocent passers-by outside the venue attacking them with dangerous weapons such as cutlasses, broken bottles, knives and even gun. It was in the process that one of them fired the shot that fatally ended the life of Olanose.”
Mr Obasa identified one ‘Bosun Adigun’ – whom he said is Mr Abdulkareem’s driver – as the person who fired the shot that killed Mr Olanose.
“I got there after he was shot,” he repeated.
“One of the thugs either due to mistake of identification or inexperience on how to handle firearms led to the death of Mr Olanose who happened to be one of the supporters of Mr Abdulkareem.
“In addition to that, I wonder what Jubreel thugs and others came to do at the venue because they did not participate in the ward congress and that was where delegates emanated from. So if you did not participate at the ward congress, there is no reason for you to be at the LG congress because you have no qualification to be part of the exercise.
“So they came with the intention to disrupt the exercise which failed woefully.”
Those present at the press conference include: Taofeek Adaranijo, member representing Agege Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives; Oluyinka Ogundimu, member representing Agege State Constituency 2 in the state House of Assembly; Samuel Adejare, state Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure; Owolabi Dada, the pioneer chairman of the local government; and Safari Adaranijo, the party leader in Agege.
They called for an investigation into the killing and for the culprits to be brought to book.
‘I’m not a thug’
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Abdulkareem said he had nothing to do with the violence at the party’s congress.
“I don’t know anything about what happened, all I know is that those that went there yesterday were the executives of the party and they were going there to do their constitutional right, what the party asked them to do,” Mr Abdulkareem, who was the Agege council boss between 2008 and 2014, said.
“I don’t know whether it has become a crime for someone to aspire, because I’m an aspirant contesting to represent our local government at the State House of Assembly Constituency 1 where the present Speaker, Obasa, belongs to. So that has been the problem, I don’t know whether it has been a problem for someone to aspire.
“Those who know me know I’m not into thuggery, I’ve never done it in my life. Let them go and interview those that were apprehended, they are exco members of the party, that by the constitution of APC are entitled to vote. And from the information gathered, they were disenfranchised from exercising their right to vote.”
Mr Abdulkareem also distanced himself from Mr Adigun, the suspect arrested by the police for the shooting, saying he ceased to be his driver after the expiration of his tenure as council boss.
“I was born and raised in Agege, go and interview people where I live, where I work, thuggery has never been my part of life. Those who have been engaging in thuggery in Agege, Agege people know them, those who have boys they are paying,” he said.
“Bosun Adigun is not my driver, he’s a LG exco member. He was a council official, he’s the one in charge of the ambulance of the local government.
“While I was the chairman, he was the one driving me. Since I left, they have withdrawn him from me. He has a letter given to him where he was withdrawn from my service, and he’s an LG executive member that has the right to cast his vote yesterday.
“I’m an aspirant contesting for a position, they (the Speaker and his group) are also at the other end contesting for the same position.
“So they want to clamp down on everybody contesting, they want to have a single person. They appealed to me that I should not contest again but I said no, nobody can take my constitutional right from me, I have the right to aspire for any level I wish.”