The Peoples Democracy Party, PDP, leader who was assaulted by members of his party for refusing to distribute money allegedly received from President Goodluck Jonathan has narrated his ordeal.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Pegba Otemolu was physically attacked last week by Ogun State community coordinators of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign.
Mr. Otemolu, while addressing a press conference at the PDP secretariat in Abeokuta on Saturday, denied collecting any money from the presidency or the campaign headquarters of the party in Abuja.
“I’m here to let the whole world know that I’m a loyal and honest member of our great party and at no time, anybody in the party, right from the National Secretariat of our party or the Presidency has given me one kobo,” he said.
The party leader said he only recently met with the national leadership of the campaign organisation.
“Last week, the Presidential Organization Committee (on) Mass Mobilization headed by Prof. Jerry Gana arranged a national training tagged ‘Operation Win Your Ward,” he said.
He added that representatives from all the states attended the training and that he and two others -Adepegba Otemolu and Dapo Adeyemi – represented Ogun State PDP.
‘The three of us represented the state at the training. The training went well and all the materials in terms of educational materials were handed over to us so that we’ll go back to our state and organize the same training for three persons per ward,” he said.
“The training programme was to take place last Monday, the16th but Jerry Gana sent a text message to me that due to non-availability of funds, the training programme should be rescheduled for Wednesday 18th of March and that willy-nilly, the fund for the training programme would be made available.”
The politician said due to lack of funds, he was reluctant about proceeding with the training.
“On Wednesday 7 a.m., I called the chief organizer, that is Dapo Adeyemi. I warned him, I sent a text message that we should not go ahead with the training since the fund has not been made available. The text message is here for people to see.
“While I was contemplating on that, the national auditor who is my superior officer, Alhaji Wole Adeyanju called me that he had just landed at Murtala Airport for the same training because he’s a member of the national committee. He said whether I like it or not, the training must go on.
‘The training took place at Imperial Hotel, Quarry Road, and the assignment given to me is to talk, give a lecture on the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan. We did our accreditation, 756 attended, and the training programme commenced. After the national auditor’s speech, I was the next person as a zonal officer to talk and give my own lecture which I did and everybody was happy. They gave rounds of applause, people were happy’,he explained.
The crisis which led to the assault on Mr. Otemolu started a few hours later.
“But at the end, around 2 p.m., we had not received one kobo from the national committee headed by Jerry Gana. Then I called the national auditor who is the most senior person, please address our people. Tell them that the funds for the honorarium has not been made available. They should exercise patience as soon as the money is available, it would be given to their local government coordinators,” he said.
“Before he finished that statement, there was an uproar and they started throwing chairs. They said unless they were given money, none of us would leave the venue. We were held hostage for four hours and towards the end, I appealed to them and that they should allow us to go and that as soon as the money is available, we’ll let them know.”
The protesters, however, refused to bulge.
“I moved into my car but before you knew what was happening, they damaged the whole car, Honda Pilot and the car is at the Adigbe Police Station, presently. The windscreen, the rear light, the side glass, damaged; they vandalized the vehicle, back and front simply because of the non-availability of funds,” the party scribe said.
Mr. Otemolu said neither he nor any of the organisers received the money meant for the protesters.
“Nobody gave me any dollar. I did not collect one kobo from anybody. If anybody was to be given money, it should have been Dapo Adeyemi whose bank information was submitted. But in fairness to him, no kobo, nothing,” he said.
Explaining how he was assaulted, he said, “They beat me mercilessly, they tore my dresses, they were shouting Ole! Ole! I could not believe that people from my party could treat me in that manner. They are from my party.
“I was stripped half-naked and beaten. They stole my personal money, wrist watch, my necklace, my bead and total cash of about N80,000.”
Mr. Otemolu also confirmed that the presidency later intervened in the crisis.
“Around 11 a.m. the following day, I got a call from the National Security Adviser to the President that I should explain what happened and that by virtue of their job, they were supposed to be in the know. I narrated the whole story just like I’m telling you now and he said he would get back to me in due course’.
“So, in short the National Security Adviser to the President is aware of the maltreatment given me. And I want to make it known that the same training exercise took place in some South West states.
“I’m aware of Osun State that has not collected one kobo from the same source. They have not collected one kobo and this fact can be verified from (Olusola) Obada who handled Osun. They have not paid them and they never went on any rampage. They have not been paid just like Ogun. Osun has not been paid and they did the training and heaven did not fall. Why Ogun?
‘So, when they now said I collected dollars from President Goodluck Jonathan and I refused to give them and I was running away, it was not true. I did not collect one kobo from anybody. I took part in the training, I gave them a lecture about the achievements of the president and after the lecture people were demanding for honorarium which I was not able to give.
When asked if he intends to take legal or disciplinary action against his attackers, Mr. Otemolu said he would not.
“I’m a leader in the party and those people in the party are very junior to me and if I have to start taking action, whether within the party, disciplinary action or take a legal action against them, it would be unbecoming of a leader. I’m a leader and they are leaders, too. I cannot take any legal action against them,” he said.
“But I know most of them. I know those who beat me and even from the Facebook, you can identify them. But for the oneness, I refuse and I will not take any legal and disciplinary action against them.”
Mr. Otemolu blamed leaders of the campaign headquarters in Abuja for the crisis.
“The truth of the matter is that those who are supposed to send money, failed in their duty. The organisers, headed by Jerry Gana that promised to send money as honorarium for the participants failed to send their money. I don’t have their kobo with me. I’m contented with what God has given me and I don’t feel taking people’s money would solve my problem.
“I want to tell the whole world that I don’t have access to President Goodluck Jonathan’s money; nobody gave me money and I’m not a thief and I’ve not stolen anything from anybody that would warrant the treatment given me.”
The party scribe also insinuated that the assault my have been instigated by persons opposed to his stance within the party.
‘Most of their actions were instigated, most of the actions of the mob were instigated. I do not want to implicate anybody. That thing was masterminded and the participants were instigated for all those actions. They were instigated within themselves not by people from outside,” he said.
He also said the hotel where the training held was yet to be paid contrary to reports; and lamented that the assault also affected his family.
“My children, three of them called me from the UK and they were weeping, telling me that I should withdraw from politics. So, all the members of my family have been embarrassed, including my wife.
“But because of my liking for politics, I told them they should not get unnecessarily worried. That it’s one of those things. I even narrated the story of Jesus Christ who was beaten and crucified.
“So, I’m not disturbed. I’ve not defected from the party. But the whole world should know that I’m not a thief and I’ve not taken one kobo from anybody,” he said.