A pan-Oyo pressure group, Oyo Global Forum, OGF, has raised alarm over the spate of violence accompanying the electoral campaigns in Oyo Town.
The group is a global network of Oyo indigenes, covering the four local government areas of Afijio, Atiba, Oyo East and Oyo West.
A statement by the group, made available to PREMIUM TIMES, on Monday read: “The leadership of Oyo Global Forum is deeply concerned by the recent spate of violence that has accompanied electoral campaign in the town.
“It is shocking and desperately disappointing that, in spite of repeated warnings this forum has issued on the matter of electoral violence, the situation is now escalating and innocent people have been, and are being, attacked and terrorised.”
This followed reported cases of violence between the supporters of the All progressives Congress, APC, and the Labour Party, LP.
The contest for the Oyo Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives by APC candidate, Akeem Adeyemi, the Alaafin’s son, and his father’s erstwhile godson, Kamil Akinlabi of Labour Party, has been reduced to a matter of life and death, with cases of alleged violent intimidation and attacks on Labour Party supporters by their APC counterparts.
Mr. Akinlabi, who won elections to the National Assembly twice allegedly with the support of the Alaafin, Lamidi Adeyemi, is of Isale- Oyo stock, a part of Oyo town that is in legal battle with the Alaafin over the controversial Alago-Oja stool.
The OGF said there were prospects of reprisal attacks which could worsen the situation.
“We are now even more worried now that unless something is done quickly by the security agencies with the close cooperation of the community and the candidates, the situation is now poised to get out of control. The temptation for people to take law into their hands, in the name of defending themselves, is high. Unfortunately, reprisal attacks can only make matters worse, not solve them,” the group said.
It also regretted the tendency of leading members of the community to politicise the violent incidents happening in the town.
“In the light of the sheer urgency and seriousness of this unfolding tragedy, it is disturbing that some community members, who should know better, are trying to see and address this from the standpoint of political interest. This is a dangerous game, at a time when everyone should come together and take a united stand against the tragedy of violence unfolding before our eyes. No one is safe or insulated from this crisis, and it is time we all worked together to nip it in the bud.
“This is not a matter of which party or which candidate to support, but about the security and stability of our one and only community. Without a secure and safe community, there can be nothing at all to build on,” it said.
It added that it was “planning an urgent summit of all candidates for office and representatives of political parties in Oyo Federal Constituency. We hope all the candidates will take up this offer and send a strong and united message against violence and intimidation ahead of the coming elections.”
In a related development, an executive member of OGF, Olanrewaju Mohammed, has alleged a threat to his life. He claimed he received the threat via telephone from an unknown caller, who sounded like a woman.
“She told me that I have been marked as a target and that she only called to warn me to desist from promoting Hon. Kamil Akinlabi against the candidate of the APC. The lady said my action was causing embarrassment to the palace (of the Alaafin) and if care was not taken I would be silenced forever,” Mr. Mohammed told PREMIUM TIMES.
However, a palace source said it was commonplace for “evil persons to hide under the umbrella of the palace to intimidate others, without the knowledge of the Alaafin.”
Similarly, another executive member of the group, Olugbenga Mosebolatan, a Baptist pastor, shortly after organising a peace summit, said he received a similar threat message.
When contacted, the Police Area Commander, Oyo Area Command, Taoheed Oladosu, said the police was working to ensure violence free elections in the town.
Mr. Oladosu added that cases of threats to life, if reported, would be “thoroughly” investigated.
He urged members of the public to report suspicious activities to the nearest police divisions “to control violent tendencies”.