The Ondo State Police Command on Sunday gave insight into its role in the fracas which occurred at the Ondo State House of Assembly following the Friday removal of the speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, and his deputy, Iroju Ogundeji.
Not less than 18 members of the assembly signed the impeachment notice, which resulted in the eventual sack of Mr Oleyelogun’s leadership and resulted in a clash of factions and thugs invasion of the assembly complex.
Political thugs allegedly loyal to the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, invaded the premises to stop the impeachment process; and in the event assaulted the lawmakers with dangerous weapons and damaged their cars.
The 18 lawmakers had accused the police of siding with the thugs. They said the police watched while the thugs unleashed violence on the lawmakers.
They specifically alleged that the Commissioner of Police in the state, Gbenga Adeyanju, who was present at the scene, did nothing to prevent the thugs from invading and desecrating the hallowed chambers of the house.
But speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, the spokesman of the command, Femi Joseph, said the allegation was not true.
He said, instead, the police commissioner met the fracas already on when he arrived at the complex with his men, and he actually brought the situation under control.
“You know when politicians begin their game, and when they can no longer handle their situation, they take police as the scapegoat,” Mr Joseph said.
“Our reaction to the incident that day was spontaneous. The Commissioner of Police was in his office when information reached him that the the House of Assembly was literally on fire because the members were fighting one another, exchanging fisticuff and destroying everything in sight, so much so that the tension was a threat to peace.
“The commissioner of police rushed down there with some of his men and there was already a fracas ongoing, it was immediately we got there that the commissioner and his men were able to douse the tension.
“If not for the intervention of the commissioner and his men, it is not what we are saying now, we will be saying. Because I am shocked at the way people will come and instead of appreciating the commissioner of police and his men, they will come round and put all the blame on us.
“It is very unfortunate, I am disappointed and I want to tell you that nothing of such happened. The fracas was already on, and immediately moved in with his men, we saw the thugs scampering for safety.
“How can the police commissioner see thugs or people fighting and he would look away? It is unthinkable. I want to tell you that that allegation is a lie from the pit of hell.
Mr Joseph said the thugs ran away as soon as they sighted the police and that no one was arrested.
“As soon as we arrived we saw people scampering for safety, the only people we met there were the lawmakers who were still quarrelling and we had to calm them down,” he further said. “We managed to pacify them and left. Nobody has come to say that he was assaulted or beaten up.”
Asked why none of the thugs were arrested, Mr Joseph said there was no complaint from any one of the members that they were being attacked by anyone.
He challenged the lawmakers to file a report or a petition of an attack and see if the police would not take proper action.
The newly elected speaker of the house, Olamide George, had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue him and his colleagues from alleged reign of terror in the state.
Mr George, alongside 17 other lawmakers, made the call at a news conference held in Ibadan on Saturday evening.
He said that the former speaker and his deputy were removed over established evidences of “gross misconduct, financial recklessness, abuse of power and incompetence” levelled against them.
He said his life and that of his deputy, as well as members of their family were being threatened since Friday over the impeachment, calling on the president to save democracy from collapse.
“We are duly elected members of the state assembly, acting within the confines of the constitutional duties at plenary,” stated Mr Goerge.
“Surprisingly, the impeached speaker led to the assembly, Mr Gbenga Adeyanju, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Ade Adetimehin, State APC Chairman, Mr Jacob Adebo, State Chairman, NURTW, about 50 heavily armed officers and thugs.
“They invaded the assembly and assaulted honourable members, assembly staff, journalists and visitors to the assembly complex.”
Mr George said that there were video and pictorial documentations of the alleged vandalisation of cars and properties worth several millions of naira by thugs under the supervision of the commissioner of police.
“It is an open secret that N1.3bn was approved and released for the 2018 budget of the assembly. The former speaker and deputy speaker jointly expended over a billion in the first quarter of 2018 without approval,” he alleged.
“This is the height of corruption. We cannot condone it. It is unacceptable to the people of Ondo whom we are representing and that’s why we chose the path of honour to partner with Buhari to flush corruption out of Ondo.”