The governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede, has described the attack on his campaign train at Oba Akoko by supporters of the All Progressives Congress as an attempt on his life.
He told journalists in Akure on Wednesday that the firing of bullets sporadically at his vehicles by suspected political thugs confirmed insinuation that some elements wanted to murder him before the election day.
He said he had laid complaints before the State Security Services and the state Commissioner of Police on the matter.
He lamented that nobody has been arrested even after his report of the attack.
Several persons were injured and a vehicle burnt during the fracas that ensued between the supporters of both parties in Oba Akoko.
Both parties had traded blames on who was responsible for the clash.
Mr Jegede said he had spoken with Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on telephone to complain about the attack by the APC members, pointing out that the governor promised to call his supporters to order.
He said the governor had expressed shock and claimed ignorance of the attack.
“For by firing the first shot against our people and against the ideals of our peaceful demonstration of our civic right to choose who leads us, Governor Akeredolu has today declared war on our State,” he said.
“I urge our people to protect themselves and their heritage against the bully tactics of this dying government.”
He explained that the PDP campaign schedule ,which was submitted to the Police Command in Akure, authorised it to be in that local government as against the “unlawful” presence of Mr Akeredolu at the same venue.
He said his party and the campaign had done their part to rein their supporters at every provocation particularly from the APC, and called on the governor to do the same for the peace of our state.
“Recall again that our Party, the PDP originally fixed her campaign flag-off for Saturday 5th September, 2020 before the APC went ahead to pick the same date for her flag-off. In the interest of peace and the safety of our State we shifted our flag-off to a new date, at least to avoid bloodletting,” Mr Jegede noted.
“Even after conceding the earlier date to the APC, on the eve of our campaign flag-off, we have it on very good authority that the APC and the Governor’s thugs destroyed our campaign billboards and posters around the State capital.
“This is more pronounced largely around the Akure metropolis, which is considered the strong hold of our candidate. It is not lost on us that the Governor’s personal night patrol on the eve rather than work to prevent the visible destruction of PDP’s campaign posters only encouraged it.
“Today, the 16th day of September, 2020, having followed all laid down processes required to proceed on peaceful campaigns by the security agencies, and having been duly cleared to proceed on campaigns across Akoko South West Local Government, Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu led his convoy our way against the well established norms for peaceful elections.
“This is our position, that going forward , our people should from this moment avoid the rampaging and blood thirsty thugs of Gov. Akeredolu while ensuring that they remain resolute in our commitment to ending this vicious tyranny in our midst.”
Responding to Mr Jegede, Mr Akeredolu said he regretted the occurrence in Oba Akoko and urged Mr Jegede to rein in his supporters.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Olatunde Olabode, the governor described the violence as unfortunate, considering the prevailing peace that his administration has maintained in the state.
He recalled that on his way to Ikare-Akoko in continuation of his campaign, he saw some members of the PDP by the road side who waved at him and he waved back as their Governor, wondering what could have led to the violence which was brought to his notice while leaving the palace of Owa Ale of Ikare.
While calling on the PDP and its candidate to rein in their supporters, as he would do to those of the APC, the Governor restated that his campaign organisation believed in peace and will not negotiate that on the alter of politics or political aspiration.
He said the lives of the people of the state were more important than his election.
Mr Akeredolu also urged the police to ensure that the campaign itinerary of the various political parties was properly aligned henceforth so as not to allow the different political parties on the same corridor at the same time in order not to give room for any future clash which mostly occurs without the knowledge of the candidates and behind the leaders of the parties.
He also tasked the police to investigate the incident and prosecute any culprit arrested, to serve as deterrent to those who may want to cause trouble before, during and after the governorship election in the state.
The Commissioner of Police, Salami Bolaji, had earlier issued a warning to the parties to refrain from further violence or risk being brought to account before the law.
Mr Bolaji urged the political parties to maintain decorum in the affairs of their political campaigns according to electoral dictates and the laws of the land.