The unrest trailing the impeachment attempt of the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, took a tragic turn yesterday as one person, identified as Modupe Olaiya, was killed in Efon Alaaye, Efon Local Government Area of the state, as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) staged violent protests against the attempt by the 19 All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers to impeach the governor.
Eyewitnesses told newsmen in Ado Ekiti that the APC lawmakers were coming from Osun State and had run into the barricade mounted by the protesters at Ita Ore, a border town between Ekiti and Osun States.
The victim was said to have sustained gunshot injuries, as the police fired several shots to disperse the protesters, who had already taken over the Ado-Ita Ore-Ilesa road.
However, efforts made by the APC lawmakers to have a sitting was aborted, as soldiers stationed at Ita Ore were said to have prevented their convoy from entering the state.
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As the protests raged, a Hilux van with registration number AA 363 YEK, conveying gun-wielding thugs heading to the Assembly complex had a head-on collision with a police patrol van at the Secretariat road in Ado Ekiti where three of the thugs were said to have been arrested.
Aside Ado Ekiti, protests against the impeachment move were also held in major towns such as Efon Alaaye, Iworoko, Aisegba, Ikere, Ise and Ogotun Igbemo. The protests stalled human and vehicular traffic for several hours as all major roads leading to the state were blocked.
Some SSS 3 students, who are presently sitting for the examination conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) outside the capital city could not get vehicles to convey them to their various centres, as the thugs asked them to go back home.
The protesters, who had gathered at major spots in Ado Ekiti metropolis like: Ajilosun, Ijigbo, Secretariat Road, Okesa, Ojumose and old Garage as early as 6.30am, barricaded the roads with planks and vehicles and made bonfires which hindered free movement for several hours.
Civil servants and traders, who had reported to their places of work, had to return home for fear of attack, while the commercial motorcyclists had a bad day as they were prevented from carrying out their businesses following the barricades that were placed on the roads by the protesters.
Sequel to the violent nature of the protests, the state’s Police Commissioner, Mr Taiwo Lakanu, deployed Armoured Personnel Carriers and armed personnel to all the affected towns and trouble spots, while the House of Assembly complex was sealed off by heavily-armed policemen.
What actually fuelled the violent protests was the rumour that the APC lawmakers were set to further the work on the impeachment notice served the governor last Friday.
Meanwhile, the State Head of Service, Dr. Gbenga Faseluka, and organised labour under the leaderships of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had besieged the Assembly in protest and warned the lawmakers against plunging the state into violence.
The organised labour in another statement signed by the NLC Secretary, Ade Obatoye, TUC Secretary, Joseph Adebayo and JNC Secretary, Oladele Ayodeji, enjoined the entire workforce to see the present development as a way of fomenting trouble in the state and put their lives at risk.
The Deputy Governor, Dr. Kolapo Olusola, who responded on behalf of the governor, likened the APC lawmakers’ onslaught against Fayose to the biblical war of Egypt against the Israelites, and expressed confidence that the governor would triumph over his enemies.
“This Egyptian war led by APC will be defeated. Governor Fayose did not elect himself, but you put him there. This is just a passage and it will go by the grace of God. I want to assure you that we will see no more of this war against an anointed man in a few days' time,” the deputy governor boasted.
But despite the confidence expressed by the deputy governor, the leadership of the PDP yesterday called on the President-elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), to intervene in the impeachment plot against Governor Fayose.
The party said the intervention of Buhari was necessary as PDP did to save the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al Makura from impeachment last year.
PDP also pledged to cooperate with the incoming administration to the extent that it would not jeopardise the overall interest of democracy.
However, it said that inasmuch as it pledged to cooperate with the in coming administration, PDP would not sit down and watch the intimidation and harassment of its members by the APC.
According to the PDP National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metu while addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, "We therefore urge General Muhammadu Buhari as the leader of the APC to call his members and supporters, particularly in Lagos and Ekiti to order; especially bearing in mind that it was the peaceful atmosphere and the level playing field nurtured by the PDP-led administration that created the room for his emergence at the presidential poll.
"The flimsy reasons being touted by the out-going lawmakers in Ekiti State who have since lost their electoral value is part of the APC agenda to seize power in the state through the back door.
"Our country cannot at this moment afford to slide into anarchy, reign of terror and deliberate schemes to divide the people for selfish political reasons."
The PDP spokesman accused the APC of underground moves to intimidate PDP members and cause them to defect to the APC.
Metuh said the PDP has it on good authority that part of the agenda of the APC is to intimidate and harass its members especially officials who served under the outgoing administration.
Accordingly, he said: "Because we are convinced that the APC lacks what it takes to sustain our democracy, the PDP is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that it returned to power in the next four years to save the nation’s democracy and re-channel our vision of a greater Nigeria.
"Nigerians should see Saturday’s governorship and state house of assembly elections as very important vehicle to check mate the selfish agenda of the APC against our nation.
"On our part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is fully prepared for this very important round of elections and will not leave anything to chance. We have fully activated our structures across the country and our members and supporters have been adequately rallied for the polls."
Beside the call for Buhari’s intervention, the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers will tomorrow summon the two sides to a truce parley.
The Chairman of the Council and the Onitaji of Itaji-Ekiti, Oba Adamo Babalola, said in Itaji-Ekiti yesterday th at monarchs in the state would not fold their arms and watch the situation degenerate.
Commenting on the situation, Oba Babalola warned against resorting to violence, saying "We have been told the run away legislators are coming back to Ekiti State and that impeachment notice has been served.
“I don't know whether that is true, but we need to give peace a chance and allow the Obas to come in and deliberate on the matter.
"We have made attempts severally to settle the dispute between the executive and legislative arms. The legislators did not answer us.
"I don't know why coming to Ekiti should involve impeachment. We will hold a meeting on Thursday to deliberate on the matter.
"People should maintain peace and people should not be disallowed from doing their businesses. The court is there for adjudication and we should make use of that," he said.