Armed olicemen yesterday sealed off the Ekiti State Government House, preventing supporters of Governor Ayodele Fayose from gaining access.
A rally scheduled to take place at Fajuyi Park, near Government House, was broken up, as policemen fired teargas canisters into the crowd. They also shot sporadically into the air.
Fayose had called for the rally in support of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Deputy Governor Kolapo Olusola.
As at the time of filing this report, no human or vehicular movement was allowed through the Fajuyi area into Government House.
One Abiola, a close aide to Fayose, was arrested and is being detained at the police headquarters in Ado Ekiti.
Policemen reportedly went after PDP members, who fled into Government House, and flushed them out.
Wearing a neck brace later, Fayose narrated his ordeal at the hands of mobile policemen, saying he was beaten, slapped and shot at.
He said: “My people, the Lord will fight this battle. This is not the democracy we asked for. I hope they will not cause a repeat of the 1983 situation.
Ekiti is now under siege. How can I be a governor and be treated like this? I will go to hospital and stay for a while. I am having a lot of pain.
“I bear this because of you. The International community should come to our aid.
Ekiti is in trouble. Come and save Ekiti in this hour of her need. They said that they have institutions to kill the PDP candidate or me. The Lord will not allow them.” Fayose wept.
Olusola buttressed the governor’s claims, saying Fayose was hit on the neck with the butt of a gun.
He said he (Olusola) was also hit on the foot and shoulder.
He claimed that having introduced himself as deputy governor to the police boss on ground, the latter had rebuffed him, allegedly saying: “Deputy governor my foot!” insisting he was carrying out orders.
Images have since emerged online, showing Fayose sitting on the ground, eyes shut, seemingly dazed. One particular image showed a man administering what might have been first aid treatment.
The PDP, meanwhile, described the incident as an assassination plot.
Addressing journalists at its secretariat in Abuja, National Chairman Uche Secondus said: “This morning, in its desperation to forcibly take over Ekiti State, the APC-led Federal Government deployed armed police personnel led by one Compol Mopol Echel Echel, who blocked the Ekiti State Government House, attacked and placed the democratically elected governor of Ekiti State, Governor Ayodele Fayose, under house arrest. At the moment, no one goes in or out of the Government House.
“The invading police squad sacked the official security at the Government House, fired sporadically into the premises during which Governor Fayose was beaten up by policemen and brought down by volleys of teargas while several others were injured.
“This, we have been informed, is part of the ‘order from above’, in line with the earlier boast by the Buhari-led APC, to ‘cage’ Governor Fayose ahead of the July 14, 2018 Ekiti governorship election, so as to grant their agents a field day to rig the election.
In fact, we have been made aware that the invasion was a plot to assassinate Governor Fayose and blame it on accidental discharge by one of the policemen.”
He added: “We know that this is part of the desperate effort by the APC-led Federal Government to intimidate, subjugate, frighten and overawe the people and unleash a rigging mechanism for the election.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, in a statement issued by his spokesman Ikechukwu Eze, said: “I am appealing to the security agencies deployed in Ekiti State for the governorship election to carry out their duties according to the laws of the land by securing the state in a manner that will enable a peaceful electoral process.
“If it is true that the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, was assaulted as reported in the media, my appeal is that such should not be allowed to happen again, since the governor’s constitutional immunity guarantees that he should be given official protection to freely conduct the business of governing the state.”
In its denunciation, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) accused the current government of behaving like a “dictator.”
Secretary General Willy Ezegwu in a statement said: “Why is it when an election is imminent that the government wants to use the police and soldiers, and is deploying 30,000 armed personnel to the state? It is very uncalled for.
It only exposes the government on whatever agenda it wants to pursue there.
What is happening in Ekiti is not only for Nigerians; the whole world is interested and is watching.
The current Buhari government should be ashamed of the country it is managing and how it is handling issues.”
Human rights lawyer, Dr. Femi Aborisade, joined in condemning “the repression of the PDP rally by the police.”
He said: “Our courts have pronounced that Nigerians have the right to protest and embark on rallies peacefully without police permit while the police have the right to arrest any protester who infringes on the law in the course of rallies.
The police have no right to decree that protesters must first obtain police permit.
“We reject that statement and the repression of the PDP rally in Ekiti State as undemocratic, barbaric, totalitarian, backward, illegal and unconstitutional.
If the police can prevent peaceful rallies led by a governor, ordinary people, students and workers would be more viciously repressed.”
But an APC chieftain in Ekiti State, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, described the occurrence as a “stunt” by Fayose to win sympathy votes. “Fayose has always been a dramatist.
He has always been acting drama. Ekiti people should ignore him and remain resolute in their determination to throw him out of office and out of Ekiti State completely on July 14,” he said.
This is as the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operations, Habilal Joshak, yesterday said the security details of Fayose, All Progressives Congress candidate Kayode Fayemi, and other personalities in Ekiti, would be withdrawn on Saturday.
He told reporters in Ado Ekiti that no political party would be allowed to hold any unauthorised rally until the election is held.
In a related development, the Senate yesterday asked Buhari to set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate all cases of human rights abuses allegedly committed by security agencies in the last three years.
It also asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to appear before it in plenary to explain the constitutional basis for the controversial Executive Order 006.
The order is aimed at restricting dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption, to preserve such assets from dissipation and deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities.
Adopting a motion sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, David Umaru (APC, Niger), the upper chamber urged Buhari to end the violation of human rights across the country.
The Federal Government was also urged to demonstrate commitment to the observance of the rule of law in the fulfillment of its constitutional obligation.
Efforts by a few Buhari loyalists to stop the debate failed, with the majority of the senators arguing that the parliament is the right place to debate threats to democracy.
Senator Jibril Barau (APC, Kano) noted that some matters raised in the motion were already before the court.
He was, however, overruled by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who argued that what the Senate was debating was not the issue raised but violations of human rights and breaches of constitution.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia), who was just released by the Department of State Services, said it was unfortunate that some senators could support the government.
Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) warned that people, who think they are currently being favoured by this government, could become future victims of rights abuses.
The Senate noted: “In the last few years, Nigeria’s democratic credentials have become questionable as a result of the alarming cases of alleged state-inspired human rights violations and consistent constitutional infractions perpetrated by agencies of government.
“It is alarming that in the recent past, allegations abound that the executive has not only consistently violated the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens particularly the rights to dignity of human person and right to personal liberty as guaranteed respectively under section 34 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended but also infringed on the constitution in several ways.
Notable instances of such human rights violations are well documented by the Human Rights Watch and other reputable human rights organisations.”
The Senate also described as worrisome the “lack of accountability for human rights violations by security agencies and other militant elements including armed herdsmen; heavy-handed violent responses to peaceful protests as exemplified by previous crackdown on agitators for the Independent State of Biafra (IP0B) and the recent violent clashes between the police and suspected members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMM) who were protesting the detention of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaki in Abuja and Kaduna.”
The motion regretted the “gradual descent of the country into anarchy and despotism as a result of indiscriminate arrests, unconstitutional detention of citizens under questionable circumstances as was the fate of the Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who was whisked away by a detachment of DSS personnel, while attending a function at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and later kept incommunicado for five days.”