Nigerian policemen in Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State, South West on Thursday disrupted a rally by a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Bamidele Opeyemi, meant to declare his interest in the governorship race in the state.
Mr. Bamidele, who belongs to the same party as the state governor, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, arrived the state capital with his entourage at 12.30pm, but were prevented from carrying out what they came for as riot policemen, who had earlier taken over the entire Ado-Ekiti, fired tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd who had come to witness the event.
Meanwhile, in order to ensure that the event did not take place, members of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) had early in the morning barricaded the road from Ajebandele in Ajilosun area up to Okeyinmi junction.
When Mr. Bamidele and his entourage got to Oke Isha area of the town, they were attacked by the riot policemen who fired tear gas canisters directly at the convoy, thereby forcing the entourage to divert to Dalemore via the Stadium.
Bamidele’s initial address to his supporters billed for Rose Bud Primary School field was thwarted by the police and was later moved to his campaign office in Basire Area of Ado-Ekiti, where the police also stopped from happening.
The policemen at Bibire Coalition office at Basiri-Iyin road, shot sporadically into the air in order to disperse the people who had gathered to catch a glimpse of Mr. Bamidele and his entourage. The policemen’s action led to many of the residents sustaining injuries and subsequently rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment.
Members of the two unions – RTEAN and NURTW – had as early as 7am barricaded the Ado-Ekiti-Akure road as well as other roads linking the state capital ostensibly to prevent Mr. Bamidele’s supporters from other local governments within the state from having access to Ado-Ekiti.
Members of the two unions were brandishing dangerous weapons such as guns and machetes to scare away passersby. School children, traders and other road users were harassed by the hoodlums.
Reacting to the action of the policemen, the state command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Victor Babayemi, said the rally was disrupted because it was not “yet time for political rally”.
He said Mr. Bamidele and his men had violated section 99 of the Electoral Act 2011 as amended, adding that what they embarked upon was a political campaign and not a rally.
Mr. Babayemi said that before any campaign could be embarked upon, it has to be 90 days before election, which he said Bamidele had violated.
On the transport workers action, he said the police took a proactive action to prevent hoodlums from causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
According to him, “Road transport workers had earlier in the morning staged a violent rally on the premise that government did not give them bus, we only wanted to prevent hoodlums from hijacking it.”
Since declaring his intention to run for governor, Mr. Opeyemi has been serially attacked persons suspected to be loyal to the governor of the state, Mr. Fayemi. The attacks had led to criticisms against the governor who was a former pro-democracy activist during the military era.