Fayose broke down in tears ahead of the Ekiti governorship election. We spoke to both sides of the political divide to ascertain what really happened.
“I am in pains. I am in severe pains. I can’t turn this neck anymore. If anything happens to me, the Inspector General of Police should be held responsible”, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose moaned through a cascade of tears, while propping his head with both hands.
He was inconsolable.
How it began
On Wednesday, July 11, 2018, a detachment of police officers fired teargas canisters into a crowd of PDP faithful who had assembled at the Fajuyi Park in Ado-Ekiti.
Fajuyi Park is perched near the government house and the crowd had gathered to kick off a campaign rally for PDP candidate in the July 14 governorship election, Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka.
Gunshots were heard as well from footage shared by social media users and teargas fumes could be seen billowing into a tense Ekiti skyline.
Moments later, Governor Fayose was seen sitting on the floor while being surrounded by some of his aides. He was trying to catch his breath and looked in agonising pain.
The governor said he was slapped with the butt of a police gun and was told to his face that his life could be taken right there and then.
“I was slapped by a policeman who kicked me and shot at me”, Fayose told the crowd after dispersed PDP faithful regrouped at the park.
He had a neck brace on and his wrist was strapped to his neck collar. He also looked like he could barely walk. He was also struggling to get his words out through the public address system. He was crying too.
“They said they were under strict instruction from the presidency to kill me and my deputy who is the candidate of our party. This is an army of occupation. I want you to stand and remain standing, I pray they don’t kill me and put Ekiti in crisis. How can a State governor be treated like this in his own State?”
‘Orders from above’
Deputy Governor Eleka who is the PDP candidate for the governorship election, said the police hit Fayose on the neck with the butt of a gun. Eleka said he was also beaten by irate police officers who were “acting on orders from above to assassinate the governor”.
Eleka said after he introduced himself to a police boss at the scene as deputy governor of Ekiti, the police boss had blared through bloodshot eyes: “deputy governor my foot!”
Fayose’s PDP describe all of what played out as an assassination attempt on the governor and part of a grand plot by the presidency to suppress the will of the people ahead of voting day.
PDP Chairman Uche Secondus said “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. What happened today is a coup against democracy. Governor Fayose was beaten up by policemen and brought down by volleys of teargas while several others were injured”.
However, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of Operations, Joshak Habila, said Fayose was only putting on a show for the cameras as no one physically assaulted him.
Habila added that the police dispersed the rally with teargas canisters because it was an illegal rally.
“We are not here to usurp the authority of Governor Fayose. We are not here to rubbish him because he represents the people; but we are not going to allow any unauthorised rally that can trigger violence in the state.
“You can see that the state is tensed up. As law enforcement agents, we must be proactive and take actions that can prevent crisis rather than trying to quell it after it might have broken out”, Habila said.
Is Fayose owing commercial transporters?
Writing on his Twitter page, Oguntoyinbo Ismael (@lanreneville) said the breakdown of law and order in Ekiti in the last couple of hours, was all down to Fayose himself.
Ismael wrote that the inability of Fayose to “settle the drivers he called to park their vehicles in the government house in order to cause traffic difficulty for APC members” who had staged a mega rally in Ekiti 24 hours prior, led to the violence in Ekiti.
Reports say in order to make it doubly difficult for visiting APC chieftains, including President Buhari, Fayose prevented transport operators from going about their business on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Commercial motorbikes were also asked to stay off the roads for a fee, Ismael alleged.
According to Ismael; “One of the drivers union leaders, Kamoru Ojuolape, who stormed the government house this morning to demand for the money promised them, said they were angry because the governor failed to pay them the N10,000 he promised them for parking their vehicles overnight in order to disrupt the APC rally.
“He said the drivers became unruly when they discovered that some parts of their vehicles had been stolen. Requests to see the governor were turned down while some of the aides of the governor blasted the drivers who responded by throwing punches.
“Some of the governor’s aides joined the fray, which further drew the anger of other drivers. In the orgy of violence that ensued, policemen were called in to quell the riot with tear gas. Pictures of the governor who was nowhere near the scene, appeared on the internet that he was teargassed.
“The police have invited the leaders of the drivers to the police headquarters to settle the matter. Shortly afterwards, Fayose appeared with neck collar on television, claiming that the police wanted to kill him over Saturday’s election”.
Pulse has been unable to independently verify at the time of filing this report, if a clash between angry transporters and the Ekiti government was what led to the violence in Ekiti.
Another witness who did not want to be named for this story, shared a tale similar to Ismael’s.
Fall out with Eleka
An insider in Ekiti government house told Pulse on the basis of anonymity that Fayose has ripped apart the rule book as he tries to win the governorship election for his deputy, Eleka.
The source also revealed that Fayose has fallen out with Eleka over campaign financing.
“Fayose ordered a curfew on the only market day before the election weekend. People ignored him because not going to the market means whatever they get in their surrounding will be more expensive on the election weekend.
“He has scammed a lot of people. He is laying the ground work for excuses when his candidate loses. Top PDP politicians gave him billions of naira. None touched his candidate’s hand.
“Fayose took buses from the government house, had them painted with PDP colours at his house and charged Eleka’s campaign fund N145m for 7 new campaign buses”.
Another source in Ekiti told Pulse that “Eleka begged Fayose to offset a part of the workers’ salary because there is enough money to pay. He refused. Eleka now reported to Afe Babalola (SAN). Babalola now called Fayose. Fayose was very angry. He lashed out at the guy for over 4 hours for going to report him, saying he has already started misbehaving even though he’s not yet in office”.
Civil servants in Ekiti haven’t been paid accumulated monthly salaries.
Pulse couldn’t independently verify claims of a rift between Fayose and Eleka. Calls placed to Fayose’s spokesperson, Lere Olayinka and text messages sent to his mobile for a reaction, went unanswered.
APC chairman in Ekiti, Jide Awe, said Fayose’s neck collar and tears is sufficient to win him the prize of “comedy of the year”.
“It is entirely a security matter. The governor is the Chief Security Officer and should know how to conduct himself properly in the public”, Awe said.
Just before exiting the grounds of Wednesday’s campaign rally in tears, Fayose summoned the international community to rescue Ekiti.
“I plead with the international community to intervene. Nigeria is in trouble. Ekiti is in crisis.
“In the last few days, they have arrested PDP members, teachers and civil servants. People of good conscience should come and save Ekiti”, Fayose said.
The battle for Ekiti
Dr Kayode Fayemi of the APC–who was Ekiti governor from 2010 to 2014 before he was unseated by Fayose–wants a return to government house to complete a constitutionally permissible two terms of 8 years.
Fayemi resigned from Buhari’s cabinet where he was mines and steel minister, to contest the governorship seat in his home State.
Having concluded his second term as governor, Fayose is propping up Eleka of the PDP to succeed him.
The battle for Ekiti government house has been foul mouthed and violent on occasion. The APC controls 24 States in the federation to PDP’s 11.
The governing APC is keen on adding Ekiti to its kitty of States. Ekiti is the sole Southwest State under the PDP’s control.
The APC sacked the PDP from the center in the March 2015 election.