With the recent killing of four members of Accord at a political rally in Ibadan, the spate of politically-motivated violence in Oyo State continues to rise. OLAOLU BILAU writes on the unfortunate story of a state, which until recently enjoyed relative peace, but has now returned to its violent past…
How Current Wave of Violence Started
It began last November at Oke Ado Area of Ibadan, where Governor Abiola Ajimobi was to round-off his state-wide tour of the 33 Local Government Areas in the state. Before the governor arrive the venue of the rally, some hoodlums had unleashed mayhem, killing a police inspector and injuring several other people.
Two days later, armed youths unleashed terror at Born Photo, Idi Arere, Popo Yemoja, Isale Osi all in Ibadan, shooting into the air, maiming residents and destroying properties, even the family house of former governor of the state and Accord governorship candidate, Senator Rashidi Ladoja was not spared.
On the morning of the incident, reprisal attacks were launched. Three persons lost their lives and many were injured.
As if that was not enough, violence also broke out during the rally organized by the state’s chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to flag off the campaign of its gubernatorial candidate, Engineer Seyi Makinde at Mapo Hill.
Then at a recent political rally of Accord in Odinjo Area of Ibadan, suspected thugs struck again, shooting sporadically into the crowd and killing four members of the party and injuring others in the process.
Political Parties Trade Blames
As the spate of violence increased, prominent members of some of the political parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Accord, and Labour Party, were busy pointing accusing fingers at one another.
While the ruling APC maintained that the opposition were behind the sudden resurgence of violence in the state, the opposition insisted the ruling party was responsible for the violence, saying it was intolerant of the opposition.
Until Recently, Oyo State Enjoyed Relative Peace
But before the recent spate of violence, the state had enjoyed relative peace after violent clashes involving factions of the state’s chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), frequent armed robbery attacks on banks and businesses during the tenure of the administration of the immediate past administration were brought under control through the establishment of the joint security network comprising, men of the Nigerian Army, the police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and code named Operation Burst.
Apart from infrastructural development, the other cardinal achievement for which the Abiola Ajimobi-led administration continued to pride itself was the restoration of peace and security to the state with the governor using every opportunity to dwell on the successes recorded in this respect.
But this is what some politicians in the opposition hate to hear and were often quick to denounce despite members of the public attesting to the fact that the current administration has been able to restore peace to the once troubled state. The politicians argue to the contrary. And in the heat of the recent violence, the Labour Party had issued a statement, mocking the ruling APC’s claim of restoring peace to the state just as its gubernatorial candidate, Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala insisted there was no peace anywhere.
Controversy Generated by Operation Burst
At a political rally in 2013, some former members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) were billed to decamp to Accord operatives of Operation Burst were alleged to have disrupted the programme at Olomi Area in Ibadan. Accord had consequently petitioned the president, calling for the scrapping of the joint security outfit on the basis of their alleged use for intimidation of political opponents.
Governor Ajimobi had also written a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing Ladoja of an attempt to promote violence in the state and describing his account of the Olomi incident as false and a calculated attempt to mislead the president to scrap Operation Burst.
In addition, men of the security outfit were said to have allegedly stormed the campaign headquarters of the SDP candidate Along Iwo Road and arrested members of the party on the allegation that hoodlums were congregating at the place.
Then in December last year, men of the Nigerian Army who were part of Operation Burst team were finally withdrawn on the orders of the Nigeria military high command, leaving behind the police and men of the security and civil defence corps in the joint security outfit.
The State Government had called the action an act of sabotage by the PDP to undermine its effort at sustaining the water-tight security in the state and a ploy to win the 2015 election at all cost.
“With this development, they (PDP) have further confirmed their culpability in the pockets of politically-motivated violence in some parts of Ibadan,’’ a statement by the APC Director of Media and Publicity, Olawale Sadare had said.
Close watchers of the event have however said that unless genuine urgent steps were taken to stem the recent upsurge in politically-motivated violence in parts of Ibadan, the state may gradually slide back to its pre-2011 state of lawlessness, violence and brigandage.