The two feuding factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State on Saturday clashed at the party secretariat in Osogbo, with several persons sustaining varying degrees of injuries.
Witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES that the fight broke out after the two groups – one loyal to Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the other to his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola – met at the secretariat where they had gone to submit petitions over the just concluded ward congress of the party.
Buraimo Adeleye, a party member who said he was at the secretariat, accused the Aregbesola group of instigating the clash “for no just reason.”
“While waiting to have the appeal committee, who arrived late, the TOP [The Osun Progressives] group stormed the party secretariat in their large numbers and started chasing our members.
“This caused members to scamper for safety and that was how the fracas started.”
The TOP is the group loyal to Mr Aregbesola, the minister of interior.
One Nurudeen Ajetunmobi was said to have been severely injured alongside other party members by some unknown thugs.
Rauf Aregbesola [Photo Credit: Pearl News]
Protest at secretariat
Witnesses said a few minutes after the clash, the party members loyal to Mr Aregbesola returned to the secretariat in large numbers chanting ‘TOP TOP TOP,’ ‘loke loke.’ Loke is a Yoruba word for ‘top.’
A video shared on social media showed the protesters accusing the governor of sponsoring thugs to the party secretariat.
In the 21 minutes video, an elderly man in the crowd was seen saying, “Oyetola ko loni APC”, meaning, the governor is not the owner of the APC in the state.
But in his reaction, Mr Oyetola appealed to rival members of the party to maintain decorum and give peace a chance adding that the ongoing appeal process should be allowed to run its full course.
He also condemned what he termed as “unruly behaviour” exhibited by some aggrieved members of the party at the APC Secretariat in Osogbo, saying no sane society would condone any act of lawlessness.
The governor, who spoke through a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, directed security operatives to take charge of the party secretariat to prevent any further breakdown of law and order.
Mr Oyetola, while sympathising with individuals who sustained injuries, called on security operatives to fish out perpetrators and ensure justice is served.
“I appeal to party members, especially those who have already filed their petitions before the Appeal Committee over the conduct of the last Ward Congress in the State to sheathe their swords and toe the line of peace and the law.
“Since the matter is already before the Appeal Committee, they should allow the process to run its full course. We are known for peace as a people. We should do all in our power to sustain that recognition in our collective interest,” the governor said.
‘Plans to attack leaders’
On Thursday, the TOP had organised a press conference in Osogbo where they alleged that some people within the party and government were planning to attack leaders of their faction.
Adelowo Adebiyi, the TOP chairman, said the planned attack was because of the group’s struggle to restructure and re-energise the party.
But Gboyega Famodun, the APC caretaker chairman in the state and member of the group loyal to the governor, described the allegation as baseless.
Mr Omipidan also described the allegations as an attempt to smear his principal’s name.
He said Mr Adebiyi had, in the last three years, done everything to portray the governor and his administration as capable of violence.
“This was a man some persons tried to assassinate last year. God in his infinite mercies delivered him. Till date, Mr Governor has not lifted a finger. But if it were Adelowo, only God knows what would have happened,” Mr Omipidan said.
“At his level as the former acting chairman of the party, if he has any issue, he should see security operatives and give them the particulars that will aid their job rather than make spurious and unguarded statements.
“That said, I want to implore security operatives to be on the alert. Elder Adebiyi and others might be the ones actually plotting something sinister and might therefore just be looking for an alibi. Isn’t it said that we judge others by our own standards?“