Bottle-up animosity in the Ogun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was uncorked, on Thursday, as thugs took over the state secretariat of the party in Abeokuta, the state capital.
The suspected thugs arrived at the secretariat armed with clubs, bottles, iron, charms and other dangerous weapons.
It was confusion around Leme area of Abeokuta, as the hoodlums stormed the secretariat to disrupt a meeting of members of the harmonisation committee of the party.
They had apparently got wind of a meeting scheduled for the secretariat by National Assembly members from the party and threatened to deal with anyone that dared to hold any meeting in the secretariat.
They pounced on artisans who were going about their lawful businesses close to the secretariat and beat up many of them, while one of them was stabbed on the biceps of his left arm.
Car dealers got a bitter taste of the brute of the attackers, with two of the vehicles on display had their windscreens smashed.
People, who live on Abiola Way, where the secretariat is located, shot the scenes created by the thugs from far distance, having witnessed the magnitude of the attack on others.
Journalists, who raced to the scene to have it captured in film, went through hell in the hands of the thugs and sustained various degrees of injuries, just as cameras of two television stations (MITV and Galaxy) and cell phones of reporters were forcefully taken by the thugs.
The suspected thugs vandalised property and pounced on journalists who had come to cover the meeting at about 10.30 a.m.
National Assembly members of the party who had planned to hold a meeting at the secretariat had to detour to Iwe Iroyin, where they addressed newsmen.
Soldiers and policemen at the scene of the chaos were watching the hoodlums attacking the innocent journalists with weapons, with the hoodlums carting the items away.
Meanwhile, members of the state harmonisation committee, led by Senator Gbenga Kaka, during a press conference held at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, kicked against any form of imposition from any quarters in the constitution of the committee.
The press conference had in attendance Senators Gbenga Obadara and Akin Odunsi. Seven out of nine members of the House of Representatives from the state, Honourables Segun Williams, Olumide Osoba, Adekunle Adeyemi, Abiodun Abdul-Balogun, Kehinde Odeneye, Bukola Buraimoh and Babatunde Ogunola, were also in attendance.
Others at the conference included the national ex-officio of the party, Yemi Sanusi; the state chairman of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Alhaji Olalekan Wasiu and Alhaji A. Bajo.
Kaka said members of the interim executive committee were Chief Sunday Sowunmi (treasurer), Honourable Ogunola (organising secretary) and himself being the secretary, while the chairman would be nominated by the state governor and the public relations officer to be nominated by the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Kaka said members of the party were opposed to some people who had decided to be parading themselves as acting chairmen, interim executives at the state, local government wards and polling units with no legal backing.
The members, according to Kaka, were attempting to usurp the functions of the yet-to-be inaugurated harmonisation committee, saying that the act had led into commotion in all the 236 wards in the state.
The federal lawmaker said the formal inauguration of the harmonisation committee was fixed for Thursday at 4.00 p.m, to be conducted by the South-West zonal vice chairman of the party, saying that the inauguration was put off, following an attempt to manipulate the exercise.
“Following the apparent attempt at manupulating our constitution and breaching the national guidelines, the inauguration was purportedly put-off.
“However, having formed the majority of the harmonisation committee membership and believing that nature abhors vaccum, there is the need for purposeful leadership.
“After the inaugural meeting of the interim state executive, modalities for the structure formation at the local government, wards and polling units shall be put in place for a smooth registration of our members.
“Loyal members of our great party are advised to stay calm in the face of provocation from any quaters and totally reject any imposition in whatever guise.
“All illegal structures and committees put in place at various levels are null and void and are of no effect whatsoever. All ongoing illegal registration as well are equally invalid and should be disregarded,” he said.
Addressing party loyalists and National Assembly members after the situation had been brought under control, a former governor of the state and leader of APC, Chief Olusegun Osoba, said it was regrettable that the state government could unleash terror on the same people that stood through thick and thin for him to be elected in 2011.
He charged APC members in the state to adopt a tit-for-tat approach against the pro-government faction of the party henceforth, promising never to restrain anyone from retaliating unprovoked attacks.
“I have been holding people from retaliating unprovoked attack. But henceforth, I am not going to restrain anyone. If they hit you on the right cheek, do not turn the left one to them. If they blow hot, you should also blow hot,” he said.
Reacting to Osoba’s threat, however, the interim chairman of the state chapter of APC, Alhaji Tajudeen Bello, accused the former governor of fuelling crisis within the party.
Bello alleged that the national leader of the party was masterminding the violence that happened at the party secretariat.
He also alleged that the thugs that unleashed terror on the journalists and residents were brought from Lagos.
“It was a great surprise that a new dimension is being introduced into the politicking of Ogun State, more so, from so-called responsible politicians that the people give very high regards.
“But unfortunately, early this morning, we got a report from our staff at the secretariat that some people just came to attack them for no just cause and in the process, they injured some of our staff there.
“I had to quickly phone them and the police that they should vacate the secretariat, because this is a party that does not believe in violence.
“However, immediately after the attack, which was so much unexpected, we learnt that our revered leader, Chief Osoba, also came with the members of the National Assembly and addressed them that he was spoiling for a fight, he was ready for a fight.
“I would not believe that he said so, because he happens to be a builder of this party and they say what you build you don’t destroy. And as an elder statesman, every expectation is that he should always play a mediatory role in case of any issue whatsoever.
“The unfortunate issue is when our leader was even addressing them, there were sporadic gunshots into the air. One could not imagine what the mission was.
But thank God, because of the maturity of the leadership of the APC in Ogun State, we never intended to meet violence with violence. It is our plan to curb violence in this state. We place the issue on the record,” he said.
The Ogun APC interim chairman also alleged that the thugs who unleashed violence at the party secretariat were brought in from Lagos.
“Generally, we all believed that they came in a van; they relatively came from Lagos. You will agree with me that the van came through Kobape into our state.
“So, by inference, they came from Lagos and they must have been brought by people that have ulterior motive to disrupt the peace.”