Ex-lawmaker, others injured as Ondo APC factions clash

Some people were injured at Irele in Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State at the weekend as fracas characterised the local government congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

Although many party members decided to either boycott or organise parallel congresses in order to prevent a repeat of the violence which dogged the party’s ward congress a week earlier, the congress in Irele was marred by violence clashes among sup-porters of various leaders within the party.

The leaders jostling for the control of the party at the council level were the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the local government, Prince Gbadebo Odimayo, and a former lawmaker, Afolabi Iwalewa, on one hand and the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Emmanel Igbasan, on the other. Among the injured were Iwalewa and Odimayo, who sustained various degrees of injury. Iwalewa, who spoke with journalists yesterday, explained that trouble started when the leader of the party in the area and Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Igbasan, led some hoodlums to the venue of the congress.

The former lawmaker said members of the party in the local government had assembled at the party secretariat for the exercise, waiting for the officials and party leaders but most of the members were disappointed when they learnt that the congress would not hold.

He said: “Igbasan and some leaders of the party in the local government area insisted that the current executives of the party at the local government level should continue in that capacity while we wanted a congress to usher in new leaders.

“They invaded the party secretariat with hoodlums numbering 30 and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare away people while some people were (attacked with) machetes and beaten to coma. Iwalewa said he ran into the chairman’s office and he came out after the caretaker chairman had called the security agents.

But according to him, the presence of the security operatives did not save him as the hoodlums descended on him and inflicted injuries on him. He, however, said he was rescued by the policemen and taken away from the scene in a police van. Odimayo, who corroborated Iwalewa, said Igbasan was the mastermind of the violence.

He added that the commissioner and his team were indisposed to conducting a congress. Odimayo said he was not in support of Igbasan and his group to allow the current executives to continue since there was no directive to that effect.

He, however, said he left the place unhurt because most of the thugs knew him and could not beat him but warned him to leave the venue immediately. The chairman, however, said “my special assistant is critically lying in the hospital, while a supervisor in the local government was also beaten to coma”. Igbasan, however, described the allegations as “unfounded and far from the truth”.

He accused Iwalewa and Odimayo of disrupting the congress. The commissioner said there was no attempt to impose the current executives. He said: “I was addressing the party members at the secretariat when Odimayo and some hoodlums invaded the venue and disrupted the whole exercise.

“I left the venue because of the charged atmosphere and left for my house with some party leaders. I invited Odimayo to a meeting with a view to find a solution to the crisis but I was surprised to see hoodlums who invaded my house despite the presence of security operatives.”