By Gbenga Olarinoye
Osogbo—There was a drama in Osogbo yesterday when people suspected to be thugs disrupted a pro and anti-Aregbesola protesters over a petition by Justice Folahanmi Oloyede, a serving judge of the state high court to the state House of Assembly to investigate Governor Rauf Aregbesola for alleged mismanagement of the state resources.
Pandemonium broke out when some heavily armed thugs laid siege on the state capital, dispersing both pro and anti-Aregbesola impeachment protesters.
The anti-Aregbesola protesters, in a march organised by a group Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun to rally support for the investigation of the governor by the state House of Assembly into the petition written by Justice Oloyede Folahanmi, shortly after it took off at Ayetoro junction, were pelted with sachet water by some suspected thugs.
But the protesters returned stronger, when they threw several sachet water packs back at the attackers, forcing them to retreat.
The thugs, however, staged another attack on the protesters who were mostly members of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, at Igbona area of the state capital, beating some of them with horsewhips.
In the confusion that followed, the protesters ran in different directions while many traders, attending the weekly Igbona market also abandoned their wares as the hoodlums had a field day.
The anti Aregbesola protesters, led by leader of CSCEO, Comrade Adeniyi Alimi, had earlier while addressing the protesters called for support of Osun people as the assembly members commence investigation into Justice Oloyede’s petition.
At Olaiya junction, where the pro-Aregbesola protesters, led by Comrade Wale Adebisi of Osun Progressive Left, OPL, Chief Amitola Shittu and Comrade Wahed Lawal, had gathered, some thugs also attacked a peaceful rally organised in support of Governor Aregbesola.
One of those who led the rally at Olaiya, and a civil right advocate, Comrade Amitolu Shitu, while addressing the crowd, said the people of Osun must be wary of selfish politicians using the salary issues to create tension and make Aregbesola appear like an enemy of the people.
Shitu said, “To the best of our knowledge, the Nigeria Labour Congress has identified at least 23 states of the federation where salaries are not paid up to date. In fact, if you look at the local government workers, Osun is one of the states owing the least number of months with the payment local government workers up till February and we are aware that even that of March is ready. There are states with up to 8 months of unpaid salaries in councils.
“The same thing goes for state civil servants. Why then is this crazy stigmatization of Osun and its governor? We are here to say enough is enough.”
The state police command in its reaction by the PPRO, Mrs Folashade Odoro, who condemned the development added that none of the two groups got police permission to stage any rally.
She also said that no arrest was made “as we are only interested in securing lives and property”.
In its reaction, the PDP, through Prince Diran Odeyemi, who spoke on phone told Vanguard that: “You all witnessed what happened in Osogbo today. State sponsored hoodlums and APC thugs attacked old men and women doing a peaceful protest, beating them.
“Funny enough, the party is blaming PDP for the crime its men committed. I advise them to devise new means of doing things because their old ways of committing crime and blaming it on the other party is no longer working.”
One of the anti-Aregbesola groups, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice, CHRSJ in its reaction strongly condemned the governor for allegedly sending “thugs popularly known as ‘State Boys’ to disrupt a peaceful protest against his government, which was organized by no fewer than 20 human rights and faith-based groups, under the aegis of Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State, CSCEOS”.
The group in a statement issued and signed by it’s Director of Mobilization and Planning, Comrade Abass Onikoyi, disclosed that Nigeria citizens have legal right to peaceful protest as being stipulated by the amended 1999 constitution.
“All Progressives Congress has congratulated the people of Osun, especially residents of Osogbo for routing PDP’s attempt at creating mayhem in the state capital today (Tuesday).
The PDP had mobilised a dubious coalition of so-called civil society ‘activists’ to demonstrate in support of civil servants’ strike over the salaries’ crisis, which the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari has now resolved.
“But unknown to the PDP, a huge crowd of APC supporters had gathered to celebrate the Federal Government’s intervention to help states that have been unable to pay workers salaries as a result of the massive looting of the nation’s treasury by the ousted Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP government.
“Before the PDP-sponsored hoodlums, in the name of civil society ‘activitists’ knew what was happening, an intimidating crowd of jubilant APC supporters emerged from the Alekuwodo axis of the state capital, Osogbo, and advanced to the potential trouble makers that were waiting at Olaiya.
A statement by Kunle Oyatomi for APC reads, “the APC hailed the people for this emphatic demonstration of solidarity with the governor and his Party in spite of the vicious campaign of hate and demonization of the Aregbesola government which the PDP has orchestrated in the last couple of weeks.
The party also thanked the security forces for standing firm in defence of law and order, which effectively kept in check agents and sponsors of chaos and violence in the state.
Osun Assembly chide ‘desperate politicians’
Meantime, the Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Hon. Najeem Salaam has expressed his dismay on “how some disgruntled politicians” were taking advantage of suffering workers to feather their nest, saying that the issue of delayed salaries and other challenges be depoliticized, so that the government would not be pushed to a desperate measure that may hurt the interest of the workers.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Goke Butika, Salaam lambasted the ‘desperate politicians’ who were masquerading as rights groups, but using blackmail and fake statistics to prosecute their abandoned war before and during the last year governorship election”, saying attacking the person of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola is a misrepresentation of reality of the situation.