By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ado-Ekiti—Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RETAN, in Ekiti State, was yesterday, enmeshed in violence that left 11 members with machete cuts on their heads and other parts of their bodies.
It was gathered that trouble started when the national secretariat of the association appointed Aderiye Adebayo, aka Ojuigo as the interim state Chairman of the body, which did not go down well with the former Chairman, Rotimi Olanbiwoninu alias Mentilo, who allegedly mobilised his supporters to attack the acting Chairman and his supporters.
South-West Zonal Chairman, Mr. Fatimehin Isaac, said: “There have been violent attacks on our people for three days now. These attacks were led by a former state chairman of RETAN in Ekiti, Rotimi Olanbiwonninu (Mentilo), who has been bringing thugs armed with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons.
“On Saturday, when I was called on this matter by Sunday Adeola, a leader in our union, I explained to him that I had told all parties that those who chaired the state chapter of our union before should retire like me and allow others who haven’t been there to have their turn.
“He then advised that I have a meeting with Mentilo and Ojuigo and I said that was okay, but that I would like to have a meeting with him first and he agreed.
“However, less than 30 minutes after, thugs armed with guns and dangerous weapons came to my shopping complex and unleashed terror on everyone. They broke doors and windows in Ayinyin Shopping Complex and at my house behind the complex.
“We went to report the case to the Police at Oke-Ila, but were referred to the state Command. From there our men were again referred to the Oke-Isa Police Station, where the hospital treated some of our wounded members.”
While reacting to the allegation, Mentilo said: “It is all lies. I don’t have a hand in their crisis, but I have been trying to intervene, to bring solution to their crisis.
“I have been in the office since I was appointed Caretaker by the state and Abuja leader, since July 16. I have an official letter given to me from Abuja.
“On the other insinuation that I am no longer a member; it is a lie. They are jokers who don’t know what they are saying.
“Throughout the time I was wrongly committed to prison, I was their South-West Zonal Chairman and one of the National Vice President until June this year, when they dissolved the house. So they don’t know what they are saying.”
… as RETAN denies Mentilo
Speaking, National President of RETAN, Alhaji Iswele said: “We have a Caretaker Committee in place for RETAN in Ekiti and it is headed by Mr. Lekan Amusan. We haven’t given anyone a paper to recognise him as the chairman of the union in the state.
“When we got the report from our people that Mentilo attacked members with arms and thugs and chased them away from the terminals, we invited Mentilo to Abuja, but he refused to honour our invitation.
“We then advised the South-West zonal Chairman of RETAN, who is Alhaji Isaac Fatimehin, to petition the Inspector General of Police and copy us. We have a lawyer, who will take up the matter on behalf of the union.
“We have also set up a Caretaker Committee which offered to settle the matter. But the two warring parties, Ojuigo and Mentilo, failed to reach a peaceful pact. So we asked the Committee to continue leading the union.
“Mentilo is not our member. He has just been released from prison. He is no more a card-carrying member of the union because the constitution says that once you are away for more than three months from the union, you lose your membership.
“Mentilo has been away from us for more than a year now.”
We’ve not been briefed—Police
Contacted on phone, Police Public Relations Officer of Ekiti State Command, Caleb Ikechukwu, said he has not been briefed on the development, but promised to investigate the matter and reply shortly.
Vanguard had not heard from him at press time.