Ward Congress: Aregbesola, Oyetola loyalists fight at Osun APC Secretariat

Mayhem broke out on Saturday at the secretariat of the All Progressives Congress in Osun State as supporters of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, and members of former governor Rauf Aregbesola-backed group, The Osun Progressives, engaged in a fight.

The two groups clashed on the premises of the party’s state secretariat, while awaiting members of Appeal Committee hearing petitions arising from the last Ward Congress of the party.

A large number of the Aregbesola-backed group had stormed the party secretariat as early as 9am to submit more petitions to the panel.

But at 10.40am while waiting for the panel’s arrival, some supporters of Oyetola and Aregbesoola, engaged in physical combat as security men stationed at the entrance to the premises looked on.

The vehicle conveying members of the committee, accompanied by the state Commissioner of Police, Wale Olokode, later arrived the premises around 11am.

Olokode, who spoke first, told the crowd that the police would ensure their safety but urged them to be orderly.

Speaking in similar vein, the Chairman of the Ward Congress Appeal Committee, Ambassador Obed Wadzani, promised that the panel would be fair to all and attend to all petitions brought by members.

He said, “We are members of the APC Ward Congresses Appeals Committee. We are also members of the APC. We have come from the national headquarters, Abuja to specifically come and look at the appeals and petitions from members of the APC in Osun State. We have come to assure you that we are all members of the same family. We are here to assure you that we will be fair, just and we will look at the petitions that you bring to us with all the sense of responsibility that is expected of the national level.”

The panel proceeded with the exercise in peace until around 4.20pm, when fresh pandemonium broke out, after some hoodlums invaded the secretariat, wielding sticks and firing gunshots.

Many people were feared injured as people caught in the melee ran in different directions to escape being hit while some vehicles parked in front of the secretariat were also hit and damaged during the attack.

Several gunshots were fired into the air as the police battled to put the situation under check.

Members of the committee were later seen being escorted out of the party secretariat by armed police operatives and some vehicles of Joint Task Force.

The chairman of the Appeal Committee, Ambassador Obed Wadzani, could not be reached on his mobile line for comment and reply to the text message sent to him was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

But Lani Baderinwa, Secretary of The Osun Progressives, a group backed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, whose members had thronged the party secretariat to submit their petitions, said several members of the group were injured in the attack.

He said, “We don’t have the figure yet but many people, mostly members of TOP, were injured. I was on the premises when the thugs launched an attack on our members.”

Speaking with our correspondent after the incident, the secretary of the Osun APC State Congress Committee, Sunday Akere, said the panel had to move its sittings away from the secretariat to avoid bloodshed.

He added that before the sitting was disrupted, the panel had already treated petitions from nine local government areas.

Akere said, “Even with this situation, we hope that the panel will resume sitting soonest and summon the respondents to defend the petitions attended to so far.”

Oyetola condemns attack, preaches peace

In a statement by his press secretary, Ismail Omipidan, Oyetola, the Osun governor, Oyetola, condemned the attacked, and urged party members to give peace a chance and allow the ongoing appeal process run its full course.

The governor directed security operatives to take charge of the party secretariat to prevent any further break down of law and order.

“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,” the governor said.

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