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Ondo poll: Governor, deputy in face-off

T

he much rumoured feud between the Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and his deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, came to a head yesterday.

 

 

In what was a confirmation of the feud, Ajayi finally abandoned his boss and defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The deputy governor was elected in 2016 with Akeredolu on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC)

 

 

The latest move by Ajayi came a few hours after the State Police Commissioner, Bolaji Salami, prevented the deputy governor from leaving the government house on Saturday night, a move Akeredolu said he had no hand in.

 

 

Ajayi, who tendered his resignation letter to the Chairman of Apoi Ward 2, David Turo and the local government party chairman, Samuel Ajayi, in his hometown of Kiribo in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State was welcomed into the PDP fold shortly after denouncing his APC membership.

 

 

Ajayi is expected to formally obtain his membership card today at PDP State office in Akure with the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus and other PDP stalwarts expected to welcome him.

The deputy governor is poised to secure the PDP governorship ticket and confront his principal, Governor Akeredolu in the October election.

 

Shortly after his resignation, Ajayi dismissed the insinuation that he would resign from Akeredolu’s cabinet, insisting that he was elected by the people.

Agboola said: “My people that voted for me did not ask me to resign. So, I remain the deputy governor of this state. I was duly elected as a deputy governor.

 

“I want to thank you for the support. I have enjoyed tremendous support from the ward.

 

“I am here to officially announce to you that as from today, I seize to be a member of APC. I want to tender my resignation letter to you (LG Chairman and the ward Chairman). Ese-Odo local government will continue to witness peace and progress.

 

“The reason I am taking this action is known to all of you. I listen to the advice from all my supporters. It is a painful thing that I’m leaving the APC, but there is time for everything.

 

 

“We have the fundamental freedom to belong to any party or group. Everybody all over the world knows why I left the APC. Some hours ago, you all know what happened to me at the Government House, but I am a man of peace.”

He was later presented the membership card of PDP by the ward executive of the party.

 

Receiving the deputy governor, the PDP ward chairman in Apoi Ward 2, Mr. Festus Oboro, said the coming of Ajayi would further strengthen PDP in the state.

 

Meanwhile, the deputy governor’s defection to PDP appears to have heightened anxiety among party leaders, especially governorship aspirants vying for the party’s tickets ahead of the October 10 polls.

 

 

It was, however, gathered that most of the governorship aspirants, especially those who have obtained nomination form, refused to step down, insisting to go on with the primary election.

 

 

Tension had heightened in the state early yesterday following a drama that ensued between Ajayi and the Commissioner of Police, Salami, on the Government House grounds, Alagbaka, Akure.

 

The Police Commissioner, who was alleged to be acting on the orders of Akeredolu, led other security operatives to stop the deputy governor from exiting the Government House.

 

 

According to findings, the aides of Ajayi were accused of looting property in the Government House ahead of the planned defection.

 

The hold-up, which lasted over four hours, further worsened the crisis between Akeredolu and Ajayi.

 

 

Ajayi, who was flanked by two members of the House of Assembly, Festus Akingbaso and Rasheed Elegbeleye, fumed over the development, as he warned the police commissioner against being used to cause crisis in the state.

 

 

According to sources who were present at the scene of the incident, the security officers led by the Chief Security Officer (CSO) told the deputy governor that he could not move his vehicles out of the Government House because it was late.

 

 

One of the sources said: “The CP was alerted by the security at the gate as some of the deputy governor’s aides were taking away government items late in the night.

“The deputy governor himself arrived the scene and insisted that the vehicle carrying those items should be allowed to go, but the CP insisted they wait till Sunday morning. The deputy governor left the vehicle and went in another car.”

 

 

During the saga at the Government House gate, the deputy governor had expressed disappointment with the conduct of the Commissioner of Police and the men posted to the Government House.

He said the conduct of the police boss was unbecoming of a senior police officer.

Ajayi said: “I have tried all constitutional and acceptable means to prevent this crisis. You are being used by the governor to  

deprive me of my constitutional right. I am highly disappointed that a policeman of your calibre can be used like this.

 

 

“I personally paid for this vehicle. You should not have put yourself in this mess. Let me tell you, you cannot repeat what happened in this state in 1983, because Ondo State people will resist you and your emperor with everything.”

 

 

His words: “We are not saying you should not go out. Since you are defecting, even your letter was brought to me in my office this evening that you are doing it (decamping) on Monday.”

Reacting to the development, the Ondo State government stated that the time the deputy governor’s aides were trying to leave the Government House premises was not the stipulated period of taking inventory when moving in or out of government structures, hence the intervention of police operatives.

 

 

Speaking via a press statement issued yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Segun Ajiboye said: “It should be placed on record that it is a time-tested code in government’s business for officials to take inventory of offices and quarters before and after an official is moving in or out of offices or quarters.

 

 

“It becomes particularly worrisome and suspicious when aides of the deputy governor insisted on leaving the premises with items wrapped in unclear ownership as late as 11p.m.”

 

The Ondo State government urged the public to dismiss the report over the alleged barring of the deputy governor from leaving the Government House.

Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties and Strategy, Doyin Odebowale, in a statement, said what occurred on Saturday night was due to the movement of some unknown persons and vehicles within the Government House.

 

 

The governor’s aide also disclosed that it was Ajayi who called the Commissioner of Police, after engaging the security operatives attached to the Government House.

 

He said: “At no time did any security operative prevent the Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, from leaving the Government House as conveyed in the edited video.

 

 

“The chief security officer to the governor of Ondo State had called my attention to some strange human and vehicular movements around the Guest Chalet occupied by the Deputy Governor about 9:45p.m., almost three hours after the commencement of the curfew in the state, on 20th June, 2020.

 

 

“A convoy of about four vehicles approached the main gates to leave shortly afterwards. The security men present stopped them for identification purposes… None of these persons was an official of the government.”

 

 

Odebowale added: “The Deputy Governor had arrived from outside the premises. He was the one who called the CP to meet him at the Government House. He insisted that he would move out with all the vehicles. He had been joined by others from outside. He was not prevented from going out.

 

 

“The Deputy Governr drove out of the Government House at some minutes to 12a.m. leaving with other vehicles. The pilot van, which bore the Ondo State official number and some items, was not allowed to leave the premises. Nobody prevented him from leaving.”

 

 

Also, the Commissioner of Police said that the Ondo Police Command under his policing architecture will never police lawlessness in the state.

Salami said the video was an attempt to foment sentiment and misunderstanding in the state.

 

 

CP Salami said he only came to the scene when his officers and men at the Government House could not broker peace between the aides of the governor and that of the deputy governor over the number of cars the deputy governor would drive out at the time.

 

 

The police boss, who said he has never been a politician all through his life and would not want to be dragged into politics, affirmed that he is completely apolitical and, as a police officer, his job is to protect lives and property of citizens of Ondo State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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