Background: On Thursday in Akure, the Ondo state capital, the Osun state Commissioner for Regional Integration, Bola Ilori, was molested and beaten by suspected thugs at the venue of the meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Committee on true federalism and restructuring. Ilori, who serves as commissioner in Osun, although he is a native of Ondo, had just finished delivering the Osun government position when he was attacked.
Who did it?: Ilori was very certain that the attack was spearheaded by the Ondo state Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Hon Ifedayo Abegunde. According to Ilori the attack was due to two reasons.
- First, Ilori was campaign director-general for Olusola Oke, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) governorship candidate in the last governorship election in Ondo. It was widely believed that in that role, Ilori was just a proxy for the Osun governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who did not accept Rotimi Akeredolu as the APC candidate in the Ondo polls and hence decided to sponsor Oke’s election. It appears that the Ondo governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his team have not forgiven that slight from Osun.
- Also, Ilori claimed that the Ondo government is “scared of me coming for the senatorial seat in the next election and they are not comfortable with my political popularity.”
Ondo denies: The Ondo government has denied the allegation, saying in a statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Yemi Olowolabi, that Ilori and the Osun state delegates came to the venue of the event, prepared to cause trouble.
Quote: “What happened is sad but it is avoidable. It is apparent the Osun delegates came prepared with thugs, charms, ammunition, cudgels to an event which was supposed to be an all APC event. It is clear that they are here to forment trouble and if there was any retaliation there would have been casualties. We kept our calm even in the face of unwarranted provocation,” said Olowolabi.
Aregbesola responds: Now, the governor of the state of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, has responded to the attack on his commissioner, in a statement issued by his media aide, Sola Fasure. He described it as an indirect attack on the people of Osun, who Ilori represented at the forum.
He also condemned the official statement from the Ondo commissioner of information. “The Osun delegates simply went armed with their intellect to marshal the position of the state. Why would a delegate go with dangerous objects to a conference on restructuring when Ondo and Osun are not at war or in confrontation over any issue?
“Ilori represented the government and people of Osun. Therefore, he deserved to be accorded the courtesy and respect due to the state. He deserved to be protected by the government of Ondo State as well as security agencies at the venue of the conference.
“All these safety measures were not put in place. Rather Hon. Ilori was exposed to attack by some top government official, who reportedly had axe to grind with Ilori over election matters in the state.
“The attack on Ilori is barbaric and reprehensible, to say the least. It is no doubt an attack on the entire people and Government of Osun State, whom Ilori represented at the meeting. We condemn in strong terms this affront on the people and Government of Osun State, which the attack on our delegate signposted.”