The killing of a police woman, Sergeant Olawoye Bukola, alongside two others, during the now suspended House of Assembly bye-election for Ekiti East Constituency 1, Omuo Ekiti, on Saturday, March 20, 2021, has raised fresh concerns about the sanctity of life when political calculations come into focus in whatever election.
The development has also occasioned brickbats between the two major parties in the state. Sulaiman Olaide in the following piece examines the issues
Accusing fingers and condemnations have, as expected, trailed the killing of a police woman, Sergeant Olawoye Bukola, alongside two others, during the House of Assembly bye-election for Ekiti East Constituency 1, Omuo Ekiti, on Saturday, March 20, 2021.
For Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, it’s nothing but a tight spot because of the discovery that those who perpetrated the evil are his party members. In the last few days, questions that are being raised centred around whether Fayemi will allow the rule of law to prevail in the trial of the suspects or protect his party men.
Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in the aftermath of the killings, has suspended the election, the two major parties in the state, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), have exchanged diatribes and pointed accusing fingers at each the other concerning the killings.
While the courts have not made any definitive statement regarding the party of affiliation of a few individuals so far arrested, most comments have centred round the APC, given the array of persons so far arrested in the wake of the development.
Currently issues are being examined afresh by critical stakeholders, including the electorate regarding why a bye election to fill a state assembly seat, could call for shootings and killings.
The seat became vacant following the death in February of an All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker representing the constituency in the state House of Assembly, Juwa Adegbuyi.
While the election held in just five wards, the killings centred entirely at Unit 7, ward 7, the very polling unit of Biodun Olujimi, the senator representing Ekiti South. The senator, as reported, came within whiskers of death, as she just voted and only escaped being hit by the bullets.
Three remanded for the killings
So far, a Chief Magistrates’ Court in Ado-Ekiti had arraigned three suspects arrested in relation to the killings. They included Adenijo Olusola, 38, popularly called Solar; Paul Folorunso, 45; and Adebayo Serifat, 40, a female.
The three, facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, murder and attempted murder, were ordered by the court to be remanded at the Federal Correctional Centre in Ado-Ekiti.
They were accused of committing an offence of murder of Police Sergeant, Bukola Olawoye, as well as Babatunde Adeleye and Bola Adebisi.
The defendants were also alleged to have attempted to murder a woman Police Sergeant, Akanle Oluwadare; Tosin Adeniyi; and Omolola Emmanuel.
The offences are punishable under Sections 516, 319 (1) and 320 of the Criminal Code Cap C16, Laws of Ekiti State, 2012.
Wave of early condemnations…
The state governor, Kayode Fayemi, in condemning the incident, said "We may not be able to bring back the dead but every perpetrator will be dealt with to serve as a deterrent to others."
According to him, there should be no wasting time in prosecuting those responsible for the killings.
Fayemi, who spoke while on a sympathy visit to Omuo Ekiti and the private home of Abiodun Olujimi, a PDP Senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial district, explained those arrested would be arraigned not later than Monday for murder.
At the closed-door meeting with Olujimi, the governor said the issue at hand was not a political issue, promising that anyone arrested in connection with the attack would be treated as a common criminal, no matter which political party such a person belonged to.
Fayemi spoke: “After I spoke with Senator Olujimi on Saturday, I called the Commissioner of Police (CP) and instructed him to do everything possible to arrest the perpetrators and I’m happy to inform you that as I arrived the state (today, Sunday), the CP said all the culprits had been arrested and on Monday, they shall be charged for murder.
He also visited the palace of the Olomuo of Omuo Ekiti, Noah Omonigbehin, as well as survivors on their hospital beds, wishing them quick recovery.
Thanking the traditional ruler for maintaining peace in the community by not allowing residents to take laws into their hands in reaction to the wanton killings, Fayemi assured the traditional ruler that the perpetrators would be made to face the full weight of the law.
Responding, Oba Omonigbehin thanked the governor for the condolence visit, pleading that those responsible for the attack be brought to book.
Disclosing the death of the police officer, Fayemi had said in a tweet: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the demise of Sergeant Olawoye Bukola, the police officer who was shot during the election violence that followed the Ekiti East Constituency 1 Bye-Election on Saturday," Fayemi says.
"The brave officer battled for her life since Saturday. We hoped and prayed that she would make it, but she sadly passed away Monday evening.
"Late Sgt. Olawoye was a courageous and worthy police officer who excelled in a traditionally male-dominated career. Sadly, she lost her life in active service.
"My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time. We stand by them. My condolences also go to the Nigeria Police Force on this tragic development," the governor adds.
Governor Fayemi also discloses that the alleged perpetrators of the mayhem and killings are now facing trial.
"I have been briefed that the arrested suspects were charged to court on Monday. My administration is committed to ensuring justice.
"Despite our diverse party affiliations, we must work together to protect and defend the sanctity of the electoral process and secure lives and property during elections. This is a non-partisan imperative that we must achieve together. May her soul rest in peace," he said.
The APC, in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Sam Oluwalana, equally berated the perpetrators of the dastardly act, describing them as "unwarranted".
Oluwalana explained that irrespective of the party or personality involved, no life should be lost over any election, saying "It is unfortunate that a very peaceful and transparent election could have turned so bloody."
Said he: “The APC is law abiding, peaceful and as such has no reason to be violent. No election is worth the blood of any Ekiti son or daughter. We sincerely commiserate with the families of those who lost their loved ones to the incident, while also wishing the policewoman and other gunshot victims still on admission in the hospital quick recovery.”
The Young Progressives Party (YPP) was not left out in the run of condemners of the act, commending the INEC for suspending the election.
It also appealed to the commission not to allow itself to be used by any party to upturn the poll whenever it is rescheduled.
The party said: “We sympathise with the families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate incident and pray God to grant them eternal rest as well as the fortitude for the families to bear the irreparable loss,” said a statement by the party.
PDP accuses/berates APC
Meanwhile, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State has warned the state government not to engage in any form of political interference in the ongoing trial of those arrested over the killings.
The party while commending the police for prompt arrest of the suspects promised to work with all concerned authorities to ensure diligence prosecution in order to get justice for the victims of the vicious attack.
The State working committee of the party gave this warning, after its monthly sitting at the party Secretariat in Ado Ekiti on Monday.
"We are happy that the police have apprehended some suspects in connection, with the murderous attack and we are ready to work with the authority to ensure they don't go unpunished. Ekiti people know the Party that sent them and will not tolerate any form of political interference during the prosecution of the suspects."
The opposition party in Ekiti State also accused the ruling All Progressive Congress, (APC) government as the brain behind the attack .
The PDP State Publicity Secretary, Raphael Adeyanju, in a statement made available to Newsmen in Ado Ekiti, capital of the state, said " it will not be appropriate for an APC government to handle the prosecution of the case, while all the suspects are well known thugs who were in the company of prominent APC leaders and government functionaries in Omuo Ekiti on the fateful Saturday."
The PDP spokesman added that the ruling party resorted to violence because it never expected that the PDP would come to the election with a unity of purpose, where all contending tendencies came together to face their common enemy.
Adeyanju said: "We commend our leaders, former governor of Ekiti State , Ayodele Fayose and Senator Abiodun Olujinmi for complimenting the efforts of the Senator Bukola Saraki led National Reconciliation Committee towards the unity of our great party .We can all see the results of their efforts. What happened on Saturday is a signal to what to expect in subsequent elections.
"The APC is populated by violent individuals that don't believe in free and fair elections. Our party members are however, enjoined to remain resolute so that we can wrestle power from them. They can no longer impose themselves on the people that have totally rejected them."
The PDP leadership also commended their members for peaceful and law abiding conduct, even in the face of provocation.
"The APC has always tested the patience of Ekiti People . It is on record that between October 16, 2010 and October 16, 2014 when they were in government, nine people were killed by political thugs.
"Those killed were Chief Adeleye Awolumate (November 15, 2010),
Kehinde Fajuyi and Michael Ipinlaye (March 23, 2011), Yusuf Teslim Abiola (October 09, 2012), Ayo Murphy Jeje and Madam Julianah Adewumi (March 31, 2013), Foluso Ogundare (November 03, 2013), Akinola Taiwo - (June 09, 2014) and Chief Omolafe Aderiye (September 25, 2014).
"Now that they are in government, Ekiti is witnessing the same state sponsored killings and attack just as it was during the first tenure. During the 2017 local government elections that APC contested against itself, a man was killed in Ikere Ekiti "
Assuring Ekiti people of a light after the present darkness represented by the APC government , the PDP chieftains urged them to reject the killer party In 2022 .
" We all know that the PDP is the only party that can protect our collective interest , guarantee peace and security.
We can recall that under the last regime of Governor Ayodele Fayose, no single life was lost. Even in 2018 , when the election was rigged in favor of the APC , no one was hurt "
Fayose also accuses APC…
But former Governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose, was more frontal and vociferous in his accusations, insisting the killings were politically motivated and that APC was the sole Mastermind.
In a tweet, Fayose acknowledged the occurrence was barbaric and shameful, insisting the killings were nothing short of terrorism against the people of Ekiti state.
According to the former governor the development was a clear evidence that it is a State sponsored terrorism from the ruling party (APC) All Progressive Congress against the citizens.
He consequently urged the Nigeria Police Force to discharge their duties as just and appropriate without favoritism, to ensure justice was delivered.