Several people sustained heavy injuries on Tuesday during a violent clash that occurred at the Ondo State Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Oyemekun Road in Akure.
Our correspondents that the clash broke out between aggrieved supporters of Segun Abraham and Rotimi Akeredolu during a political rally held at the State capital.
The brawl lasted for more than two hours as the supporters of the two party chieftains engaged in a free-for-all in which participants threw stones at one another, while others attacked opponents with dangerous weapons.
The emergence of Mr. Akeredolu as the governorship candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State has sparked protests among other aggrieved aspirants of the party.
Mr. Abraham, who is one of the aggrieved aspirants of the party and a preferred candidate of the party’s national financier, Bola Tinubu, has been challenging the candidature of Mr. Akeredolu as the flag-bearer of the party in Ondo State.
Our correspondent reported that both men are leading members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State.
The violent clash that started on Oyemekun Road spread to the popular Oba Adesida Road on the main street of the State capital and paralyzed vehicular movement and local small-scale businesses.
Some supporters who carried placards asked the leaders of the party to immediately restore the mandate of Mr. Segun Abraham, who polled a total of 635 votes during the primary election of the party.
“It is better for them to restore Abraham’s mandate because he is the authentic winner of the September 3rd primary election of the APC,” one of them said.
However, infuriated by the words of Mr. Abraham’s supporters, some thugs stormed the venue and disrupted the rally, attacking the visiting party faithfuls.
The thugs destroyed vehicles belonging to Mr. Abraham’s supporters and used machetes against many other loyalists who had converged for the street rally in the State capital.
A witness, Gbenga Oyedele, explained to our correspondent how the crisis started when supporters of Mr. Abraham stormed the streets of the APC secretariat in a procession to reject the candidature of Mr. Akeredolu.
Mr. Oyedele said the bereaved supporters chanted solidarity songs and hurled abuses at the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC.
“What they were specifically asking for was the rejection of Rotimi Akeredolu as governorship the candidate of the party,” Mr. Oyedele said.
He added that violence later broke out when one Enas Mohammed, who led the Abraham supporters, addressed journalists and sought a rerun of the September primary election that produced Mr. Akeredolu.
“Mr. Mohammed told the selected journalists that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC has been compromised and also asked for the immediate resignation of the party’s National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.
“But, just as he was about rounding-off his address with the press, some thugs branding dangerous weapons such as cutlasses and clubs stormed the scene and attack Mr. Abraham’s supporters.
“Even journalists and some unarmed security personnel guiding the supporters ran for their lives because the whole demonstration became rowdy as the thugs threw stones and heavy sticks,” Mr. Oyewole added.
It was further learnt that the incident led to the destruction of billboards and posters of both party men by their various supporters.
A SaharaReporters investigation revealed that the hoodlums were loyalists of Mr. Akeredolu, who were directly sponsored by Sunday Abegunde, an embattled former federal lawmaker in the State.
Mr. Abegunde, also known as “Abena,” is a well-known friend of Mr. Akeredolu, who has been sponsoring thugs to disrupt political meetings and gatherings of perceived enemies within and outside the party.
Security officers, mostly men of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security, and Civil Defence Corps, have already taken over the party’s secretariat on Oyemekun Road in Akure by mounting a security formation.
The APC Spokesman, Omo’ba Abayomi Adesanya, who reacted over the incident, confirmed to SaharaReporters that many of those supporters were sponsored to create unrest in the party.
Mr. Adesanya alleged that these supporters were hired and enticed with a token of N2000 to cause disaffection among party loyalists.