January 10, 2009 is a day that Wale Adedayo, the former Chief Press Secretary to Otunba Gbenga Daniel will not forget in a hurry, if he ever forgets. He had a close shave with death. The close encounter has been narrated in his book “Microseconds Away From Death”. He was at the venue of the sitting of the Ogun State Truth Commission to honour an invitation to shed more light on his book and apparently to explain how he was able to turn the tide against his assailants.
Though the sitting hearing was adjourned as D.O Omojoye who had filed the petition that led to Adedato’s invitation was absent, the former CPS fondly referred to as Babalawo read his prepared statement to journalists outside the hall. He outlined how the Government strikes opponents and also shed some light on some of the violent acts that rocked the Ogun political terrain. Below are excerpts from the speech which he titled “Understanding Political Violence In Ogun State”:
Ours is a young democracy, where might is right, Big Men reign supreme and impunity by the ‘connected’ is the way of life instead of the due process of the law. Corruption is a way of life with those outside its influence being dubbed lunatics or frustrated persons. This, corruption, has made a mess of the lives of key institutions of democracy weakening these important pillars to such an extent that the polity is only a shade different from what obtained under a military dispensation.
Ordinarily, violence should not be the language of choice in any democracy, no matter how young. But where certain persons know for a fact that they can get away with any malfeasance, violence remains the choice weapon of persuasion for political leaders who either cannot tolerate dissent or do not have the right facts to persuade the electorate to follow their side of the political divide. It is almost standard practice in most young democracies all over the world, including Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
I am aware that the Ogun State Truth Commission wants to uncover the identities of persons or groups behind the series of orchestrated violence that took place in this state between 2003 and 29, May 2011 and recommend appropriate sanctions. Personally, but with due respect, I do not believe you can achieve this. Secondly, the summons you sent to me has to do specifically with the events mentioned in my book, “Micro-seconds away from death,” which is my own contribution to documenting what happened to me on the night of Saturday, 10 January 2009 in Ilishan, Remo, Ogun State. For the records, I acknowledge the quality professional roles played by some officers of the State Security Service (SSS) and their counterparts in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) a few months before the incident happened, and shortly after the attack, in particular the support offered in my ‘private investigation’ to uncover the identities of the three gunmen I killed that night in Ilishan. Mr. Adedoyin Adetuberu (SSS) is a pride to his service. Same goes for the Public Relations Officer of the Ogun State Police Command, Prince Muyiwa Adejobi, along with his former colleague in Oyo State, Ms Bisi Okuwobi. Mr. Adedoyin Agoro of the National Association of Sealords (Bucaneers), who led the few other Rainbow Coalition guys deserve a mention too.
Again, and for the avoidance of doubt, I have affirmed my lack of faith in this Commission concerning its assignment in regard to political violence in this state between 2003 and 2011.
Before advancing my reasons for saying so, two types of political violence are easily identifiable to me:
1. The violence unleashed on opposition supporters/principals by a particular political party in the course of electioneering campaign by elements engaged for that purpose in a polity where impunity reigns. This is generally acceptable in Nigeria, although a number of public affairs commentators often bury their heads in the sand, like an Ostrich, as they kick against it in a party they do not like while keeping quiet about the same criminal activity in another political party where they have interest. The fact is that the law enforcement agents hardly prosecute cases involving political violence in Nigeria. This is more so when the culprits are supporters of a ruling party. An opposition party going out to campaign will have itself to blame if it does not prepare adequately to counter the forces of the other side during a campaign or other such outside engagements that have to do with politics.
For instance, boys in the entourage of Alliance for Democracy (AD) gubernatorial candidate and Africa Today’s magazine Publisher, Mr. Kayode Soyinka, killed a young resident of Ogere, Ikenne Local Government, Mr. Segun Adekoya, towards the 2007 elections; a supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ilugun area of Abeokuta North Local Government, Mr. Muyideen Oke, was killed by boys belonging to Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP); five supporters of Amosun’s ANPP were also butchered by boys belonging to the PDP in the Car Wash area of Adatan, Abeokuta towards the 2007 elections. If you ask the man who regularly administered ritual oaths to those who the former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, wants to get to his side, Apena Akeem in Ososa, Odogbolu Local Government, he’ll tell you that elements in the employ of Amosun’s ANPP ransacked his house and surrounding buildings towards the 2007 elections. As Director of Organisation, PDP Ogun State, at the time, it took me about 30 minutes instead of the normal two minutes rapid response time before we could get our boys from Ijebu Ode to counter the attack because of the scale of attack by the rampaging ANPP boys. Unfortunately, the ANPP boys were already in Omu, where they vandalized the campaign secretariat of Hon. Remmy Hassan before our boys chased them back towards the Shagamu/Benin Expressway. Of course, being the party in power with loads of patronage at its disposal, the PDP almost always had the upper hand in many of these encounters.
2. The second category of political violence is way off the first one. Those engaged in this kind of violence are hardly seen in action during the first one. They are a special breed with a number of them sometimes belonging to the country’s security services. These elements, where needed, are necessary for pre-emptive strike or revenge against real and perceived political enemies – and, this too, is not limited to Ogun State or a particular political party. But unless you see them in action, or one is privileged to be an associate of those involved, it is hardly possible to identify these actors or the political party/individual they work for.
The near assassination of Iyalode Alaba Lawson in her Abeokuta home was no doubt an assignment by boys loyal to Daniel. Despite the tales by moonlight associated with the assassination of Engr. Funso Williams, from the little work we did along with the former Ogun State governor, it was clear as the noon day sun that elements sent by persons outside the Lagos State PDP were responsible for it. You can also situate the murder of Age Omo Lemomu in Shagamu and that of a member of the National Association of Sealords (Bucaneers) called Bukky Boy in Abeokuta along the same pattern. So also were the near-assassinations of Hon. Wale Alausa and Hon. Tokunbo Oshin in Ijebu Ode, but which fate did not allow to happen.
But another unknown aspect in this category is that government often contracts out jobs to these persons ‘in the larger public interest.’ A person could be chalked down under the table if those at the highest level of government feel his/her continued life could constitute a greater danger to general public good. We had a situation like that during the first term of Daniel. It was a very difficult decision, but it was taken and carried out nevertheless as it also involved a move to pacify the police.
Thus far, God, through my ancestors and other beings have kept me alive along with members of my family. Although one is prepared for death at any moment, but I am not a suicidal person. Whether in camera or publicly here, I will not disclose the identities of those I know besides what I’ve already given to the police through the Force CID, Abuja in March/April 2009. I plead with you, if you have to access my statements, kindly make it a close door thing. You’ll find some names, phone numbers and details that can assist you to some extent. My level of involvement was such that apart from Daniel, others are out there who you cannot protect me from. My firm word to them is that beyond information such as what I have given thus far, in my book and also to the police, I will not squeal on them. That’s for sure. And it is probably because of this that a sizable number of them still treat me as a distant friend. I have been able to establish, through my book, that if Daniel could do what he did to me, no matter how loyal they are, they could also end up the same way.
My advice is that, if allowed, you should start from the State Security Service (SSS) in Abeokuta here even before you contemplate going to the police. You will get more than whatever I can ever be able to give you. There was NOTHING that took place here, including details of the personalities involved, that the SSS does not have. From the SSS, you can now ask the police for assistance, especially the state CID at Eleweran. They will no doubt have plenty of answers for you. Without the full cooperation of the SSS and Police, I firmly believe you cannot achieve your goals. Since virtually all decisions about our law enforcement agencies have to be taken at a political level, it is clear where the work of this Commission is headed. I promised the Secretary of the Commission I’ll come and do what I just did. And having fulfilled my promise, I wish you well.