BY: SAYO AKINTOLA
The escalation of the crisis in Ekiti State in the last one week has been blamed on the Governor-elect of the State, Ayo Fayose who allegedly attacked two state courts within a week with thugs while the police and other security agencies opted to look the other side, the State Governor, Kayode Fayemi made the assertion in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital on Friday.
Fayemi, accused Fayose, police and other security agencies of fuelling crisis in the state after political thugs descended on two state courts in a week attacking staff and judges.
The government ordered the closure of all courts Thursday, following a second attack. A curfew was imposed by the governor on Friday.
In a state-wide broadcast, Mr. Fayemi pointedly accused Mr. Fayose of hiring the thugs who broke into the courts and unleashed violence on judges and judicial officers in Ado Ekiti.
“I am advised incontrovertibly that thugs acting on the command of Mr. Ayo Fayose, who was also present to lend his clout to the travesty, brazenly assaulted a senior judge and urged his thugs to beat him up and tear his clothes,” said Mr. Fayemi.
He said the brigands, whose action exceeded the limits of acceptable behaviour, carried out their scandalous attacks in the “full glare of law enforcement agents”.
Mr. Fayemi said when the crisis started; he was in touch with the heads of security agencies in the state and at the federal level, urging them to act fast and decisively to preserve public law and order.
Unfortunately, he said, the response of the security agencies was slow and inadequate, thereby leading to the escalation of violence in the state.
The governor said since an earlier assault on the court did not meet strong response from appropriate security agencies; the miscreants were emboldened to unleash terror during the sitting of the state Election Petition Tribunal.
He said, “Since the beginning of this development on Monday, which is unprecedented in the recent history of our state, I have been in touch with the heads of all security agencies at the state and Federal levels, urging them to act quickly and firmly in the interest of public law and order.
“It is worrisome that the slow and inadequate response has occasioned the avoidable escalation of violence in our dear state.
He urged all indigenes to work together to ensure that the state comes out stronger from the delicate situation.
“During periods of transition, vital partners in progress adopt a cautious posture, watching for the slightest portents of the possible discontinuity of the regime of peace and tranquility, amongst other factors that have made our state conducive for investors and development partners.
“We must not disrupt our very bright prospects for sustained development in our state. Considering the cases that have triggered the recent spate of violence are politically related, the political elite in our state from all disparate quarters must exercise caution.
“We must rescue our state from the precarious slippery slope that some have desperately pushed us to. We should not imperil the very people we seek to serve by resorting to violence and brigandage. One does not burn down his homestead to establish his claim of ownership or leadership,” the governor advised.
To forestall further attacks on the courts, Mr. Fayemi said he has directed the attorney general of the state to issue a legal advisory to the chief judge and all parties to existing cases in the high court and Election Tribunal to seek alternative venues for hearing such cases outside Ekiti State.
He said the state can no longer afford to witness the bizarre sight of beating up of judicial officers and wanton intimidation of lawyers and court personnel.
Since security operatives seemed to have brought the situation under control, Mr. Fayemi called on them not to relent in performing their constitutional role of protecting lives and property in the state.
Violence broke out in Ado Ekiti on Monday when thugs believed to be sympathetic to the PDP stormed a court and attacked the judge, O. Ogunyemi, who was hearing a case concerning the eligibility of Governor-elect, Ayodele Fayose, for the recent governorship election in the state.
The court sitting was disrupted; litigants were beaten while the judge was ferried to safety by police after he was threatened by the militants, the state chief judge explained on Thursday.
On Thursday, another set of political thugs backing Mr. Fayose descended on another court, attacking a judge and other staff.
The assailants attacked Justice John Adeyeye, beating him up and ripping his clothes for being allegedly rude to Mr. Fayose.
The pandemonium that ensued scuttled the Ekiti State Governorship Election petition Tribunal sitting billed for the day at the High court, Ado-Ekiti, as judicial workers abandoned their duty post and ran for safety, witnesses and the state judiciary authority said.
In response to the attacks, the state Chief Judge, A. Daramola, ordered all state courts to remain closed until adequate security measures are in place, according to a statement by Chief Registrar Obafemi Fasanmi.
By Thursday night, a former chairman of the Ekiti state chapter of the NURTW and a core loyalist of Mr. Fayose, Omolafe Aderiye, was reportedly killed.
Mr. Aderiye is believed to have led the thugs who assaulted the judges on Monday and Thursday.