Details of a secret meeting between the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Sunday Adeyemo, otherwise known as Igboho, has emerged.
The meeting which happened in 2009 was to persuade the businessman and activist from unleashing mayhem with his thugs during the Ekiti rerun election of that year.
This much was revealed by Special Adviser to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu.
Igboho has been in the news lately over the eviction notice he served to herders in Ibarapa local government area of Oyo state.
In a piece on Monday, Ojudu said with his support, Tinubu persuaded Igboho not to interfere with the 2009 rerun election in Ekiti state.
The Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin had ordered a rerun in a number of polling units in the election between Segun Oni of PDP and Dr Kayode Fayemi of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. Oni had been declared winner of the gubernatorial contest in the main election and by the election petition tribunal that followed.
“Our party, ACN contested this hence the declaration of a rerun. The election which came three months after the Appeal Court judgement was like war. The PDP ruling at the Federal level did not want to lose Ekiti while the opposition ACN led and financed by Bola Ahmed Tinubu wanted to take Ekiti by all means,” Ojudu said.
“A few days to the election, we got an intelligence report that PDP big wigs had perfected a plan to unleash thugs recruited from across Yoruba land on Ekiti. The plan was to kill and maim as many as possible, snatch ballot boxes and win by any means possible.
“Tinubu summoned me to Lagos and said Femi, ‘I have conducted a scientific opinion poll. You people can win this election. The only snag however is they are deploying state security as well as thugs against you. State security men we can handle (and he did creatively handle them) but how do you handle thugs?’
“I then suggested we dissuade them by engagement and inducements. After all they are in the business only for the money and not for ideological reasons. We reached out to both Ade Basket in Akure and Fada Geri in Ondo. Both were dreaded in political circles. We had a series of meetings with them and were able to squeeze an agreement with them that they will not make themselves available to PDP for hire. I got them to even sign documents for me that they were going to stay off Ekiti elections.”
Ojudu said the biggest headache for them was Sunday Igboho who they learnt has been hired and paid by a Senator from Osun to come and cause mayhem in Ekiti.
“Tinubu instructed that we must get him at all cost. Six days to the election, we began our search for him. Eventually we met someone who had his number. I put a call through to him and he agreed to meet with me in Ibadan. We scheduled an appointment and had a meeting at a small hotel not far from Premier Hotel.
“Tinubu, I told him, has sent me to him that he will like to have a meeting with him. He said he will love to meet him as he has heard a lot of good things about him too. The problem he said is he is PDP and not ACN. I said, that is precisely the reason why he wanted to meet with him. He asked if I could keep this a secret, I said why not.
“Papa Adedibu, and our Osun Senator, he said, must not learn about his meeting Tinubu. I told him there is no way they will know except it leaks from his side. He agreed to a meeting on Thursday preceding the election. I reported back to Tinubu who then relocated from his base in Lagos to Sunview Hotel in Akure. Igboho drove down alone at about 10.00 pm. I and Tinubu had a dialogue with him.”
The former senator said Tinubu lectured Igboho on the beauty of democracy and unencumbered electoral process. He said by the time Tinubu finished with him, Igboho became sober and contrite.
Ojudu further said, “Tinubu then beckoned me to follow him to the bedroom of the suit he occupied in the hotel. ‘Femi this guy appears sincere. It does appear we have dissuaded him.’
‘Thank you Baba’ Igboho said with a smile across his face as soon as he received a ‘golden handshake’ for agreeing not to unleash mayhem in Ekiti as they had planned. He then said that he will be in Ekiti on the eve of the election but when it is 2.00 am I should put a call through to him. He will put his phone on speaker and I should tell him I am a police AIG and that the police has discovered his presence in Ekiti and will be raiding in 30 minutes time. With that call he will tell his minders he can no longer stay. He will pack his boys and their lethal weapons and leave town.
“Tinubu ordered food and drink for him. He touched neither. He however overtime became comfortable in our midst and regaled us with several anecdotes from his career as a political enforcer.
“A week before the election, we had reserved and paid for all the rooms in all the hotels in Ekiti. The money ran into several millions. Tinubu, as usual, paid for this. The strategy was to ensure no thug or any undesirable element had a place to stay in the state. Security men and INEC officials had to appeal to me, sometimes through Tinubu, to release some rooms to them to stay. With this we knew who was staying where. And we closely monitored them and their activities.
“Thus, when Igboho and his band of 50 thugs arrived Ado Ekiti that Friday we were able to monitor them till they were taken to be accommodated over night in government house due to lack of hotel accommodation in the state.”
Ojudu said, “Igboho has that occasional conscience you can appeal to. We should do everything possible to stave off this crisis and stop beating the drums of war before it reaches a crescendo.”