The Kwara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said two of its members were shot dead by suspected Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) thugs during a senatorial campaign tour at Ojoku in Oyun Local Government Area.
Oyun is the home town of Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, who is also the PDP senatorial candidate for Kwara South in this Saturday’s National Assembly election.
The attackers were also said to have injured eight APC members and vandalised 20 vehicles belonging to APC Kwara South senatorial candidate, Lola Ashiru, during his campaign tour of Ojoku on Tuesday evening.
But the PDP claimed that the APC thugs first attacked its members where six persons sustained bullet wounds.
Addressing reporters in Ilorin, the state capital, APC Chairman Lola Ashiru said: “On Tuesday, February 19, the APC senatorial candidate for Kwara South, Lola Ashiru, took his electioneering campaign to Ojoku Ward. In line with tradition, he and his team paid a courtesy visit to the Olojoku of Ojoku in his palace.
“After the courtesy visit to the kabiyesi, the team came out of the palace to proceed to the venue of the rally. They had barely come out of the palace when they were ambushed by PDP thugs who, apparently, had been lurking around the palace. The attackers, who were armed with various weapons, started shooting at the APC members and supporters who accompanied our candidate to the palace.
“The policemen, who accompanied our candidate’s campaign train, tried to repel the attackers but they were massively overwhelmed. Ashiru was quickly taken away from the place and he remained in hiding for over two hours before police reinforcement came to rescue him.
“From all indications, this is a pre-meditated attack, and it is clear that the attackers came not just to disrupt the campaign but to assassinate our candidate. While we mourn our members who died and pray for the quick recovery for the injured, we thank God for saving the life of our candidate who, as I said, was the obvious target of the thugs.
“We were reliably informed that the attack was allegedly coordinated by the PDP candidate for the Kwara South Senatorial District, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, who hails from the same place (Ojoku) where our members and supporters were attacked.
“We are using this occasion to call on security agencies to immediately arrest all the perpetrators of the violence at Ojoku and bring them to justice. In particular, we demand the immediate arrest and prosecution of the alleged coordinator of the violence, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
“We are also reiterating our earlier call on the security agencies to immediately arrest all known thugs and other criminals across our state so that they will not disrupt Saturday’s elections and the subsequent ones. We need to rid Kwara of all thugs and hoodlums in order to encourage the good people of the state to come our in large numbers to exercise their franchise on Saturday, and also to provide a level playing field for all the parties.
“In the meantime, we appeal to all our members and supporters across the state to remain calm, in spite of the provocation from the desperate PDP. The best revenge against the PDP is for all our teeming members and supporters to punish the party at the polls on Saturday.”
The Lola Ashiru Campaign Organisation said the attack “on our campaign entourage ranks among the worst form of political terrorism in this part of the senatorial district”.
Its Director General, Femi Whyte, addressed reporters in Offa town, Offa Local Government Area.
Whyte identified one of the dead as Samson Adeosun, who he said died at the General Hospital in Offa.
He said: “Three persons reported to be missing have been found but not in stable condition, probably due to the psychological effect of the attack.
“The Olojoku of Ojoku expressed great shock and felt so bad that such a crazy action happened in his territory and that his subjects could lay siege to a prominent personality without regard to his stool and authority.
PDP State Chairman Kola Shittu condemned the attack on the party’s members.
He said suspected APC thugs on the campaign train of Ashiru shot eight PDP members during the attack.
The party chairman said the victims were receiving treatment at the Offa General Hospital and other private hospitals.
In a statement, Shittu condemned the violent attack on its members and asked security agencies to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and their sponsors.
Shittu described the attack as unfortunate, ill-conceived and barbaric, adding that it again revealed the violent disposition of the opposition.
He said: “This latest brazen attack on our members and supporters in Ojoku has yet again further showcased the violent disposition of the APC, which we have always alerted Kwarans and security agencies to…”
Also, the APC has petitioned security agencies over the gruesome attack on the party’s senatorial candidate for Kwara South, Lola Ashiru, by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the nation’s capital, by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC said the deadly attacks occurred in Ojoku town in Kwara South Senatorial District.
It said eight people were badly injured while two others were shot dead.
The statement added: “The palace of the Olojoku of Ojoku, HRH Oba Abdulganiy Adegboyega Afolabi, was not spared in the attacks: the royal father was also stoned, according to credible and verifiable independent accounts.
“We have reproduced below a transcript of a victim’s account of the attacks: ‘Ojoku has been turned into a killing field with many residents fleeing to neighbouring communities for their safety. Eight people were shot; two others died. The Army rescued us and we are at Offa General Hospital.
“‘Olojoku palace was terribly attacked, our kabiyesi was stoned. I can tell you that Ashiru and I escaped death by a whisker. It was a terrible experience. May Allah forgive the souls of the two who fell by their gunshots.
“‘Senator Rafiu Ibrahim was sighted running away from a hotel in the community moments after the attacks.
“‘I can confirm to you that he (Senator Ibrahim) masterminded this attack because I was there when Olojoku called him. His first statement was that it was APC fighting against APC. Olojoku cursed him in our presence and said he would never get to that position again.’
“The APC hereby calls on security agencies to fish out and arrest Senator Rafiu Ibrahim Adebayo, who we learnt has since gone into hiding. Such murderous crimes cannot be swept under the carpet in the name of politics. The senator and his accomplices must face the law for their heinous crimes…”