Scores Injured as Transport Workers Clash in Ekiti
Transport Workers Clash – Scores of people have been wounded and several properties vandalised in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state Capital, South-west Nigeria as rival Transport workers union members clashed in the state capital on Sunday.
It was indeed a bloody Sunday in the Ekiti State capital; eleven people sustained severe injuries while houses, shops and other property belonging to various factions of the local chapter of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) were burnt as the transport workers clash intensified on Sunday
The injured victims sustained deep cuts on their necks, head as well as other parts of their bodies as dangerous weapons including broken bottles were freely used by the warring parties.
Local sources have identified the victims of the transport Workers Clash as supporters of the RTEAN Southwest Zonal Chairman, Chief Isaac Fatimehin aka Ayinrin and Ekiti RTEAN chairmanship aspirant, Mr. Adebayo Aderiye aka Ojuigo.
News reports state that the Ekiti state chapter of RTEAN had been hit with a leadership crisis as part of the fall out of the recent Governorship election held in the state.
The South-west zonal chairman of the union, Mr. Fatimehin had accused the former chairman of RTEAN, Chief Rotimi Olanbiwonnu aka Mentilo of being responsible for the carnage against his supporters as well as the destruction and vandalism of his shopping complex.
Issuing a statement on the recent attacks against his supporters, the zonal chairman said;
“We have been having violent attack on our people since the day before yesterday. These attacks are led by a former state chairman of RETAN in Ekiti, Rotimi Joseph Olanbiwonninu, popular as Mentilo, who has been bringing thugs armed with guns and cutlasses and other dangerous weapons to attack our people.
As I speak with you, eleven of our people are in the hospital now. They have sustained deep machete cuts on their heads and parts of their bodies.
Mentilo is not happy that the national body of our union, headed by Alhaji Musa Isewele, is considering Aderiye Adebayo, alias Ojuigo as the Acting Chairman for our union in Ekiti.
This is why he is bringing many thugs armed with dangerous weapons to attack our people in my house. We were at the national meeting in Abuja and I arrived on Thursday. Ojuigo and Mentilo had gone to Abuja before me.
The truth is that Rotimi Joseph Olanbiwonnu alias Mentilo had chaired the state RETAN for over nine and half years now and this was why the national body is considering Ojuigo who has not tasted the leadership of the body in the state before.”
He then continued further on his connection to the violence;
“On Saturday, when I was called on this matter by Sunday Adeola, a leader in our union who is supporting Mentilo, I explained to the him that I had explained to all parties that those who have chaired the state chapter of our union before should retire like me and allow others who haven’t been there to have their turn. I said we should retire and be others godfathers for others.
I explained again that the Mentilo caucus had not come to see me to seek my support on their ambition but Ojuigo had done so and he has got my support. I pleaded with him not to be violent in pursuing their ambition, saying that I wanted peace as the father of all parties and caucuses.”
Apparently the advice of the zonal chairman for older leaders to make way for new ones did not go down well with the former chairman. The zonal chairman then explained further on his reaction;
“He then advised that I have a meeting with the two parties of Mentilo and Ojuigo and I said that is okay, but that I would like to have a meeting with him first. He hung up on the line and said it was okay.
But it wasn’t up to 30 minutes when we have spoken on phone, when thugs armed to the teeth with guns and dangerous weapons came to my shopping complex along Adebayo Road in Ado Ekiti, and unleashed terror on everyone they met in the complex.
They matchetted all our members loyal to Ojuigo who were in my custody. But they didn’t touch me. They vandalized the shops and broke doors and windows of the shopping complex and my house behind the complex.”
Mr. Fatimehin then went ahead to accuse the police of not taking steps to curb the violence despite the fact that the attack on his members had been reported, he was referred from one police outpost to the other while the transport workers clash raged on;
“We went to report the case to the police station at the Oke Ila but were referred to the state command where our men were again referred to the Oke Isa police station where the hospital treated some of our wounded members.
The police in Ekiti have not taken concrete step in this matter as they seem to have allowed Mentilo to continue to unleash terror on our people.”
Another member of the Union, Isewele however told local newsmen when he was contacted on the issue that Olanbiwonnu had ceased to be a member of RTEAN; he added that a state caretaker committee led by a certain Mr. Lekan Amusan, had been set up to oversee the affairs of the troubled union.
“We have also set up a Caretaker Committee which offered to settle the matter between the parties but both the two warring parties, Ojuigo and Mentilo failed to reach a peaceful pact. So we asked the Committee to continue leading the union.” He said.
The man in the eye of the storm however vehemently denied his involvement in the transport workers clash reiterating that he had been trying his utmost best to resolve the crisis rocking the union in Ekiti state in his capacity as ‘caretaker chairman’.
Accordingly Olanbiwonnu said;
“It is all lies, I don’t have any hand in their crisis and I have been trying to intervene to bring an amicable solution to the crisis.
I have been in the office since I was appointed Caretaker by the state and Abuja leader since 16th of July 2018. I have official letter given to me from Abuja.
All I can say is that all these people that are struggling with me now, because they are too far away from the position they are struggling with me.
On the other insinuation that I am no longer the a member, it is a lie and they are jokers who don’t know what they are saying
Because throughout the time I was wrongly committed to prison, and I was their Southwest Zonal Chairman and one of the National Vice Presidents of the Union until June this year when they dissolved the house, so they don’t know what they are saying.”
Spokesperson for the Ekiti Police command however said he had not been briefed about the recent transport workers clash in the state.