Violence broke out at the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress in Akure, the Ondo State capital when the members of two leadership factions clashed in the bid to take over the secretariat on Wednesday.
Aggrieved party members stormed the state secretariat of the opposition party located along the Oyemekun Road, where they engaged in a free-for-all.
The fight was between the members of the party loyal to the embattled state chairman, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, and the loyalists of another factional leader, Mr. Saka Yusuff, who was newly installed as the interim state chairman of the party.
Yusuff was installed on Tuesday by some aggrieved members of the party, who were also supporters of some governorship aspirants of the party.
The aggrieved members announced the removal of Kekemeke as the chairman of the party over an allegation that Kekemeke was involved in anti-party activities with his purported endorsement of one of the governorship aspirants, Dr. Segun Abraham.
The National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had been accused by one of the governorship aspirants, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, who said the national leader was canvassing support for Abraham.
After the purported removal of Kekemeke on Tuesday, the aggrieved members announced Yusuff as the interim state chairman of the party and they subsequently occupied the secretariat after driving out Kekemeke’s loyalists and the staff of the secretariat.
However, Kekemeke’s faction launched a counter-attack on Wednesday, forcefully ousting Yusuff’s supporters from the secretariat.
Members of the Kekemeke faction rained stones on the secretariat before moving in with weapons to dislodge the members of the Yusuff’s faction.
The Ondo State Police Command had to deploy riot policemen in the secretariat before law and order was restored.
The state secretary of the party, Rahman Rotimi, was ushered in by the members of the Kekemeke faction even as other employees of the party who had earlier fled were allowed back into their offices.
Speaking with journalists after entering the secretariat, Rotimi condemned the action of the aggrieved members who locked the secretariat, saying the secretariat was the symbol of the party and should not be locked by anybody.
He called for calm among party members, adding that the APC in Ondo State was one big family that would resolve its dispute amicably.
However, Yusuff alleged that Kekemeke brought thugs to the secretariat to fight with his members but that his supporters left the secretariat in order not to cause chaos on the premises.
He said, “We are members of the same family, hence, we decided to leave the secretariat for them because we did not want to take the law into our hands. All we know is that Kekemeke is no more the chairman of the APC in Ondo State.”
Yusuff said he had written petitions to the national secretariat of the party and security agencies in the state on the matter.
The Public Relations Officer of the state police command, Mr. Femi Joseph, said officers and men of the command were drafted to the secretariat to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
According to him, “Our men will always ensure that the forthcoming primary and governorship election are violence-free and there will not be any pre-election violence.”