Hoodlums suspected to be political thugs yesterday descended on Agbaji, the family home of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, in Ilorin, Kwara State. At the end of the invasion, which lasted several hours, about 15 people were left with various degrees of injury while about 70 vehicles were vandalised. But while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) blamed it on a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) loyal to the national leadership of the party for the mayhem, the latter has denied the allegation, saying on the contrary, its gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq, was the target of the attack and only escaped death narrowly. Saraki was forced to cut short his participation in the PDP campaign to Oyun Local Government Area of the state in order to attend to the development. The attack came a few days after Saraki had raised the alarm that he, members of his family and supporters had been targeted for attack by the APC with the connivance of the police. The police denied the claim; saying they had been fair to all parties in the state.
Narrating its side of the controversy, the PDP, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Tunde Ashaolu, said the Agbaji Ilorin family residence of the Saraki was the target as the rampaging APC thugs allegedly opened fire on residents of the area, wounding at least 11 people in the process. The party recalled that APC thugs had on Thursday unleashed violence on the people of Agbaji, Adewole and Pakata areas of Ilorin metropolis during which four of its members were also injured. Yesterday’s incident, according to residents of the area, started about 11.30a.m., when fully armed people stormed the area and shot sporadically into the air to scare people away. President of Agbaji Development Association, Alhaji Musa Olanrewaju Yusuf, who claimed that the rampaging thugs were led by two APC stalwarts, said 11 people, who sustained injuries from gunshots, were taken to the General Hospital, Ilorin and a private medical facility for treatment.
He said: “The APC thugs came about 11:30 a.m. and shot sporadically into the air. In fact, they were provided cover by the police. At least, 11 people received injuries from gunshots while about 50 cars, including that of Imam Aliagan, were destroyed. “The thugs also carted away four motorbikes and stole money and jewellery from shops deserted by their owners.”
It was also gathered that the attackers spread the violence to Ajikobi and Omoda areas of Ilorin metropolis. Commenting on the development, the state Director General of the PDP Campaign Council, Prof. Suleiman Abubakar, said the orgy of violence was being perpetrated by the APC leaders in the state to instil fear in the minds of the residents ahead of the general elections, having discovered that “Kwarans” had rejected them. He called on security agencies in the state to within 48 hours arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of both yesterday and Thursday violence in Ilorin.
The party noted that the Sunday incident had validated the alarm raised by the Senate President on threats to his life, and his family and supporters, “which the police made futile efforts to debunk”. But in his own version of the incident, Rafiu Ajakaiye, the spokesman for AbdulRahaman, said those responsible for the attack were actually PDP members who had cloned APC vests to perpetuate the mayhem.
He said: “We have information that PDP thugs, true to our predictions since December 2018, have now mass-produced vests and other APC logos with which they are going around Kwara State to destroy things and attack innocent citizens. This is an old tactic for which the PDP and its patrons are known.
“We recently alerted the people of Kwara to this evil tactic of the PDP. Armed with guns and other deadly weapons, they are wearing the same APC vests and filming themselves as they carried out this act of violence against Kwarans. An example was what they did today (Sunday 13 January) in Surulere area of Ilorin in the state capital.
“Kwara APC governorship candidate AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Sunday escaped death by the whiskers as suspected PDP thugs fired at a rally he was attending at Ode Alfa NDA area of the state capital. “AbdulRazaq, who had on Saturday begun a door-to-door mobilisation of voters in Ilorin, was quickly whisked away from the rally as thousands of party supporters also scampered for safety. Two persons were seriously injured by gunshots fired by the thugs at the rally and have since been taken to the hospital.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajayi Okasanmi, confirmed the incident but noted that the command would only be able to give a comprehensive report to the public today. Meanwhile, Saraki visited the Agbaji quarters later to assess the level of damage done to property by the thugs. He, however, urged his people to remain calm and should not be provoked into retaliation. Saraki assured his people that their protection and safety was in the hands of God.
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