AKURE, the Ondo State capital, yesterday witnessed a bloody clash between supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and the runner-up in the party’s “disputed primary”, Segun Abraham.
The rival hoodlums, who brandished offensive weapons, fought in front of the APC Secretariat on Oyemekun Road, Akure, causing panic to passers-by and motorists.
Many supporters of the two APC stalwarts were injured in the melee, which led to temporary closure of the popular road.
Properties worth millions of naira were destroyed during the clash.
It took the intervention of soldiers and armed police officers, who shot sporadically into the air, before the warring supporters could be dispersed.
Trouble started when loyalists of Abraham from the 18 local governments met at the party’s secretariat and embarked on peaceful protest.
They were demanding the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for overruling the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC), which called for fresh shadow election.
The protesters urged Akeredolu to step down for Abraham, stressing that his election was fraudulent.
The Abraham’s supporters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, described the last governorship primary as a scam. They urged the APC leadership to redress the alleged anomaly.
But sources said people suspected to be Akeredolu’s loyalists attacked the protesters “while they rounding off the protest at the party’s secretariat”.
Weapons, including cutlasses, axes and charms, were used during the clash.
It was gathered that both Abraham and Akeredolu were later invited by the Commissioner of Police Mrs. Hilda Harrison.
Addressing his supporters at his residence in Akure after the parley with the police chief, Abraham said he would do everything within the law to reclaim his mandate, which, he said, was stolen.
He insisted that he won the last primary party, “having polled the highest number of lawful votes in the election”.
The aspirant added that the party’s leadership should declare him the governorship standard-bearer.
Abraham said over 10,000 of his supporters drawn from the 18 local
government areas mobilised themselves to defend their votes through the protest.
He insisted that the only thing that could bring peace back to the party was for his mandate to be restored.
The APC chieftain said he might be forced to take a legal action, if the party failed to restore his mandate.
Abraham said there was no need for his group to join the Alliance for Democracy (AD), where Chief Olusola Oke is the party’s governorship candidate.
He maintained that his mandate should be returned to him, stressing: “No retreat, no surrender”.