On Monday September 9th, I began the Obirinkete Tour, for the purposes of advocacy, community engagement and empowerment in all the sixteen local governments of Ekiti State.
The first two visits on Monday went according to plan -hugely successful and peaceful. On Tuesday September 10th we were billed to visit three local governments – Moba, Ilejemeje and Oye.
The first two stops were just like the ones before – peaceful with no incident. While we were at Ilejemeje, we received a call from our advance security team that students of the Federal University of Oye (FUOYE) were protesting a lack of electricity in Oye town.
We were told that more information would be provided on the situation. Shortly after we received word that the students had dispersed and the coast was clear for my visit. When my convoy got to the Oye-Isan junction, we were met by a group of excited Okada riders who led us into Oye town.
We made a stop at the primary healthcare center along the road for me to present delivery kits to pregnant women. There was no sign of any trouble. We proceeded to the venue of my town hall meeting at the civic center with women in Oye Local Government.
The atmosphere was very peaceful, the women were singing and dancing and there was nothing to indicate that anything was amiss. I stopped at the tent erected for the mobile health clinic in front of the civic center to greet the elderly patients who were being attended to, and I also went to greet the beneficiaries of the Food Bank for the elderly project (Ounje Arugbo), who were assembled under another tent. I then proceeded into the hall for the program. Half-way through our event, there was a disturbance outside.
The FUOYE students (and possibly infiltrated by local thugs) had re-grouped and were trying to get into the venue. The security officers prevented this from happening.
The fumes from teargas used outside the hall wafted in, causing a lot of discomfort, particularly to the elderly people who were there. We finished the program, and by the time we got outside, we found that vehicles from my convoy and those of my guests that were parked outside the venue had been vandalised.
I was not aware that the situation outside was so bad. A number of the women who were with me were wandering around, looking for their drivers/vehicles.
I advised them to jump into any available vehicle. As we were driving out of Oye town, we encountered at least two road blocks that the students had mounted to prevent the movement of vehicles.
I could see students/thugs throwing stones and large sticks at us as we drove by. Reports indicate that the face-off with the students and police continued after we left, with tragic results.
The casualties that were recorded did not take place while I was there, there are eye-witnesses, photographs and video footage to confirm this. There are reports circulating that the crisis occurred because I refused to address the protesting students. This is totally false.
I did not encounter any group of students when I got to Oye town. They had dispersed before my arrival, and when they regrouped I was inside the venue. It is possible, as I stated earlier, that the group that came to the venue trying to gain access with sticks and stones in hand might have included local hoodlums, but there was no way of telling the difference.
I am scandalized and shocked beyond words to hear that I instructed security officers to shoot at students. I could not believe that it is possible for anyone to think or say that I would do such a terrible thing. On Tuesday morning, as I was driving past my office in Ado-Ekiti, a group of women were gathered there to protest.
They are members of a Female Sweepers Association, who were protesting a cut in their monthly salary by the previous administration. They wanted me to help them. They were polite and pleasant. I listened to the