Without a doubt, past general elections in Oyo state has always posed problems for the country’s electoral process, as well as a pointer that the country is still eons away from getting that aspect of national life right. This lack of progress is not a function of lack of adequate human capital or resources, but a clear illustration of how political gladiators in the state want to get to political offices by all means.
Nearly all of Nigeria’s general elections since independence have been tainted with the brush strokes of violence in Oyo state.
In trying to understand why what is supposed to be the hallmark of democracy faces such repeated challenges, fingers have been pointed at various factors. These range from weak governance to the ineffectiveness of security forces, poverty and unemployment, abuse of power, political alienation, a climate of impunity, a ‘winner-takes-all’ political system, and the proliferation of small arms.
The violence comes in various forms, such as arson, assassinations, ballot box snatching, coercion, forceful disruption, kidnapping, hate speech-induced crises, shooting, thuggery, and so on.
Most of the victims were civilians but sometimes well know politicians also lost their lives.
In 2019, member of House of Representative representing Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency of Oyo State, Mr. Temitope Olatoye aka Sugar, was the highest-ranking political figure to be consumed by the bloody 2019 general elections. But since being mowed down at Lalupon, after a bullet was fired at his eyeball by his assailants, on Saturday March 9, during the governorship/state assembly polls, different accounts have emerged regarding the circumstances that led to his death.
This controversy pitched his family against the State Police Command. While the Police insists that Olatoye’s untimely death was not politically motivated, his immediate family countered saying their bread winner was killed because of his political leaning.
Olatoye was a regular face in the political circle and was one of the “hard guys” who operated in Abeokuta, Ogun State before relocating back to Ibadan.
The former member of Oyo State House of Assembly, who contested and won election into the House of Representatives, was a former member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) before parting ways with Governor Abiola Ajimobi, after he lost the primary to go to Senate.He thereafter, decamped to African Democratic Party (ADP) that instantly offered him the ticket for Senate, he eventually lost the election.
While the leader of the party in the state, former Governor Late Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala dropped his governorship ambition for the APC candidate, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, Olatoye thought otherwise and joined forces with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and worked for the party to emerge victorious.
According to the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Zone 11, Leye Oyebade, and Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Shina Olukolu, Olatoye’s death was in no way connected to the elections. Oyebade said, “We have got a suspect, but we can’t reveal all the details. I was at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan with the Oyo State Commissioner of Police on Saturday. The Chief Medical Director of the UCH was also with us.
“But the incident is not directly connected to the elections going by the venue of the incident and the information we have so far gathered of what happened prior to the incident,” the AIG said.On his part, the commissioner said he got information about the attack on the representative by unknown assailants from the Divisional Police Officer at Iyana Offa, while he was monitoring the elections.
But the elder brother of the deceased, Mr. Olajide Oluwashina Olatoye, better known as “Big Daddy,” cautioned the Police hierarchy against playing politics with his brother’s death.Narrating how the lawmaker was murdered, his elder brother, the older Olatoye, who claimed to be at the scene of the incident said the assailants, numbering over 50, ambushed him, riddled his car with bullets before he was eventually killed.
While thanking the police for been dutiful in trying to fish out his brother’s killers, he pleaded with the government to ensure that the killers are brought to book. He said: “I want to debunk the claims by the AIG and the state Commissioner of Police that the killing of Sugar has nothing to do with politics, that it was just a murder case. No, it is not true.
“With due respect, I think that statement has a political undertone. By the time they killed Sugar, was he in Oja’ba where he went to buy yam? Was he at Bodija where he went to buy beans? It was during the election and he was coming from where he went to perform his civic duties as a good citizen of the country, and as a National Assembly member.“So, his killing has much importance to politics. To us, it was a political murder. So, I am debunking the statement credited to the AIG, with due respect. The killing was obviously politically motivated.
“For some reasons, I know those who killed my junior brother but for security reason, I will not say anything here. I am using this medium to thank the Police that they have been trying with their investigation and trying to arrest the guys that did the job.“We are using this medium to say that, if they claim that the death has no political undertone, I am appealing to the APC-led government to stay clear of this case because the principal actors of those people that killed my brother did the same thing in 2007 to the Late Segun Oladimeji aka Segelu, because he had the political backing of the Late Baba Lamidi Adedibu. The assailants killed my brother in the same town where they killed Segelu, which is Lalupon and again this has happened.
Suspected political thugs on March 23 allegedly shot dead a 25-year-old man identified as Monsuru, in Kudeti area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The ugly incident happened while the former deputy governor of the state, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja was in the vicinity.An eyewitness said, “Monsuru, who just finished his secondary education at St Luke’s College in Molete, Ibadan, was killed by one of the thugs.
Many residents believe the thugs belong to a group called “One Million Boys.”
“Votes were being collated when the assailants came into Lako Compound, Kudeti, the same ward where Ambassador Arapaja voted and they started shooting sporadically killing Monsuru in the process.”It was gathered that trouble started when loyalists of one of the top five political parties in the state started removing the banners and posters of other parties in the vicinity and replacing them with those of their candidates.
Apart from Olatoye, fondly called Sugar, another distinguished son of Lagelu LGA that was murdered was Segun Oladimeji, fondly referred to as Segelu. At the time of his death, he too was serving in the House of Representatives, representing Akinyele/Lagelu Federal Constituency.
Oladimeji, who was killed on Friday, September 15, 2007, was shot in the leg at a local drinking joiint in Ejioku, which is about two kilometres from Lalupon, where Olatoye was shot. Oladimeji did not survive the gunshot. It has been rumoured that the person that shot Oladimeji dead is the same person that perhaps pulled the trigger that dispatched Olatoye to his early grave.
As many others, who has also been victims of electoral violence across the state as the 2023 general elections is less than 24 hours the question on ground is who is likely to be the next victim among the big guns in Oyo state?