Ekiti Election: Police Say Teargassing of Crowd, A Mistake, Assure It Won’t Happen Again
Apparently responding to the growing condemnation of its forceful dispersal of supporters of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that gathered in front of Government House, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State for an address by the state Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, on Wednesday, the police Thursday said the action was a mistake that would not be allowed to happen again.
“I want to assure the good people of Ekiti State that such mistake will never repeat itself,” Habilal Joshak, a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), said on the state-owned Ekiti State Broadcasting Corporation, Television Service in Ado-Ekiti.
A crowd of PDP supporters awaiting the address of Fayose, prelude to a victory rally slated for the campaign headquarters of the PDP governorship candidate, Prof. Olusola Eleka, around Fajuyi area of the capital city, was dispersed by the police, using teargas.
The state governor had eventually shown up at the rally in neck brace, weeping, claiming that he had been teargassed and rough-handled by policemen who slapped and hit him with their guns.
He said he had been to the hospital for treatment and that in spite of that, was in pains, warning that if anything happened to him, the Inspector-General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris should be held responsible.
Fayose’s claim attracted instant rebuke from the public, leading to a nationwide protest Thursday by the PDP, which leadership marched on the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja, as well as all state commands of the Nigeria Police Force.
The police, however, stood down Thursday, lifting its siege to the Government House, Ado-Ekiti in an obvious remorse for its action a day earlier.
Police chief, Joshak, told the state-owned television that contrary to widespread belief, he did not order his men and officers to use teargas on the crowd.
He explained: “What I said was that those massing for the rally should be asked to leave because it is not good going by the mood of the state now to hold rally or street procession. I didn’t say they should use force.
“This is an election, and electioneering is a civil matter anywhere across the globe. So, police as security agents can’t use force on the people.
“But I want to assure the good people of Ekiti State that such mistake will never repeat itself.”
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communications, Mr. Lere Olayinka, said Fayose had been discharged from the hospital and was stabilising.
“The governor is now better and stabilising fast. He is out of the hospital and I believe he will get well soon,” he said.