Rival supporters of Governor Ibikunle Amosun and the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, clashed on Monday as both engaged in a test of might and popularity.
The clash, which heightened tension, was ahead of the scheduled visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state in continuation of his presidential campaign rally.
The MKO Abiola International Stadium, Abeokuta, venue of the rally, was being manned by heavy security personnel, comprising Army, Police, DSS and NSCDC officials, who tried to gain entry into the stadium and its main bowl.
Tension began to build up when it became clear that APC supporters loyal to Amosun and Abiodun as well as loyalists of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) gubernatorial candidate, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, were desperate to outshine one another.
Amosun, who is opposed to the candidature of Abiodun, is supporting Akinlade as his anointed governorship candidate.
At some point, armed security agents had to disperse the surging crowd with tear gas.
However, in the heat of the clash which left several people injured, Amosun accused Police and DSS operatives of bias, saying they prevented a lot of people and admirers of the president from entering into the venue.
He was at the venue to supervise and put finishing touches to arrangements for the rally ahead of the president’s arrival.
The governor, who went on the podium to make announcement, claimed that his efforts to allow the people enter through the stadium gates were frustrated by the security operatives.
He said, “DSS and Police, don’t create crisis for us in Ogun. I notice you are using tear gas. Please don’t try it. Any moment from now, we are going to allow our people because they are outside.
“I have called everybody, we are going to open the gates. I assure you nobody will climb the tartan tracks. So, security operatives, I’m putting you on notice. Some of our people travelled five hours to come here. Help us to help you. We don’t mean any harm.
“I beg you in the name of God, stop that tear gas. People have been here for four days working to make what we are seeing happen. Please, don’t come and destroy it. Don’t come and cause stampede.”
Immediately Amosun finished his announcement, he alighted from the podium and went out with some of his aides to the admiration of his cheering supporters.
Shortly afterwards, hundreds of people were sighted entering into the main bowl of the stadium ostensibly after the security personnel relaxed access.
Earlier at the event, party faithful, supporters, and members of different socio-political groups, dressed in colourful outfits, chanted and danced to pro-Buhari songs.
Newsmen report that the venue was also emblazoned with banners and posters bearing pictures of Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Amosun, but that of the APC governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun, was conspicuously missing.
Meanwhile, security operatives on Monday arrested four suspected thugs were at the stadium with axes, charms and other dangerous weapons.
The suspects were said to be trying to smuggle the weapons into the venue when they were intercepted. They were later taken to an undisclosed police station as at press time.
As at the time of filing this report at 2:00pm, wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, and the APC deputy governorship candidate, Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele, had arrived the venue.