The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and his party on Saturday fumed over the high level of political intolerance in Lagos State after suspected thugs attacked the party’s supporters and destroyed several vehicles.
The Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council also called on the international community to hold the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu responsible for the attack, just as the Lagos State chapter of the APC has described the allegation as reckless and irresponsible.
In what may have been a coordinated attack, the hoodlums were said to have ambushed the LP supporters around Jakande in the Lekki area of Lagos and outside the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) venue of the rally on Lagos Island.
The supporters were reportedly attacked with machetes and other objects as they made their way to the TBS.
THISDAY gathered that medical personnel at TBS had their hands full as they attended to the injured.
Also, videos and pictures on social media showed vandalised buses and cars, with many LP supporters with bruises.
Obi, who described the attack as troubling, urged the Police to fish out those responsible.
He said: “I received reports that four members of the ‘Obidient’ Family were attacked and injured in Lagos ahead of today’s rally. That incident, deliberate or not, is deeply troubling. Such an act stands vehemently condemned.
“We cannot continue to tolerate attacks on political opposition members, often fuelled by the incendiary rhetorics of political leaders. The new Nigeria that we seek is founded on peace, justice, and respect for the rule of law. I call on the Lagos State security agencies to fish out those responsible for the attacks,” Obi explained.
Also reacting, the LP’s Presidential Campaign Council spokesperson, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, in a statement sent THISDAY, lamented that thugs believed to be from the APC launched brutal attacks on the party’s supporters in Lagos.
Tanko said the attack was aimed at stopping the ‘Obidients,’ the Obi/Datti candidacy supporters, from attending the campaign rally at the TBS in Lagos.
He further explained that many of the victims of the attacks were injured while the hoodlums shattered the windscreens of several vehicles.
He said: “It’s highly regrettable that Lagos, which assumes to be the most sophisticated city in Africa, could witness this type of barbarism in the 21st century.”
Tanko called on “the security agencies and the international community to hold the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the ruling APC government responsible for the mayhem unleashed on the ‘Obidients.’
He further expressed disappointment at the inability of the security agencies to checkmate the excesses of thugs in Lagos State despite the earlier signs of threats.
He said: “The failure of the police to arrest and prosecute the suspects who attacked the LP flag boys then emboldened the thugs for what is happening today in Lagos.”
But reacting to the allegation, the Lagos APC described the accusation by the Labour Party as baseless and irresponsible.
A statement issued last night by the Lagos APC Spokesman, Hon. Seye Oladejo said the party abhors violence as everybody has the constitutional right to support any party of their choice.
“It is irresponsible and reckless of the tottering party to level such a wild allegation without substantial proof. The APC, as the ruling party in Lagos State, remains the biggest stakeholder in ensuring that there is no breakdown of law and order
“We want to state unequivocally that our members were not involved in any attack. Our investigation into the concerned local government made nonsense of the allegation. Our position has always been for the security agencies to do their job and bring those found culpable in any attack to book.
“Those who alleged must be able to provide evidence and point at suspects and leave the rest to the Police and other security agencies
“We abhor violence as a party. Everybody has the constitutional right to support whichever party they choose, and we don’t think that should make for any violence,” he explained
Meanwhile, Obi welcomed to Lagos with loud cheers from his teeming supporters upon his arrival, had made a stop at the Alaba International Market in Lagos State before proceeding to the TBS venue of the rally.
He promised to return to the market as president to address all the issues confronting the area.
At the grand finale of the ‘Obidient’ Family rally, Obi urged his supporters, who came out in their thousands, to take note of his promises so that they can hold him accountable when elected president on February 25.
“What Datti and I are telling you is that all the APC and PDP have done in the last 20 years is to produce insecurity, poverty, joblessness, ASUU strike, fuel scarcity or one form of suffering or the other.
“But we are promising that we will secure and unite Nigeria. We will ensure that when we start after some years no Nigerian would say I’m from the West, East, North or South but will be proud to say he or she is a Nigerian.
“We assure you that we are going to work hard to pull people out of poverty. We are going to ensure that our youths are employed and the way to do it is that we will remove this country from consumption to production,” Obi explained.
Obi also promised that his government will apologise to all victims of police brutality if elected in the highly anticipated February 25 poll.
“We will apologise to all those who are victims of police brutality. All those who have suffered at the hands of the government will apologise to them. We will make sure that it never happens again. Nigeria will be a peaceful country.”
According to him, the country’s security agents will “no longer” be used for harassment.
“Police will not harass anybody; they will be your care because we’re going to train those on how to do policing,” he promised.
Obi added that the law enforcement agencies would be equipped and more trained personnel recruited, saying, “The Police will be a friend, not an enemy. They will do the work of policing. We will not have all these problems we have.”
He vowed to ensure the supremacy of law and order while the country’s security and unity would be paramount.
He also assured voters of a free press that would be allowed to “criticise what we’re doing.”
Obi promised to increase the nation’s reserves through agriculture and the stability of the currency.
“No Nigerian will be ethnocentric but a Nigerian. We want Nigerians to celebrate their passport,” he said.
The former Anambra State governor said if elected, his administration would work hard to secure people from poverty, moving Nigeria from consumption to production.
“Lagos will remain the centre of excellence and finance,” he said. “Nigeria has all the endowment to be a great country.”
According to him, there will be an enabling environment for business, and “our gas will be developed to give more money than oil.”
On his part, the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr. Julius Abure, said PDP and APC had mismanaged the country. He said all the years of APC and PDP represented the years of woes, suffering, insecurity, hunger, and unemployment.
Before the rally, attended by many dignitaries, including the leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and many others, Obi led thousands of his supporters in a road walk from Alaba International to the TBS, the venue of his mega campaign rally.
The Lagos rally is one of the biggest the Labour Party has held since the commencement of the presidential campaign, as it caused gridlock on many roads in the state.
Addressing the crowd of supporters, Adebanjo said that the ‘Emi lokan’ claim by Tinubu is an agreement between him (Tinubu) and President Muhammadu Buhari.
‘Emi lokan’, a Yoruba phrase meaning “it is my turn” was made popular by Tinubu, following his June 2022 address in Abeokuta, Ogun State when he pushed for the APC presidential ticket.
Adebanjo added that the expression does not represent the Yoruba people but is an agreement that Tinubu would succeed Buhari after he leaves office.
The 94-year-old elder statesman said, “The one who said ‘it is my turn’ is his agreement with Buhari.
“Emilokan didn’t say it is the turn of the Yoruba. Emilokan’s agreement with Buhari was that when Buhari left office, he would take over. (But) were you there when he said that?” he asked the crowd, who responded, “No.”
Adebanjo reiterated that if the LP candidate does not win the election, “forget about Nigeria.”
He said: “I said before that if Obi does not come in as the president, forget Nigeria. The northern elders now say I want to impose Obi on them. No! They want to impose a northerner on us, and we said no.”
Police Say Attack Reprehensible, Promise Investigation
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command has confirmed the attack on supporters of Obi, describing it as reprehensible.
A spokesman for the state police command, Benjamin Hundeyin, who confirmed the attack via a statement on his Twitter handle, disclosed that efforts were in top gear to fish out the perpetrators.
He said: “Jakande Ward, Chairman of Labour Party, commendably reported an attack on his party members at Ilasan Division. Four injured persons have been given medical attention. DPO Ilasan has commenced preliminary investigations, while SCID is to take over investigations fully.
“The injured and other witnesses are assisting the Police with relevant information that would aid the apprehension and prosecution of the attackers.
“This attack is reprehensible! It is verifiable that the Command had stationed, since yesterday, patrol vehicles and officers at the Tafawa Balewa Square venue of today’s rally. We had already secured the venue to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
“The regrettable attack happened about 15km away from the rally venue. As earlier stated, the SCID will take over investigations towards apprehending and prosecuting the attackers.”
Segun James in Lagos and Emameh Gabriel in Abuja