The Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration, Mr. Bola Ilori, was beaten by some suspected political thugs at the zonal meeting of the All Progressives Congress Committee on Restructuring, at the International Event Centre, Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Thursday.
The commissioner, who was one of the representatives of Osun State at the forum, was assaulted when he left the hall to grant a press interview at the entrance.
An eyewitness narrated that the commissioner, after speaking at the programme went out to grant an interview outside the hall.
The eyewitness said as he (Ilori) stood in front of the journalists’ cameras and was about talking, one of the thugs went to him and said, ‘What are you looking for in the APC programme? You are an Alliance for Democracy member, what are you looking for here?.”
It was gathered that the thug was later joined by his colleagues to assault the commissioner and tore his dress and underwear in the process.
The source said, “The thugs swooped on the commissioner and started beating him. They tore his dress and underwear in the process. He attempted to run away but the thugs would not let him as they held unto him. After stripping the commissioner almost half-naked, they left him with a warning that he should not join the meeting or any programme of the APC again. In fact, it was one of his sympathisers that offered him a shirt to wear.”
The incident infuriated the delegates from Osun State who disrupted the programme as they were shouting and pushing some members of the Ondo APC in the hall, saying they were not going to accept the assault on their leader. The APC delegates from Osun State, who later learnt about the assault said they would not continue with the programme until the thugs were arrested.
It took the intervention of the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, and some security agents to calm frayed nerves. They later escorted Ilori back into the hall in a borrowed shirt.
Speaking with journalists, Ilori alleged that the thugs were sent to attack him by the Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Mr. Sunday Abegunde, for unknown reason.
“We came here in the interest of the nation, the party calls for opinion of the people on restructuring we have done our presentation and there was no problem, only for the thugs of Abegunde, the SSG to come and harass me. “
“If I have come here today alone, it would have been another thing. It is the SSG, Sunday Abegunde, that sent them,” Ilori alleged.
When newsmen sought Abegunde’s reaction he directed them to the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, who was already talking with some people about it.
Olowolabi dismissed Ilori’s claim, alleging that Osun Commissioner came to the venue with the intention of causing trouble because he was not invited to speak at the programme.
Olowolabi said, “The Osun people came here with thugs, they came with charms and dangerous weapons. Why were people from Ekiti not attacked? It was very clear that they were here to cause trouble.
“We are peace-loving people in Ondo State, many people have spoken before him, there was no problem, he was not the one to speak for Osun State but tactically took over the microphone and spoke. After the incident, he even thanked his ‘army’ that they proved that they can defend themselves. This is very sad.”