No doubt political violence is a regular but avoidable part of our partisan politics as a result of inability of some politicians to abide by the basic tenets of democratic practice.
The incidence of violence is heightened during electoral campaigns when some political candidates for various offices face each other in a frenetic push to capture power. It is employed to intimidate opponents and their supporters when it is clear that a candidate is set to clinch the position or to scare away electorate from exercising their rights.
However even in the common occurrence of political violence rarely do we come across an opponent personally leading an attack on another candidate. It is usually done by proxies or hirelings as it is not only uncouth and disgraceful but indicative of such candidate unfitness for any public office.
On Saturday January 31, 2015, yet another unique form of violence was introduced to Nigerian politics in Lagos West Senatorial District where Hon. Solomon Adeola aka Yayi, the chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts is in contest under APC against Mr. Segun Adewale aka Aeroland of PDP for the seat of a senator.
For a while stories abounds of the unpalatable antecedents of Mr. Adewale, stories that are not helped by his open admission on electronic media of his graduation for good from such unsavoury background. But as the saying goes a leopard can hardly change its spots.
As reported in at least one national newspaper, The Nation on Sunday February 1, 2015 and a couple of other electronic media, Mr. Adewale personally led a gun attack on the Adeniyi Jones Campaign office of Hon. Adeola at around 7pm. The volley of shots at the office dented the rod of the office gates, shattered the rear windshield of Hon. Adeola Toyota Land cruiser Jeep, shattered the window of the personal office of Hon. Adeola as well as left over 20 pellets marks on the wall of the office.
Thankfully only minor injuries were sustained by supporters of Yayi in the office scampering for safety.
From available information on the incidents certain irrefutable facts are undeniable. The first is that Mr. Adewale accepted as per the Nation publication that he was at the scene of the gun attack at the time of the incident.
He was reported to have said he came to the office to lay complaints to the Police officer at the gate of the defacement of his posters by Hon. Adeola supporters. He denied shooting even when there were witnesses including a Policeman attached to Hon. Adeola’s office on the incident. While the Nigerian Police continue their painstaking or snail speed investigation as no single arrest has been made on the incident as I write this in the second week of March, certain conclusions can be drawn from the incident. Was Mr. Adewale right as a candidate of a party to visit the office of his major opponent during the campaign period?
Assuming we believe his assertion that he only came to his opponent office to lay a complaint, the question to ask is whether that office is the Public Complaint Office or the Police station or similar conflict resolution institution.
In civilized climes and among cultured humans in a democratic setting, Mr. Adewale should not be seen near his opponent office talk less of leading an armed assault against the office while campaign is ongoing.
It is provocative in the extreme and some legal opinions concede that were he to have been killed in a possible counter attack during the incident, the argument of self- defense by Hon. Adeola or his security details would have been sustained in a court of law.
Indeed Mr. Adewale should be directed to understudy the Watergate Scandal in USA that led to the resignation of a sitting President. The crime therein are similar to the case under consideration albeit that this is more serious as it involves use of arm and ammunitions (six shotgun cartridges were recovered after the incident) by an opponent against another opponent.
But shortly after his self-indicting reaction to the Nation which has not been refuted, Mr. Adewale quickly changed his story through a post on his Facebook Page .
Explaining his presence at Mr. Adeola’s office, Mr. Adewale said his campaign team “was returning from a massive and peaceful rally we held from Ajeromi Ifelodun to Ikeja where our convoy was passing through Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja was attacked with several gunshots fired by Hon. Olamilekan Solomon’s supporters and security people”. As Hon. Adeola argued in a press conference describing the attack as an assassination attempt, the lie in this is not difficult to see.
Hear him, “A “peaceful rally” from Ajeromi Ifelodun going through Adeniyi Jones after 7pm must have a sinister agenda for the strange route it chooses to pass”.
The point of Hon. Adeola is that for those that know the terrain, the Adewale campaign team route to either his office or house after his campaign would not have taken him through Adeniyi Jones except he has a business to transact on that street on a Saturday night in his campaign convoy.
For those that do not know the layout, it is like trying to get to Benin City from Lagos by first going to Abuja! Such is the quixotic route Mr. Adewale choses to get to his supposed destination of his own house or campaign office. Certainly he has other mission in mind for passing that route on the fateful evening.
Not a few expressed disbelieve in this twist to a witnessed violent attack pursuant of democratic competition.
Thankfully, the Nigerian Police through its Lagos State Command PPRO, Mr. Kenneth Nwosu in a Punch publication of February 13, 2015 confirmed that the campaign office of Hon. Adeola was attacked on the day in question and investigation is going on. Attacked by who one may ask? But as stated above it is regrettable that so far not a single arrest has been made in this high profile case with credible witnesses including a Police officer.
At any event one would counsel that all candidates should sell their credentials for the post they aspire to. This could be done through reaching out to the electorate with their life history, service to community and advantages over their opponents without recourse to violence.
It is the electorate that will decide who represent them at the hallowed chamber of the National Assembly. Recourse to violence and intimidation is completely undemocratic and should not be associated with Lagos State that is ostensibly the most enlightened part of Nigeria.
It also shows candidate not enjoying the confidence and support of the people they intends to represent. All candidates should imbibe and demonstrate their knowledge of democracy to exclude all forms of violence and intimidation. Democratic contest should not be a do or die affair and the earlier candidates to the path of peace, the better for our democracy.
Chief Kayode Odunaro is a Public Affairs Analyst