From YINKA OLUDAYISI FABOWALE
Spirited moves were launched on double fronts yesterday to calm frayed nerves and douse smouldering tension in Osun State generated by the controversial death of the first civilian governor of the state, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke.
First, his family sued for calm to allow them mourn the late popular politician, while on the political front, his associates and political leaders within and outside Ede, his immediate constituency, rallied to pacify legions of his supporters and rioting youths to give peace a chance.
Ede has been on the boil since news of the ex-governor’s demise, following suspicion that he was poisoned by political opponents, eager to eliminate him from contesting the next gubernatorial election of the state for which he had begun to campaign.
His constituents felt robbed, as he was favoured to clinch his party’s ticket and win the poll, as a major political force and votes swinger, particularly in Osun West Senatorial District, expected to produce the Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s successor.
Senator Adeleke’s multi billionaire brother, Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, in an exclusive interview with Daily Sun regretted the orgy of violence and protests that greeted the late politician’s passage, saying they did little honour to the memory of his beloved brother, whom he described as a man of peace.
He said while the grief of the masses and his fans was understandable, it was preposterous and unjustified to base it on rumour and unfounded political insinuations.
“We’ve done the autopsy; the result is yet to be out. The pathologist has given us a week or two within which it will be out. Let people not make assumptions, jump to conclusions or accuse anybody without proof. We’re not doing the memory of the departed, who was a man who loved peace, any honour by being violent.
“That’s why I appealed to them this morning to allow peace to reign. We just want to mourn our brother in peace. I loved my brother so much; he was my hero, as he was theirs. We (the family) have been in pain. We cry, we’ve been crying day and night. When everybody (crowds of sympathizers) leaves we cry even more. He was a peaceful man. You wouldn’t find him going about causing trouble when he was alive,” the younger Adeleke told Daily Sun, at his palatial residence in Ede, where he kept receiving a stream of sympathisers.
Another member of the family decried media report claiming that the autopsy report indicated that Adeleke’s death was due to an alleged overdose of drugs, stressing that those behind the report were only eager to debunk the insinuation that some political forces were behind his death. “The truth of the matter is that we are still awaiting the autopsy report. We had submitted all the infusions, intravenous injections and other medications with which he was treated as asked by the pathologist at LAUTECH.
“But, I can assure you that there was no colour change, no frothing or discharge from any part of his body which could suggest poisoning as being speculated. Our brother’s skin was glowing and as fresh as a baby’s. I believe the insinuations gained ground because of the political incorrectness on ground” the source who was part of the team that took the corpse to LAUTECH for autopsy, said.
Also, political leaders in the town and Adeleke’s allies from other parts of the state including some former aides of Governor Rauf Aregbesola began moves to appeal to the irate townsfolk to sheath their swords. They had dared not before now, as the angry demonstrators did not make any distinction in their attacks of politicians.
But, some summoned courage to initiate the moves yesterday, noting that they could be accused of instigating the people, not knowing that the protest was a spontaneous reaction. Some of them, who spoke to Daily Sun said the irate supporters were desperately looking for and attacking politicians they felt may have betrayed the late senator.
“They even wounded his brother, Deji, on the leg, apart from Idiat Babalola whom they mobbed, some of our people including an Honourable (a member of the state House of Assembly from the area,) who hurriedly left and escaped when the crisis started. They were even disrespectful and dared respected indigenes and elders of the town including former DIG, Adedayo Seun Adeoye,” a source said.
Meanwhile, Governor Aregebesola’s spokesman, Semiu Okanlawon, said the unruly behaviour of the mob had denied the late Adeleke of a state burial befitting him as a former governor of the state.
Okanlawon, who denied any political rift between his boss and Adeleke as being speculated, said despite the short notice of the funeral being an Islamic one, the state government had prepared to dignify it as a state burial in view of Adeleke’s status as an ex-governor.
“The Deputy Governor was leading a government delegation to the funeral, they were already on their way, when the report of violence came…We don’t think that would be the best way to honour Senator Adeleke, who was known to be a man of peace.”
On Governor Aregbesola’s opposition to Adeleke’s come-back bid, Okanlawon said:”The tribute of the governor to the late Senator has taken care of it all. There was no rift whatsoever. It was an unfounded rumour. As Governor Aregbesola said he worked for the governor’s reelection and the governor worked for his election into the Senate in 2014…. Yes, there would always be power blocs, but the fact is they were in the same party and would always work for the interest of their party. In any case, he was entitled to vie for the governorship and Aregbesola is not seeking reelection. So, how could there be friction?”
A former Information Commissioner in Aregbesola’s administration and ally of Adeleke, Sunday Akere, blamed the sudden and curious nature of the death of Adeleke, for the public disturbance, given that he was seen healthy a day before his demise.
He said although he was informed by the deceased that a member of the state Elders Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, recently queried him for criss-crossing the state to campaign for next year’s election, thus flouting a subsisting ban imposed by the party on aspirants.
“Personally, I don’t think there was an issue between him and the governor over his governorship ambition. They were even together at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s birthday. They were both moving around. In any case, it’s not violence that’ll solve the problem. Whether it’s true that he was killed, or not, let those who killed him not die,” Akere said.