The political skirmish over who becomes the next governor of Ekiti State is gradually snowballing into a conflict of two south west governors, as the Ayo Fayose led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu's All Progressives Congress (APC) have reduced the contention to verbal assaults.
Both governors, in separate statements on Monday, accused each other of attempting to gain advantage in the run up to the elections through illegal means.
While Mr Akeredolu accused his Ekiti State counterpart of resorting to "blatant lies" and "blackmail," Mr Fayose accused the former of plotting to scuttle the elections using thugs and Ondo State funds.
Mr. Akeredolu, the Governor of Ondo State, had openly declared his support for his party's candidate for the July 14 election, Kayode Fayemi and was at the campaign rally of the party last Friday where some party members were shot by a policeman.
The police have described the shooting as an accidental discharge and arrested the culpable officer.
Fayose had also seized the incident of the shooting to warn of an invasion of the state by his Ondo counterpart, alleging that he came with thugs to upset the peaceful environment of Ado Ekiti.
In a statement, the Kolapo Olusola Campaign Organization described Akeredolu as a "failed governor" whose weak record of development in Ondo State would (not) help Mr Fayemi win the coming election.
The organisation's spokesman , Lere Olayinka, said Mr Akeredolu should face governance in his state instead of wasting public funds on the Ekiti State governorship election, which the APC candidate could never win.
Olayinka, who is also the special assistant to the Ekiti governor on public communication and new media, described Mr Akeredolu's coming to Ekiti as "a failure advertising another failure."
"Ekiti is not a state to be taken by force and annexed to Ondo State by anyone. We have never served a foreign god and we are not going to start now," he said."Is Governor Akeredolu now happy with himself that after he led thugs and armed policemen to Ekiti in support of Fayemi, nine people are in hospital, three in critical condition, including Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele and Ekiti State is now in the news for negative reasons?
"We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians to the involvement of the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu in the plot by the APC to unleash terror on Ekiti and its people as part of the grand plot to forcefully take over the State, having realized that the party's cannot regain power through the ballots.
"Last week Friday, Governor Akeredolu mobilized over 150 armed policemen and several thugs from Akure, Ondo State to accompany the APC governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi to Ado Ekiti, thereby throwing Ekiti State that has been peaceful since the advent of Governor Ayodele Fayose's government into chaos."He also alleged that the thugs were led by one Jacob Adebo (popularly known as Idajo), who is the chairman of the National Union of Transport Workers (NURTW) in Ondo State.He alleged that Idajo was involved in the various attacks on Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele in 2014, especially on September 19, 2014 when his political movement, Bibiire Coalition was launched in Ado Ekiti.
"These thugs brought to Ekiti courtesy of Governor Akeredolu were the ones that went on rampage at Ojumose area of Ado Ekiti on Friday, destroying canopies and chairs in front of the residence of late Prince Adegoke," he further said."One of the teargas canisters fired by the policemen that accompanied the thugs hit a Taxi driver, Odeyemi Olumide, badly injuring him. He is now receiving treatment at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, alongside others who were shot at the APC secretariat.
"Backed by Governor Akeredolu, Idajo had early last month attempted to cause disharmony among drivers in Ekiti State by attempting a takeover of the unions by a dissident group."It should be noted that the Ondo State Governor had reportedly boasted that he was ready to spend two months allocation of his State to ensure that Fayemi is imposed on the people of Ekiti, and we wish to ask what his interest is.
"However, let it be said expressly that if he likes, he can deploy one year income of Ondo State to finance Fayemi's election, it will lead to failure because Ekiti people cannot be bought by anyone."He also mocked Mr Akeredolu, saying, more than 15 months as governor, Mr Akeredolu cannot boast of a single achievement in Ondo State apart from commissioning billboards. Yet, his priority is sponsoring thugs to Ekiti with millions of Naira.He accused the governor of owing workers' salaries and unable to protect Olu Falae and his farm from being attacked by Fulani herdsmen.
In a swift reaction to the assault from Ekiti, Akeredolu, through his special assistant on new media, Richard Olabode Olatunde, said Messrs Fayose and Olayinka were running a "lying machine," in their attempt to win the governorship election through lies.
"To set the records straight, Ondo State is presently witnessing massive infrastructural development in all sectors of the state. Just today at the state executive council meeting, a number of projects were approved for execution. That's how development is moving in Ondo state," he said.
He said Mr Fayose's accusation that Mr Akeredolu brought 150 policemen into Ekiti is preposterous and intellectually lazy.
He argued that when Mr Fayose and his cronies failed to pin the Friday's shooting on Mr Akeredolu, they have now resorted to lies, fabrication and concerted stories.
"It shamed Governor Fayose that the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO in Ekiti state, Caleb Okechukwu, cleared the air by exposing the facts that the shooter was a police officer brought from Lagos by an Ekiti Politician. Ordinarily, mischievous Fayose and his boy should have buried their heads in shame but, it's true that liars have no shame.
"Having realised that the falsehood being spread around on the Friday's shooting has been punctured by the police revelation, the Ekiti Governor has now settled for a new accusation that Mr. Akeredolu came to Ekiti with 150 policemen. The question every intelligent mind is asking is,150 policemen for what?"
He also accused Mr Fayose of trying to sow seeds of discord between the two states, despite being together as one state until 1996.
"We will love to state here categorically without mincing words that Governor Akeredolu reserves every right to show support for the candidate of his party in Ekiti state, just as Governor Nysom Wike of Rivers State and the rest are showing support for the PDP in the state," continued Mr Olabode.
He disclosed Fayose and the PDP are making issues out of this because of the smell of defeat that has overwhelmed them.
According to Mr Olabode, Fayose has also tried to rewrite the incident that occurred on Friday, claiming that the tear gas canisters that hit a taxi driver was fired by the police officers that accompanied the thugs from Akure.
"Residents of Ekiti and those who were present during the incident knew that the pandemonium that greeted the shooting at the APC secretariat necessitated the tear gas canisters fired by the policemen," he said.
"Please note that the policemen who fired the tear gas canisters were duly drafted to the secretariat by the Ekiti state police command to forestall the breakdown of law and order.
"Governor Fayose surely has a question to answer with this endless accusation despite the police revelation on the identity of the shooter. My questions for Governor Fayose are : Do you know more than the police in this case? Did Akeredolu bring the policeman who mistakenly fired the shot? Is it Akeredolu's fault that there was accidental discharge from a policeman he never met before? Is it right to begin to draw an innocent governor into what he knows nothing about?"
"All lovers of democracy should be worried at the rate Governor Fayose is pursuing the July 14, election in Ekiti with blatant lies and cheap blackmail. These are known strategies of low thinking, feeble minded and weakling politicians. I am talking about politicians who know next to nothing and intellectually bankrupt."
He also denied the allegations that workers had not been paid for several months, arguing that four out of the seven months unpaid salaries inherited from the previous administration had been cleared, while monthly salaries had been regular since the governor took over office.
He also boasted that the Akeredolu administration had carried out a number of developmental projects in the state in a year and few months in office contrary to claims by the Ekiti governor.
On attacks by herdsmen on Olu Falae, Mr Olabode said Mr Akeredolu sympathized with Chief Falae over the attack and also issued a strong warning to herdsmen to vacate the state.
He said no incident of herdsmen attack has been heard since then. "We are aware that same herdsmen kidnapped Chief Falae under the PDP administration in the state. He who comes to equity, must come with clean hands."
He added Fayose and his cronies should go and prepare for the governorship election rather than rely on the strategy of lies, vowing that the APC would win the election.