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Commotion in Ekiti as rival driver unions clash

The peace in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, was again disrupted yesterday as many persons reportedly sustained various degrees of injury when members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) clashed over a leadership tussle within the union.

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The union has not known peace since a faction loyal to the former chairman of the union, Mr Rotimi Olabiwonnu, and six others were released from the prison by a court judgment in January, 2018.

They had been arrested and kept in the prison for over three years over the murder of the former Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in Ekiti, Chief Omolafe Aderiye, on September 24, 2014 but were set free by the court.

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What fuelled the latest crisis was the alleged arrest of Olabiwonnu by the police, which some of his loyalists misinterpreted to be another ploy to incarcerate him.

There were sporadic gunshots along the Ijigbo and Old Garage up to the Okeyinmi axis in Ado Ekiti on yesterday by rival groups over a violent clash between the Olabiwonnu and Samuel Agbede groups.

Shop owners around the area and other locations within the state capital hurriedly closed their shops at about 12 noon and returned home.

Those loyal to Olabiwonnu had been making efforts to take over leadership in all RTEAN units even before Fayemi even won the election.

While Olabiwonnu is a loyalist of Dr Fayemi, the governor-elect, Agbede, the Chairman of RTEAN, is a close ally of Governor Ayodele Fayose.

The popular Oja Oba that was always busy could not operate for several hours as gunshots by members of the drivers’ union rent the air.

Eyewitnesses said many people were wounded as they fled in different directions to prevent being killed.

Following the tension the crisis generated, the police immediately drafted their men and cordoned off the flash points, which prevented motorists from plying that road for several hours.

When called for confirmation, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti Command, Mr Caleb Ikechukwu, said the situation had been put under control.

Ikechukwu said no arrest had been made in connection with the crisis. 

 

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