By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Former Leader of the Kwara state House of Assembly in the Second Republic and a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Wole Oke, has debunked the claim by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, associating the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Shao, Kwara North Senatorial District, with the ongoing APC registration exercise in the community.
Recall that the Minister had at a press conference on Monday in his country home, Oro, in Irepodun local government area of Kwara state, disclosed that “in Shao, Kwara North Senatorial District, the APC registration materials were taken to a police station where the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the station presided over membership registration, in contravention of the party’s guidelines.”
Chief Oke, who is the Jagunmolu of Shao, said: “The DPO has had nothing to do with the exercise at any time. The police station under his control has merely provided refuge and security for the officially appointed registration officers of the Ward to do their work because of the threat posed by the members of the faction under the leadership of the duo of Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Honourable Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa, the erstwhile state chairman of the party.
“What Alhaji Lai Mohammed has done in respect of the unverified report from his followers in Shao, regarding the goings on the membership registration exercise is below what his status demands, either as a party leader or as a national figure, being a member of the Federal Executive Council. Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s accusation against the DPO of Shao is monstrously ridiculous and baseless, callous and an abuse of the ministerial office he occupies. The DPO who has been unjustifiably maligned deserves an unreserved apology from the Honourable Minister.
“Among issues raised by the Minister at the press conference regarding the APC registration/revalidation membership exercise was what he referred to as irregularities in the process of the exercise, citing a number of areas of the alleged irregularities. According to the Honourable Minister, relying on the report submitted to him by his “followers” in Shao, alleged that the Divisional police officer in Shao was the one who was presiding over the APC membership registration in the town.
“The Minister believed his followers’ report which also added that they (his followers) in Shao were denied registration. To say the least, any reasonable leader, worth his leadership status would have done thorough investigation into such a sensitive matter like, the indictment of a public officer of the status of the DPO whose integrity is being assailed, muddied and besmirched.
“I, Chief Wole Oke, a chieftain of the party and, in my status as a leader of the party in Shao, nay, in Kwara State generally, a fact which the Honourable Minister knows quite well, having been together for close to two decades in our partisan political relationship, should, under whatever circumstances, have contacted me to find out the truth of the situation in Shao before he hurriedly went public with the fake information submitted to him by his followers.
“I have always been in Shao, on daily basis, since the commencement of the revalidation / registration exercise last week. Every party member who presented himself/herself for registration was duly registered by the registration officers in all the seven (7) registration centers in Shao Ward. However, those who are known in Shao to be members of the group of the former chairman of the party, Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa (BOB), of which the Honourable Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, is their recognized leader in the state, have refused to register at the officially approved registration centres, the INEC polling centres, but rather, they have set up their own registration centre in front of the house of one of their members, Mr. David Samuel.
“They were going from house to house to take the pictures of people, including very old women who never even belonged to their group, for the purpose of passport photos for their registration.
It was this same group of deviant APC members who were going round the town telling the people of the community not to go out to the officially approved centres to register. One of their diabolical plans was to invade every officially approved registration centre in the Ward with the intention to pour ink in large quantity on the registration materials in the venue with a view to destroying the registers and booklets already containing names of members who had come forward to register. It was in view of this maniac threat of vandalism that the registration officers, with the approval of the Ward Supervisors, sought refuge within the premises of the police station in Shao.