A violent crisis has erupted within the members of the Road Transport Employers Association (RETAN) in Ekiti State leading to 11 members loyal to the union’s South West zonal chairman, Fatimehin Isaac, and a state chairman ship hopeful, Adebayo Aderiye, sustaining serious machete cuts on their heads and parts of their body and being drenched in their own blood on Sunday.
Fatimehin who spoke to journalists inside the Ayinyin Shopping Complex in Ado Ekiti, the scene of the alleged violent attack on the members, alleged that another state chairmanship hopeful, Rotimi Joseph Olanbiwonninu, alias Mentilo, was responsible for the attack and vandalism of the shopping complex and his own house behind it.
His words: “I am the South West zonal chairman of and a member of the National Executive Council of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RETAN).
“We have been having violent attacks on our people since the day before yesterday. These attacks are led by a former state chairman of RETAN in Ekiti, Rotimi Joseph Olanbiwonninu, popular as Mentilo, who has been bringing thugs armed with guns and cutlasses and other dangerous weapons to attack our people. As I speak with you, 11 of our people are in the hospital now. They have sustained deep matchete cuts on their heads and parts of their bodies.
“Mentilo is not happy that the national body of our union, headed by Alhaji Musa Sheu Iswele, is considering Aderiye Adebayo, alias Ojuigo as the Acting Chairman for our union in Ekiti. This is why he is bringing many thugs armed with dangerous weapons to attack our people in my house. We were at the national meeting in Abuja and I arrived on Thursday. Ojuigo and Mentilo had gone to Abuja before me.
” The truth is that Rotimi Joseph Olanbiwonninu alias Mentilo had chaired the state RETAN for over 9 and half years now and this was why the national body is considering Ojuigo who has not tasted the leadership of the body in the state before.
” On Saturday, when I was called on this matter by Sunday Adeola, a leader in our union who is supporting Mentilo, I explained to the him that I had explained to all parties that those who have chaired the state chapter of our union before should retire like me and allow others who haven’t been there to have their turn. I said we should retire and be others god fathers for others.
“I explained again that the Mentilo caucus had not come to see me to seek my support on their ambition but Ojuigo had done so and he has got my support. I pleaded with him not to be violent in pursuing their ambition, saying that I wanted peace as the father of all parties and caucuses.
” He then advised that I have a meeting with the two parties of Mentilo and Ojuigo and I said that is okay, but that I would like to have a meeting with him first. He hung up on the line and said it was okay. But it wasn’t up to 30 minutes when we have spoken on phone, when thugs armed to the teeth with guns and dangerous weapons came to my shopping complex along Adebayo Road in Ado Ekiti, and unleashed terror on everyone they met in the complex. They matchetted all our members loyal to Ojuigo who were in my custody. But they didn’t touch me. They vandalized the shops and broke doors and windows of the shopping complex and my house behind the complex.
“We went to report the case to the police station at the Oke Ila but were referred to the state command where our men were again referred to the Oke Isa police station where the hospital treated some of our wounded members.
“The police in Ekiti have not taken concrete step in this matter as they seem to have allowed Mentilo to continue to unleash terror on our people. This same Mentilo has been going about saying that the newly elected governor of Ekiti, John Kayode Fayemi is behind him and that he can kill anybody in the state and nothing will happen.
“ But we know that he is telling lies with such boasting as we know our amiable governor-elect cannot support his violent ways. Besires, I am a staunch supporter of Fayemi as member of his party. We plead with the Inspector General of police, Ibrahim Idris, to urgently arrest these Mentilo and his gang so that there can be peace in the state,” he said.
Daily Champion also spoke with the National President of RETAN on phone, Alhaji Iswele, and he said: “We have a Caretaker Committee in place now as head of the RETAN in Ekiti and it is headed by Mr. Lekan Amusan. We haven’t given anyone a paper to recognize him as the chairman of the union in the state. When we got the report from our people that Mentilo is attacking the members with arms and thugs and chasing them away from the terminals, we invited Mentilo to Abuja but he refused to honour our invitation. We have then advised the South West zonal chairman of RETAN who is Alhaji Isaac Fatimehin to write a petition to the Inspector General of police and copy us. We have a lawyer who will take up the matter on behalf if the union.
“We have also set up a Caretaker Committee which offered to settle the matter between the parties but the two warring parties, Ojuigo and Mentilo, failed to reach a peaceful pact. So, we asked the Committee to continue leading the union.
” Mentilo is not our member. He has just been released from the prison. He is no more a card carrying member of the union because the constitution says that once you are away for more than three months from the union, you lose your membership. Mentilo has been away from us for more than a year now, ” Isiwele said.
When Daily Champion contacted him on phone to react to the allegations of the attack by Fatimehin, Mentilo asked to see the Reporter first before he could comment.He asked the Reporter of his location and when told, he said: “I will call you back. I am presently with the Department of State Security Services. ”