Amid plans to organise a mass action against the prolonged absence of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, human rights activist Omoyele Sowore has alleged that the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, reversed his earlier approval to use the town hall in the city as a convergence point.
Mr Sowore, who announced a massive protest in the state capital, Akure, against Mr Akeredolu’s insistence on clinging to power despite his ill health, alleged that Mr Ogunlade-Aladelusi decided to turn down his earlier approval of using the town hall after an alleged threat from the State Security Service (SSS).
“Just received information that the lawless @OfficialDSSNG went to the Deji of Akure palace to threaten him not to allow us to use the Akure Hall venue scheduled for our Townhall Meeting on Saturday.
“They asked the monarch to refund my deposit, but I have told his emissary that we will go ahead and use the hall no matter what on Saturday. #AkeredoluMustResign NO GOING BACK,” he said on Monday.
But in a swift reaction, the Akure monarch debunked Mr Sowore’s allegations, saying there was no threat from the SSS to reverse the earlier approval granted for the usage of the town hall.
Mr Ogunlade-Aladelusi, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Michael Adeyeye, revealed that his decision to make a U-turn for the approval of the town hall was because the facility was allegedly booked under a ‘pretentious manner’ to conceal the real motive of the usage.
“We wish to state unequivocally that there was never any time that the DSS threatened the Deji’s of Akure or anyone on the premise of seeking the reversal of the temporary approval granted for the usage of Akure Town Hall by the Deji’s Palace Property Committee.
“For the avoidance of doubt and save for the unsuspecting Public, the withdrawal of the approval earlier granted by the Deji’s Palace Property Committee, which is saddled with the responsibility of managing the facility, was sequel to the fact that the request for the usage of the facility was made under a pretentious manner that conceals the real motive of the usage of the Hall,” he said in the statement.
The Akure monarch noted that the initial approval granted by Mr Sowore for the usage of the town hall, which necessitated the payment of a deposit of N100,000, was for a roundtable meeting of a coalition of civil societies rather than for a meeting point for any procession.
He added that it was an established standard for anyone or organisation requesting the usage of the hall or any community facilities for any activities to fully disclose the purpose of the usage.
While explaining that the hall had always been made available for all activities, including social events, religious activities, political gatherings, and rallies, Mr Ogunlade-Aladelusi said concealing the real motive for such a gathering, for which approval for the usage of the hall was sought, goes against the standing rules for getting the facility approval.
“While the palace strongly acknowledges the right of individual organisations and societies to lawful assembly, procession, and protest as the case may be in a democratic society, seeking the approval for the usage of palace facility or any other should not be done in a deceitful manner, as such action will leave the Palace Property Committee with no option than reversing any approval granted under such a manner.
“We wish to inform the General Public that the disapproval for the usage of the facility was not in any way as a result of any form of threat or harassment from SSS or any quarter but rather on the fact that the approval was sought in a fraudulent manner that negates the rules for seeking the usage of the hall.”
Mr Sowore, in a message posted on X, formerly Twitter, said Mr Akeredolu, who had been away from Ondo for more than four months, creating a vacuum in the governance of the state, should either “resume or resign” office or face the anger of the citizens of the state.
In the message, which has continued to generate ripples, the activist asked the residents of the state to troop out for a town hall meeting scheduled for the weekend in the state capital, stressing that they must “occupy” the state in a street protest.
“Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu must resign now. #RevolutionNow. All persons of conscience should join us starting to #OccupyOndoState until the state is liberated from hungry wolves.
“There would be a town hall meeting and a beginning of street protests in Akure and across Ondo state on Saturday, December 16th, 2023. All persons of conscience are invited,” he said.