BY KAYODE ANIMASAUN
Youths of gbogi area, in Akure have protested what they described as unlawful assault and arrest of three of them by the Ondo State government task force led by the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr. Doyin Odebowale while they were trying to rehabilitate a collapsed bridge in the area.
The angry youths who spoke with Radio Nigeria in Akure alleged that Dr Odebowale allegedly ordered his team to beat up those engaged among them to rectify the faulty part of the bridge, claiming that they did not take permission from the government before carrying out the work.
They also alleged that the task force beat them and whisked those working on the bridge away to anti scorpions squad around FUTA area.
One of the victims, Ebenezer Adeyemi said “Yesterday morning, I was called that the director of First Mercy hospital wanted us to come and repair the Gbogi junction bridge. When we got there with our instruments, cement and iron rods bought for use, including carpenter and bricklayers as well as the youths around and trying to draw the iron rod up for us to lay a plank under it, I did not even know he was the SSA to the governor, and we did not disturb passing vehicles or okada, we only passed them to go through the sides of the bridge.
Odebowale just came and asked us who gave us approval to embark on the bridge rehabilitation. We tried to call those who gave us the go-ahead to help and explained to him that we were trying to stop how the bridge has been damaging vehicles, he then called the special task force and when they came, they started beating and kicking us inside the gutter.
They seized all the equipment, arrested and drove us to anti scorpions squad around 11 o’clock in the morning. We were later released around 12 minutes before 6pm.They asked us to come back next day again.”
Speaking on behalf of the youths in the area, Sola Adefemi said “We were here when those guys started the work, we had to help them so that the work could be faster because this is our street, where we were born.
As Odebowale was coming, he started cursing us and uttering negative words against us that why did we block the road. We tried to tell him that our intention was to ensure smooth movement of vehicles and okada and that the bridge had collapsed for over a year without government’s intervention.
He later called one Major and when Major came instead of him to talk to us as a gentleman, they started beating those guys. They beat them seriously and Odebowale was pointing those he wanted to arrest to his team, shouting arrest this man, arrest this man ,arrest this man.
This government should be friendly to the masses not being wicked. The government should come and do the bridge because we are not ready to do it again. That is how we will be looking at it.”
Another youth, said “ This is not the first time the bridge had collapsed and youths in the street rose up to do the needful. We contributed money among ourselves and rehabilitated it.
So again when we see that it has started affecting passing vehicles, we have to act. A man came up and volunteered to help with his money to rehabilitate it and we all stood by those working on the bridge.
Odebowale just alighted, We never knew who he was and before we knew it he had called his team. They came and started beating those working on it”
Reacting, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Funmi Odunlami, who confirmed the arrest to Positive fm said the suspects were arrested by the state task force and had been released.
All efforts to get the reaction of Dr Odebowale were unsuccessful as he did not pick calls put through to his mobile phone and did not reply both SMS and Whatsapp messages sent to him over the allegations.