The family of the late former Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, have apologised to the state’s Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan, after he was stopped from attending the eighth-day fidau held for the late former governor.
The deputy was on Sunday denied access into Ajimobi’s house in Oluyole Estate, Ibadan where the fidau prayer, scheduled for 11am, held amid tight security.
The family had earlier announced in a statement that the fidau prayer was a private programme.
Members of the public were urged to join the programme virtually via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook.
Olaniyan, who arrived at the residence at about 11.20 am in a convoy of five vehicles, was stopped at the gate of the road leading to Ajimobi’s residence.
The security agents manning the gate insisted that only the deputy governor’s vehicle could be allowed into the street for the prayer.
The deputy governor’s security details initially rebuffed the idea but a senior policeman intervened and the deputy governor’s vehicle was allowed in.
However, at Ajimobi’s residence, the gate was also locked. When the deputy governor’s aides introduced their principal, they were told that the gate had been locked and that the widow of the deceased, Chief Florence, was with the key.
After waiting for about 15 minutes without any solution the deputy governor left the residence.
But Bolaji Tunji, the media aide to the late Ajimobi, said in a statement that the family was not aware of the deputy governor’s plan to be present at the prayer as there was no notification.
He said, “There is a need to clarify the believed presence of the Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Rauf Olaniyan, at the 8th day prayer for Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the immediate-past Governor of Oyo State.
“The Deputy Governor arrived after the prayer had started. The event was strictly a family affair. There was a need to comply with the COVID-19 protocol as established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on social distancing. Not more than 30 people (are allowed) in a place and seats were arranged, accordingly after which the gate was shut.
“No one was aware that the deputy governor was coming as neither the advance team nor the protocol informed us. By the time we got to the gate to usher him into the sitting room, he had left. Everything happened within a space of 10 minutes.
“Through a serving senator and a former Attorney General, we tried to get in touch with him that it was not to slight him and he could sit in a private sitting room provided by the family. Unfortunately, he had left. We, however, apologise to his Excellency.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party in the state dismissed Tunji’s explanation as an untenable excuse.
The PDP, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Akeem Olatunji, said, “It was not a private family affair because Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and many others were there and the family was well informed in advance that the deputy governor would be leading the government delegation to the event.
“It was reported that the security personnel at the gate informed the government delegation that there was an order from Madam not to allow the government delegation into the venue.”
Apart from the deputy governor and some commissioners in the state, members of the All Progressives Congress in the state, religious leaders and other were also prevented from entering the premises.
In his sermon, Alhaji Muideen Bello described the deceased as a forthright person and an illustrious son of Ibadan who served the state with diligence.
Bello said, “One of the lessons to learn from the former governor is a lesson in forthrightness. He served the state for eight years with diligence. He was a committed servant-leader with a sense of focus.”
The Chairman, Muslim Community, Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, in a sermon to the family, said the former governor would be remembered for being just and fair to both Muslims and Christians in the state.
Among those at the programme were Alao-Akala, Joseph Tegbe, Seyi Adisa, Senator Teslim Folarin, APC governorship candidate in Oyo State, Adebayo Adelabu, and the lawmaker representing Itesiwaju, Kajola federal constituency at the National Assembly, Shina Peller; and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Olasupo Ayokunle.
However, a statement by the deputy governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Omolere Omoetan, said denying him access to the prayer was another act of rebuffing Governor Seyi Makinde’s hands of fellowship by the Ajimobis.
He said, “There was no truth in the family saying they were not aware that the state government delegation was at the gate because Mr Bolaji Tunji was severally called by men of the civil defence at the gate.
“Even if the deputy governor arrived when the prayers had started, it is a well-known fact in Islam that when prayers are ongoing and a male walks in, it is an indication that the prayers have received Allah’s acceptance.
“However, Raufu Olaniyan wishes to reiterate that the visit of the government delegation to the 8th day Fidau Prayers of His Excellency Senator Isaika Ajimobi was a clear demonstration on the part of His Excellency, Seyi Makinde, that the late governor is held in high regard.
“The Deputy Governor will also like to draw the attention of the Oyo state Commissioner of Police to the highly unprofessional and unruly conduct of the police personnel at the premises.” - Punch