From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja The decision to retain health maintenance organisations (HMOs) as part of the country’s health insurance programme caused a major disagreement between the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services and the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman. Usman, at the just concluded two-day investigative hearing…
Young and handsome with a gentle and friendly mien, Sunday Adeyemo would easily pass for a prey to any unwary, swashbuckling bully. What more? The fair-skinned ‘gentleman’ looks shy and can be extremely humble and unassuming when meeting people.
But, that is Sunday Adeyemo, the private citizen.
Across the major cities and several towns of the Southwest, however, the approach of the same person as Sunday Igboho, by which, he is more popularly known particularly within the political circle in the region, especially in Oyo and Osun states invokes terror and trepidation. The name is a household name, but, is mostly known for striking fear and terror in the minds of people.
To many, the owner of the name is a political thug, a mercenary who is often associated with violence and fights. At motor parks and markets, the fear of Sunday Igboho and his boys is the beginning of wisdom.
Believed to possess powerful charms, so many myths are woven around him. One of these was that when leading his boys to ‘war’, he only needed to stretch forth his hand into the air to conjure a double-barrel of which he was reputed to be adept at using.
Sometimes he goes about with a live snake coiled around his neck that further reinforces the air of mystery and invincibility around him.
Such was his dread and power that he was also revered by the strongman of Ibadan politics, the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu, to whom he was an ally, but later fell apart with over the impeachment of former Oyo State governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja.
His intrepid opposition to moves to remove Ladoja from power pitched him against the forces led by Adedibu, who earned the epaulets as the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) ‘garrison commander’ and marshal of political violence that hallmarked the era.
He was unwavering in his support for Ladoja, whom he served as body guard in the latter’s further quest for reelection to the Government House in 2011 and 2015.
A chieftain of the Accord Party, Igboho, so named after his hometown on the northern fringe of Oyo State, in this encounter with TUNDE THOMAS, gave insights into his persona. He talked at length about his relationships and experiences with key political figures in the impeachment saga including former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ladoja, late Adedibu, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, who he alleged ordered his arrest and detention in Abuja to pave way for Ladoja’s removal, allegedly on the instruction of Obasanjo.
The politician also spoke about the role allegedly played by Obasanjo, and Adedibu in the illegal impeachment, why he parted ways with Alao-Akala, and his relationship with the current Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
Among a host of other issues, he denied allegations of violent crimes imputed to him, saying he was just a gentleman, who abhorred and fought against injustice.
There are speculations that you’ve abandoned your political benefactor and leader, former governor Rashidi Ladoja, and the Accord Party to join APC. How true is this?
There is no iota of truth in that report. It is a tissue of lie. I still remain a loyal and committed member of Accord Party. Senator Rashidi Ladoja still remains my hero and political leader. Our aspiration is for the Accord Party to assume the mantle of leadership in Oyo State through democratic process. I have nothing to do with APC and I and Governor Ajimobi are not on the same page politically. But, I give kudos to him for bringing peace and security to Oyo State after the period of political crises that rocked the state during the Ladoja and Alao-Akala years.
Was it as a result of your refusal to join APC that Governor Ajimobi reportedly ordered your arrest on claims that you and your boys were disturbing the peace of the state?
Nobody ordered my arrest. It is all part of the propaganda against me by my political enemies. I’m not evil they portrayed me as being. It is all rumour, nothing but rumour. Why should I be arrested and detained? Did I kill anybody? What I can remember is that some people were spreading falsehood using my name that Sunday Igboho and his boys were disturbing some construction workers at a site where a road project is being undertaken. They brought that report to me, and I laughed. Am I that poor or starving that I should now send people out to go and extort money? Far from it. To God be all the glory, I’m comfortable by all standards, and I’m not starving.
In my area here in Ibadan, I’m a community leader in Mosorire community in Oluyole Local Government area of Ibadan, and at present, I’m constructing an access road which is also to be tarred, with me bearing all the expenses. I’m here in my home, living my normal life and nobody has ordered my arrest.
Your name, Sunday Igboho connotes terror to some people. At the height of political disagreement and subsequent violence between supporters of late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, and former governor, Rashidi Ladoja, your name featured prominently. As leader of Ladoja’s political thugs, you allegedly committed a lot of atrocities. What’s your reaction to that?
It is true I was a key witness and also a key player in the political developments of that period. I was an insider. Former governor, Rashidi Ladoja, was my leader, my political boss. I rose and fought on his behalf when late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, wanted to carry out their illegal impeachment of Ladoja. By nature, I’m a gentleman, but I hate cheating and injustice. I have my supporters who are loyal to me and who also believe in me, just as I believe in Ladoja and I was also loyal to him. Me and my supporters, who some people like to describe as Sunday Igboho’s boys, decided to fight the injustice against Ladoja.
By nature, I’m not violent, but when the other party is not only being violent, but also being openly supported by ex-President Obasanjo, to the extent of even using police against Ladoja and his political interests, we had no choice than to fight back. When we decided to fight back, people now said Sunday Igboho and his boys were violent. When you give me a dirty slap, do you expect me to turn the other cheek to you or to run away? God forbid, I always fight for my right and I’m fearless and bold.
Were you just defending Ladoja just on account of loyalty, or did you try to find out what was wrong between him and his estranged godfather, Adedibu?
God is my witness. I believe in fairness. God again is my witness if I lied, when they were hatching this impeachment plot against Ladoja, they knew that I would be an obstacle to their plan, therefore Adedibu sent for me. Adedibu said I should meet him at Kakanfo Inn, here in Ibadan and when I got there that night, already seated with Adedibu was the then Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Jonathan Johnson.
Adedibu later started talking, but at a point, I told him to tell me the particular offence Ladoja committed. After hesitating a while, Adedibu told me that they had concluded plans to impeach Ladoja, because Ladoja was stingy and that he was not giving enough from monthly security votes he was collecting from the Federal Government.
At this point, I now told Baba Adedibu that our own private investigations, as youth leaders in the party, had revealed that he was collecting N50 million monthly from Ladoja to take care of his political interests and other things. When I made this revelation, Adedibu was shocked, but he didn’t deny collecting N50 million monthly from Ladoja. I now told Adedibu that if he insisted on collecting more, where did he expect Ladoja to get fund to work and deliver on his electoral promises to the people. Adedibu looked surprised and baffled.
But he later gathered himself together, and then pointedly told me that whether I liked it or not Ladoja would go. He further told me to cooperate or they would look for ways to get me out of the way, in order to get Ladoja out of government. At a point, he put the phone in the room on speaker, and shortly after, he started discussing with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Adedibu later told me that he and Obasanjo had agreed that I should be compensated very well in order for me to abandon Ladoja. Adedibu thereafter offered me N50 million, I rejected it, he later increased it to N100 million, but I still rejected it. Baba Adedibu later asked me to name any price of my choice, but I still stood my ground that I would fight against Ladoja’s impeachment.
At this point, he told me he and Obasanjo had agreed that Ladoja must be impeached by all means and at all cost, and that they would find ways of getting me out of the way. But before I left him that night, I told Baba Adedibu that they would not find it easy to achieve their diabolical plan.
In spite of your resolve to scuttle the impeachment move, the plotters eventually had their way, what happened?
After my encounter with Baba Adedibu that night, I clearly knew that the battle line had been drawn. I knew that we, loyal supporters of Ladoja had to be vigilant. I also expressed my views to Ladoja, that this issue was no longer a child’s play.
In spite of the police security around the governor, political thugs from Baba Adedibu’s side continued their violent attacks on Ladoja and his interests. There was a time that they invaded his private residence in Ibadan and killed some of his supporters, but surprisingly the police, who were supposed to be neutral, were already taking sides with Baba Adedibu’s camp.
I remember clearly that the top police officer that came to inspect the scene of the attack, in his comments, despite seeing the dead human bodies, said he could only see dead cows and blood flowing from the dead cows. With what was happening, I and my supporters increased our own surveillance around Ladoja, and during that period my life was clearly in danger as those notorious thugs working for Baba Adedibu had declared me a dead man.
However one day, that was in January 2006, I just woke up, that should be January 11, 2006, I saw a team of policemen from Abuja, and they told me that the then Inspector-General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, ordered them to bring me to Abuja.
It was the following morning when I was in far away Abuja in police custody that Adedibu’s thugs led by Lateef Salako, a.k.a Eleweomo, struck, when they invaded Government House, Agodi and State House of Assembly, and it was under the watch of these political thugs that Ladoja was illegally impeached by a minority of the lawmakers loyal to Baba Adedibu. Majority of the lawmakers who are loyal to Ladoja had to take over and run for their lives.
It was later I realized that my arrest and detention by Ehindero, who, I later learnt, acted on Obasanjo’s instruction, was to pave way for the illegal impeachment of Ladoja. If I had been around, I would have confronted Adedibu’s thugs with my own men and it would have been mother of all battles. The second day after Ladoja was illegally removed, the police authorities in Abuja freed me from detention without any charge, but by then the deed had been done.
How do you see the role played by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in the impeachment saga?
Obasanjo was clearly biased against Ladoja. I wouldn’t know why the President of the whole nation decided to be partisan to the extent of supporting illegality – I said illegality, because even the apex court in the land, Supreme Court, declared that impeachment illegal – the court after 11 months of legal battle declared Ladoja’s impeachment illegal, and consequently sacked Adebayo Alao-Akala, Baba Adedibu’s puppet, as the governor of Oyo State. Honestly I believe Baba Obasanjo owed not only Senator Rashidi Ladoja, but the entire nation an apology for supporting illegality. Obasanjo used police to intimidate and harassed me for supporting Ladoja but I refused to succumb to their blackmail.
Was your refusal to buy into the plot to impeach Ladoja the reason you parted ways with ex-governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala?
Ladoja is an upright man. You need to be close to him to know the type of person that he is. He was determined as a governor to make a change in Oyo State, but surprisingly, Baba Adedibu and some of his associates insisted that he should be diverting state funds to private pockets. To me, that’s unfair and that was one of the reasons I supported Ladoja.
On Alao-Akala, you know he was deputy to Ladoja, and I was working and serving both of them as a loyal party member. It was later when Alao Akala was exposed as being part of the plot against his boss, that I decided to keep my distance from him.
How can I associate or work with a betrayer? No, it is not possible. I’ve always associated with truth, goodness, equity and justice. Forget whatever name my political enemies may be calling me. I have no skeletons in my cupboard and that’s why I’m walking the streets a free man. We all know what has happened to those political thugs Adedibu and Alao-Akala used to try to destroy us then. God that I served is more powerful than them – where are those thugs today that Adedibu and Alao-Akala used to launch several violent attacks on me? Some of them are dead, while some have been jailed and are now languishing in the prison. That’s the Law of Karma for you, whatever a man sows, he will surely reap. Ex-gov. Alao-Akala tried to destroy me, but he failed.
There was a time some thugs invaded my house allegedly on the instruction of Alao-Akala, but I narrowly escaped being killed, but those thugs killed my junior brother, Taofeek, a 300 level university undergraduate then – Alao-Akala tried everything to woo me to his side, but, I refused. I insisted on the truth, and for this, the then illegal government of Alao-Akala persecuted me, and even when he later became a governor again, because he had secured PDP’s ticket when Ladoja was reinstated by the Supreme Court, he continued to unleash terror. But thank God I survived, and here I’m today telling my story.
Why do you still remain loyal to Ladoja even years after he had left office?
My support for Ladoja is based on principle. It is a matter of principle. I was impressed with the way he resisted pressure from Baba Adedibu and others that he should be bringing government money as if it is free money. I considered anybody who could look Adedibu in the face and resist him as a hero. Baba Adedibu was so powerful to the extent that only few, very few could look him in the face and say NO to him.
What is your relationship with the present Governor Ajimobi?
We are not members of the same political party. He is APC while I belong to Accord Party. But one thing I salute Ajimobi for is his ability to restore peace and security to Oyo State after many years of political violence. If you can recollect, at a time Ibadan was a theatre of war between Ladoja’s supporters and Baba Adedibu and Alao-Akala’s political thugs. They wanted to run us out of town, so they can continue their evil ways unchallenged. But, we resisted them. I became a bone in Alao-Akala’s throat. He thought he could use political thugs to crush us, but we resisted them. That was the period my name became so popular to the extent that if the name Sunday Igboho is mentioned, some people will start shivering. But I’m a man of peace. I only fight injustice which I strongly detest.
Before, it was very risk to pass through such places in Ibadan like Iwo road, Olomi, Beere, Agodi Gate in broad daylight, because of frequent fighting and clashes between my men and thugs of ex-gov. Alao-Akala, whom he funded to be terrorizing opponents of his government. But, I resisted them and they couldn’t subdue my men.
At a time, it was reported that you were declared wanted by the police in connection with some crimes, what was your offence and how far with the case now?
It is all part of the propaganda by my political enemies. I’m a free man. My hands are clean, I make bold to declare here through this medium. And I challenge anybody with proof that I killed anybody or committed any atrocity to come out publicly with evidence to prove it. I’m not being investigated by any security agencies.
All those wicked lies and rumour against me were handiworks of political thugs of ex-governor Alao-Akala. Some of the ex-governor’s supporters also described me as a terror and thug, but I’m none of these. I’m a politician and grassroots mobiliser, and that’s why different political leaders always try to court me. I’m not into anything evil.