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Tiny Wrists In Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children

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Police

Royal Smart remembers every detail: the feeling of the handcuffs on his wrists. The panic as he was led outside into the cold March darkness, arms raised, to face a wall of police officers pointing their guns.

 

 

He was 8 years old.

Neither he nor anyone else at his family’s home on Chicago’s South Side was arrested on that night two years ago, and police wielding a warrant to look for illegal weapons found none. But even now, in nightmares and in waking moments, he is tormented by visions of officers bursting through houses and tearing rooms apart, ordering people to lie down on the floor.

 

 

 

“I can’t go to sleep,” he said. “I keep thinking about the police coming.”

 

 

Children like Royal were not the focus after George Floyd died at the hands of police in 2020, prompting a raging debate on the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement, especially on adults of color.

 

 

 

Kids are still an afterthought in reforms championed by lawmakers and pushed by police departments. But in case after case, an Associated Press investigation has found that children as young as 6 have been treated harshly — even brutally — by officers of the law.

 

 

 

They have been handcuffed, felled by stun guns, taken down and pinned to the ground by officers often far larger than they were. Departments nationwide have few or no guardrails to prevent such incidents.

 

 

The AP analyzed data on approximately 3,000 instances of police use of force against children under 16 over the past 11 years. The data, provided to the AP by Accountable Now, a project of The Leadership Conference Education Fund aiming to create a comprehensive use-of-force database, includes incidents from 25 police departments in 17 states.

 

 

It’s a small representation of the 18,000 overall police agencies nationwide and the millions of daily encounters police have with the public.

 

 

 

But the information gleaned is troubling.

 

 

 

Black children made up more than 50% of those who were handled forcibly, though they are only 15% of the U.S. child population. They and other minority kids are often perceived by police as being older than they are. The most common types of force were takedowns, strikes and muscling, followed by firearms pointed at or used on children. Less often, children faced other tactics, like the use of pepper spray or police K-9s.

 

 

 

In Minneapolis, officers pinned children with their bodyweight at least 190 times. In Indianapolis, more than 160 kids were handcuffed; in Wichita, Kansas, police officers drew or used their Tasers on kids at least 45 times. Most children in the dataset are teenagers, but the data included dozens of cases of children ages 10 or younger who were also subject to police force.

 

 

 

 

Force is occasionally necessary to subdue children, some of whom are accused of serious crimes.

 

 

 

Police reports obtained for a sample of incidents show that some kids who were stunned or restrained were armed; others were undergoing mental health crises and were at risk of harming themselves. Still other reports showed police force escalating after kids fled from police questioning. In St. Petersburg, Florida, for instance, officers chased a Black boy on suspicion of attempted car theft after he pulled the handle of a car door.

 

 

He was 13 years old and 80 pounds (36 kilograms), and his flight ended with his thigh caught in a police K-9′s jaw.

 

 

The AP contacted every police department detailed in this story. Some did not respond; others said they could not comment because of pending litigation. Those responding defended the conduct of their officers or noted changes to the departments after the incidents took place.

 

 

 

There are no laws that specifically prohibit police force against children. Some departments have policies that govern how old a child must be to be handcuffed, but very few mention age in their use-of-force policies. While some offer guidance on how to manage juveniles accused of crime or how to handle people in mental distress, the AP could find no policy that addresses these issues together.

 

 

 

That’s by design, policing experts said, in part so that officers can make critical decisions in the moment. But that means police don’t receive the training they need to deal with kids.

 

 

 

“Adolescents are just so fundamentally different in so many respects, and the techniques that officers are accustomed to using … it just doesn’t lend itself to the interaction going well with youth,” said Dylan Jackson, a criminologist at Johns Hopkins University, who is working with the Baltimore Police Department on juvenile encounters.

 

 

 

The trauma lasts. Kids can’t sleep. They withdraw, act out. Their brains are still developing, and the encounters can have long-term impact, psychologists said.

 

 

 

“I think that when officers understand the basic core components of development and youth development — their social, emotional, physical, psychological development — it can really help them understand why they might need to take a different approach,” Jackson said.

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Training offered by the National Association of School Resource Officers includes sessions on the adolescent brain to help officers understand why kids react and respond the way they do, executive director Mo Canady said. But not every department makes use of the training.

 

Canady and other policing experts cautioned against blanket policies that would bar force against younger children.

 

 

 

“You can’t say just because a student is 12 that we’re not going to use force,” Canady said. “Most 12-year-olds you wouldn’t. But you don’t know the circumstances of everything. You could have a 12-year-old who is bigger, stronger and assaulting a teacher, and you may very well have to use some level of force.”

 

Royal, the boy in Chicago, was handcuffed for nearly 30 minutes in the cold, alongside his mother and other adults in the house. Then a police sergeant released him, and an aunt came to look after the children.

 

 

 

Royal’s brother Roy, older by one year, stood by watching, not knowing what to say or do. According to a lawsuit filed by the family, police didn’t handcuff him because “officers simply ran out of handcuffs.” Roy thought his brother was cuffed first because he looked “intimidating”: He was wearing a blue hoodie.

 

 

 

That spring, in another pocket of the South Side, Krystal Archie’s three children were there when police — on two occasions just 11 weeks apart — kicked open her front door and tore apart the cabinets and dressers searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting.

 

 

Her oldest child, Savannah, was 14, Telia was 11 and her youngest, Jhaimarion, was 7. They were ordered to get down on the floor. Telia said the scariest moment was seeing an officer press his foot into Savannah’s back.

 

 

 

Archie said her children “were told, demanded, to get down on the ground as if they were criminals.”

“They were questioned as if they were adults,” she said.

 

 

 

Now Savannah’s hands shake when she sees a police car coming. “I get stuck. I get scared,” she said.

 

 

Both families have sued Chicago police, alleging false arrest, wanton conduct and emotional distress. Chicago police did not comment on their specific cases but said revised policies passed in May require extra planning for vulnerable people like children before search warrants are served.

 

 

But the attorney for the two families, Al Hofeld Jr., said the incidents are part of a pattern and represent a specific brand of force that falls disproportionately on poor families of color.

 

 

 

“The number of cases that we have is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

 

 

 

About 165 miles (265 kilometers) due south, in the rural hamlet of Paris, Illinois, 15-year-old Skyler Davis was riding his bike near his house when he ran afoul of a local ordinance that prohibited biking and skateboarding in the business district — a law that was rarely enforced, if ever.

 

 

But on that day, according to Skyler’s father, Aaron Davis, police officers followed his mentally disabled son in their squad car and chased his bike up over a curb and across the grass.

 

 

Officers pursued Skyler into his house and threw him to the floor, handcuffing him and slamming him against a wall, his father said. Davis arrived to see police pulling Skyler — 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and barely 80 pounds (36 kilograms), with a “pure look of terror” on his face — toward the squad car.

 

 

 

“He’s just a happy kid, riding his bike down the road,” Davis said, “And 30 to 45 seconds later, you see him basically pedaling for his life.”

 

 

 

Video of the pursuit was captured by surveillance cameras outside the police department, and the family has filed a federal lawsuit against the police officers. Two officers received written warnings, according to attorney Jude Redwood. The Paris Police Department declined to comment.

 

 

“What they done to him was brutal,” Davis said.

 

Kristin Henning, director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Georgetown University’s law school, has represented children accused of delinquency for more than 20 years and said many encounters escalate “from zero to 100” in seconds — often because police interpret impulsive adolescent behavior as a threat.

 

 

 

“When you are close to the kids, you work with the kids every day, you see that they are just kids, and they’re doing what every other kid does,” she said. “Talking back, being themselves, experimenting, expressing their discomfort, expressing their displeasure about something — that’s what kids do.”

 

 

 

Meanwhile, attorneys like Na’Shaun Neal say police who use force on minors often depend on the perception that kids lie. Against an officer’s word, Neal said, “no one typically believes the children.”

 

 

 

Neal represents two boys — identified as R.R. and P.S. in court papers — who were involved in an altercation with police on July 4, 2019.

It was a few hours before midnight when a San Fernando, California, police officer stopped to ask if they were lighting fireworks, according to a complaint filed in federal court. The boys had been walking through a park, accompanied by an older brother and his dog.

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According to the complaint, the officers followed the group and told them it was past curfew; they needed to take the boys into custody.

Police said the boys were responsible for the fracas that followed, and they charged them with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest.

 

 

But then a cellphone video, taken by R.R.’s brother Jonathan Valdivia, materialized. And as was the case in the death of Floyd — who was blamed for his own death until a video showed Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pinning him to the ground with his knee to Floyd’s neck as Floyd cried out for help — Valdivia’s video told a very different story.

 

 

 

 

The video shows an officer forcing his 14-year-old brother to the ground and handcuffing him behind his back. His 13-year-old friend struggles next to him, his neck and shoulders pinned by the officer’s knees for 20 seconds.

 

 

 

“Get off of my neck! That’s too hard!” the 13-year-old screams.

A judge found the boys not guilty at a bench trial. Neal is suing the city and the police officer on their behalf.

 

 

 

The city of San Fernando has denied that officers used excessive force, maintaining that the boys physically resisted arrest.

 

 

 

“They were very confrontational and aggressive verbally,” the city’s attorney Dan Alderman said. “Unfortunately, the escalation occurred because of the conduct of the minors, not because of anything the officer did.”

 

It is worth noting that R.R. and P.S. are Latinos. Authorities say there are reasons why police officers are more likely to use force against minorities than against white children.

 

 

 

A 2014 study published by the American Psychological Association found that Black boys as young as 10 may not be viewed with the same “childhood innocence” as their white peers and are more likely to be perceived as guilty and face police violence. Other studies have found a similar bias against Black girls.

 

 

 

Tamika Harrell’s 13-year-old daughter went to a skating rink with a friend in their mostly white town outside Akron, Ohio, last summer; she was one of only a few Black teens at the crowded, mostly white rink. After a fight broke out, the girl — who was in the bathroom when the brawl began — was grabbed by an officer, roughly handcuffed and thrown into the back of a police car.

 

 

 

Harrell wondered why her kid — the Black kid — was singled out. Before, they had a good relationship with the police. But that’s all changed. The incident is still raw. Her daughter won’t go out anymore and is having trouble concentrating. The family has filed a lawsuit; the police chief there said he can’t comment on pending litigation.

 

 

 

Dr. Richard Dudley, a child psychiatrist in New York, said many officers have implicit bias that would prompt them to see Black children as older, and therefore more threatening, than they are. For instance, police are more likely to think that a Black child’s phone is a gun, he said.

 

 

 

It all becomes a vicious cycle, Dudley said. Police react badly to these kids, and to the people they know, so kids react badly to police, leading them to react badly to kids.

 

 

 

This image provided by the Chicago Police Department shows an image from video from a police worn body camera on March 15, 2019, in Chicago. Royal Smart, 8, in blue was handcuffed by police in south Chicago. Police were looking for illegal weapons and found none. No one was arrested. (Chicago Police Department via AP)

This image provided by the Chicago Police Department shows an image from video from a police worn body camera on March 15, 2019, in Chicago. Royal Smart, 8, in blue was handcuffed by police in south Chicago. Police were looking for illegal weapons and found none. No one was arrested. (Chicago Police Department via AP)

Minority children have negative everyday dealings with police and are traumatized by them. “Whatever they’ve seen police officers do in the past,” Dudley said, “all of that is the backdrop for their encounter with a police officer.”

 

 

 

So when that encounter occurs, they may be overreactive and hypervigilant, and it may appear that they’re not complying with police commands when, really, they’re just very scared.

 

 

 

The police are not thinking, “I have this panicked, frightened kid that I need to calm down,” Dudley said.

 

 

 

To Dudley and to Jackson, the Johns Hopkins criminologist, de-escalation training for police isn’t enough. It must include elements of implicit bias and of mental health, and it must be integrated into an officer’s everyday work.

 

 

 

Jackson said he’s been working very closely with Black kids in Baltimore, and the first thing he hears often is that they can’t go talk to an officer unless that officer is in plainclothes.

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“There is a visceral reaction,” he said. “And that’s trauma. And some of these kids, even if they haven’t been stopped over and over again, it’s embedded in the fabric of what America has been for a really long time, and they know what that uniform represents in their community.”

 

 

Some of the cases have prompted changes. In the District of Columbia, for example, police officers now do not handcuff children under 13, except when the children are a danger to themselves or others.

 

 

 

The policy was revamped in 2020 after incidents in which two children were arrested: When a 10-year-old was held in a suspected robbery, authorities said that police had correctly followed protocol in handcuffing the child, but then a few weeks later police handcuffed a 9-year-old who had committed no crime.

 

 

Age-specific force policies are rare, according to Lisa Thurau, who founded the group Strategies for Youth to train police departments to more safely interact with kids. She said at least 20 states have no policies setting the minimum age of arrest.

 

 

 

Without explicit policies, “the default assumption of an officer is, quite reasonably, that they should treat all youth like adults,” Thurau said.

 

 

The Cincinnati Police Department also changed its use-of-force policy after an officer zapped an 11-year-old Black girl with a stun gun for shoplifting. The department’s policy allowed police to shock kids as young as 7 but changed in 2019 to discourage the use of such weapons on young children.

 

 

Attorney Al Gerhardstein, who represented the girl and helped petition for policy change, said the pattern of force he found against kids of color in the city raised alarm bells for him. Records he obtained and shared with the AP show that Cincinnati police used stun guns against 48 kids age 15 or younger from 2013 to 2018. All but two of those children were Black.

 

 

But in most departments, there is little discussion around children and policing and few options available to parents aside from a lawsuit. If a settlement is reached, it’s often paid by the city instead of by the officers involved.

 

 

 

In Aurora, Colorado, for example, a video of police handcuffing Black children went viral. The video showed the girls, ages 6, 12, 14 and 17, face down in a parking lot. The youngest wore a pink crown and sobbed for her mother. Another begged the police, “Can I hug my sister next to me?”

 

 

 

Police said they couldn’t get cuffs on the youngest because her hands were too small.

 

 

 

Their mother, Brittney Gilliam, was taking them to the nail salon. She was stopped by police because they believed she was driving a stolen car. She was not; she had Colorado plates and a blue SUV. The stolen car had Montana plates.

 

 

Officials said the officers had made mistakes, but they remained on duty. The officers did not face any criminal charges, and there have been no significant changes to their policies when it comes to children.

 

 

 

The family has since filed a lawsuit.

The family of X’Zane Watts also filed a lawsuit in Charleston, West Virginia, after a 2017 incident that began when police mistakenly suspected the eighth grader of a burglary.

 

 

 

X’Zane said he was playing in an alley near his home with his 2-year-old cousin when three white men in plainclothes got out of their car and started running toward them with weapons drawn, shouting obscenities. They chased him into his house and put a gun to his head, slamming him to the ground.

 

 

 

His mother, Charissa Watts, saw it happen from the kitchen. She didn’t know they were police. Neither did X’Zane.

 

 

 

“The wrong flinch, they could have shot him,” she said. “The wrong words out of my mouth, they could have shot me.”

 

 

 

In the years since, Charleston ushered in a new mayor and a new police chief. They pointed to changes they have made: banning some weapons and chokeholds, requiring body cameras and offering more mental health and de-escalation training.

 

 

 

“Since I became chief of police, we have worked to review policies and provide our officers with the tools they need to keep all our residents and visitors safe — but together we can always do more,” Chief Tyke Hunt said.

 

 

 

The Watts family sued, charging that officers profiled X’Zane. They reached a settlement in 2019.

 

 

 

The year after the incident was difficult, X’Zane said. His elbow, injured in the altercation, kept him from playing football; he was angry and distracted. The family moved across town to escape the memories of that day.

 

 

 

Today, X’Zane is doing much better. He hopes to join the U.S. Air Force. And he’s been able to put the incident behind him — to a point.

 

 

“It has put a longtime fear in me,” he said.

     COLLEEN LONG
     CAMILLE FASSETT

OPINION

Ekiti 2022: How The Aspirants Stand For Now

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By Gboyega Adeoye

Come Saturday, January 22, 2022, the battle for the destiny of Ekiti State, also known as the “Fountain of Knowledge”, will kick off with the primary elections of the All Progressives Congress.

The primary election will decide who picks the flag of the ruling party for the governorship election which has been fixed for June 18, 2022 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Already, political activities in Ekiti are gaining audible volume as some aspirants in the ruling party have been signifying intention to contest the Ekiti number one seat. And because Ekiti has been a state where succession has always been a hard nut to crack, a lot is expected from the aspirant that will break the jinx of inconsistency in governance to ensure continuity this time.

Investigation has revealed that the ruling APC is divided into two major factions in Ekiti State, with a fraction loyal to the incumbent governor, christened “Tokantokan” holding sway for the moment while the other, which seem to be in the majority are venting their anger under the South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA). The SWAGA group are uniting to present a single candidate they plan to rally round to win the January primary and so take away power from the Tokantokan group, which they view to be vicious and vindictive. The SWAGA says it wants to restore order for the party to stand.

Also, in preparation for the battle ahead, different parties are already gearing up for the primaries which will eventually throw up their party flag bearers. Even though PDP has been out of power in Ekiti State, the State remains a strong PDP State and dominant too, with several frontline and influential politicians.
The air of zoning is also blowing ferociously across major parties, PDP inclusive. Major personalities in the party like Senator Dayo Adeyeye, Dr Oluwole Oluyede, Senator Tony Adeniyi, Abiodun Aluko from the South, are rooting for a shift of power to the southern part of the state in the coming election. Several other notable politicians as well as influential party leaders are receptive to this idea and have also alluded to this fact in their recent comments. Hence, in the interest of justice, equity, inclusiveness and popular demand, both APC and PDP will much likely uphold zoning as a factor and go south.

It therefore follows that Sen. Dayo Adeyeye, Dr Oluwole Oluyede, Congressman Olufemi Bamisile, are top among contenders coming from the southern Ekiti which has not produced a governor since 1999. They will slug it out with Biodun Oyebanji, (Central), the taunted favourite of the incumbent government. The three major contenders are from the south by birth, with requisite qualifications and achievements.

However, politics is nothing without principles. Politics is about integrity and fairness. Therefore, on the part of the party, politics should reflect inclusion and balance. It is an art of compromise in a bid to aggregate all interests. Nobody takes it all.

Ekiti APC has been haunted by a division in the party, in the lingering winner takes all game that is walking tall and on four legs, This is made worse by the inability of the leadership to harmonize all interests and harness them properly for coming elections. As it stands, stakeholders who are aggrieved with the process leading to the primaries may work against the party in the election proper, hence the need for the party to get its acts together, so that the current victory will not go the way of the past.

Among the four major contenders for the Oke-Ayoba Government House in the coming polls, only Femi Bamisile has come out boldly to declare his interest. Both Senator Dayo Adeyeye and Dr Oluwole Oluyede seem to be waiting for the verdict of SWAGA, their constituency, on who to bear the flag for the contest. Biodun Oyebanji, seems to be the favoured candidate of the Tokantokan group, loyal to the incumbent governor and may be the adopted aspirant from the government circle.

How they stand:

Dr Oluwole Oluyede

He is a politician from Ikere Ekiti and a Medical Doctor with interest in Emergency Medicine, Rural and Remote Medicine. He runs the Gnowangerup Shire Medical Practice in Gnowangerup W/A Australia and he is Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioner (RACGP). Dr Oluyede appears to be the beautiful pride of APC, with a lot of popular appeal and an electrifying personality that warms up a room by his sheer presence. He is for a fact, the most experienced in public service among all the aspirants. In terms of international contacts and network, he is well positioned and ranks high. He is arguably the only candidate coming in to the contention on the strength of his achievements for his people with his personal resources.

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And when he set out to transform his rural rustic community and make it a city shinning on the hill, politics was not even in his mind. It was sheer selfless love. Oluyede invested vastly in agriculture in his hometown and is also venturing into hospitality and education sector with landmark touch. Though not too long in the political arena, he has already acquainted himself with the pros and cons of Ekiti political process, building bridges with power players and making them buy into his vision for the party and for the State. Ekiti has many political philanthropists, people who indulge in the act of giving because they curry for votes. But Dr Oluyede is an example of a philanthropist in the true sense of the word, sparing no cost in his avowed mission of developing his community and empowering its human capital with his personal funds, while expecting nothing in return. He also appears to be the joker of Ekiti abroad, who find in him the right person to prove the capacity and competence of Ekiti in diaspora. Furthermore, the fact that he remains untainted by the murky waters of the Nigerian politics is a plus to his candidacy. He comes without any baggage, unfettered and free from any soiled past. Aside the fact that he is a self-made man; he has no Godfather and is self-financed, and therefore has no strings that will impede his ability to deliver on the job and affect his mission. Since joining the SWAGA, Dr Oluyede has been one of the biggest financiers of the group.

Because of his independent mind, he evokes fear among other contenders in other political parties because he is at home with the masses at the grassroots, the Ekiti religious class and the elites. His ideology hinges richly on hard work, which to him is the spirit the Ekiti people need to adopt to lift them out of perpetual bondage of poverty and lack. He looks forward to entering the State House and change the current orientation of the people and lift them from present state of peasantry to a position of honour where dignity and self-worth count.

If SWAGA decides to present a consensus candidate for the primary election, Dr Oluyede’s chances are very high because he is largely seen as a neutral candidate without ties to any party bloc, and with the force, the means, the energy and the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the party and the people at the elections and emerge victorious.

Senator Dayo Adeyeye

He is a fine gentleman, a lawyer and journalist who understands and embodies the principle of grassroots politics. Of the four, he is the most experienced politician. Adeyeye’s political journey began as a pro-democracy activist at National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which was a frontline campaign against military rule during the dark days of military interregnum.

He was earlier Director of Publicity for Falae for President Campaign Organisation in 1992 and later became an Adviser on Policy and Press Matters, MKO Abiola for President Campaign Organisation in 1993.

Sequel to these, he was the National Publicity Secretary of the Pan Yoruba Soco-political group, Afenifere, in 2001, and then became the Publicity Secretary for Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 2004. In 2006, he wanted to be governor of Ekiti State and was an aspirant in the AD for the governorship ticket. The party became the Action Congress of Nigeria, but he was beaten to the second place by current governor of Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi, in controversial and disagreeable primaries.

Sen. Adeyeye and 12 other members of the ACN defected to the PDP after their grievances were unresolved. Thus, began his sojourn in the PDP.

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As a member of the PDP, he was appointed Minister of State for Works by the Goodluck Jonathan administration. He served in the administration until its expiration in 2015.

It was the view of the PDP leaders in Ekiti that his departure from the party over his ambition to be governor in 2018, was both wrong and unfair, given that he had benefited so much from the party, even more than he could have benefited from the other parties.

His crossing to the APC was compensated with a Senatorial reward. But the court later declared his opponent in the last Ekiti South Senatorial election, Biodun Olujimi, as the validly elected senator for the district.

Adeyeye stood tall as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some party members are of the opinion that he would be more suiting for the Senate, come 2023. He only joined the party in 2018 when his governorship ambition was aborted by the maverick governor, Ayo Fayose, who was hell bent on fielding his deputy, Kolapo Olusola, as the PDP flagbearer for the 2018 governorship election and so is not trusted by a section of the party, enough to be voted the flagbearer of the party.

Sen. Adeyeye, in spite of the pleas and promises made by the leaders of PDP, led by no less a person than the former Senate President, David Mark, had walked away from the party to pitch his tent with the APC, in a bid to have his pound of flesh, so many believed. He was willing to forego his governorship ambition, provided he could stop the PDP from winning the governorship election. That was his perceived mission to the APC.

As it is with politics in Nigeria and with Nigerian politicians, it is about personal interest. The party is a vehicle to accomplish and advance that interest. Once the party appears to have a flat tyre, it is abandoned for another vehicle that would take you to your desired destination. The Ise Ekiti born Senator had been a PDP man. At a time, he was its spokesman, serving as the National Publicity Secretary for the Ahmed Makarfi group of the PDP during its crisis. For him to have the trust of the majority of APC members would be difficult

Adeyeye’s plight is not altogether strange. He will take a cue from a few of his colleagues who had suffered the same fate. And as a loyal member of the APC, he might be considered for other appointments.

The Ekiti people are the ones in need. Whether Oluyede or Adeyeye, their interest remains the most important and that is what should be served by SWAGA.

Hon Richard Olufemi Bamisile

Olufemi Bamisile (BAFEM) is currently a member of the Federal House of Representatives for the Ekiti South 2 and the first aspirant to come out to declare his interest for the Ekiti number one seat among APC contestants. He is a former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly in the third parliament as member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was also among the candidates for the All Progressives Congress at the Ekiti gubernatorial election for 2018.

Ever since he declared his interest, Bamisile has not hidden the fact that he was coming to power to consolidate on the legacy of the incumbent Dr Kayode Fayemi.

Bamisile, who is a former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, vied for the APC gubernational primary held in April 5, 2018 and came fourth out of 33 contestants.

He is also an experienced politician, who contested the House of Representatives seat in 2004 and lost to Mrs Biodun Olujimi. He later contested for the House of Assembly seat to represent Ekiti East Constituency 1 in 2007 on the platform of the PDP and won.

He became the Speaker of the House between June 6, 2007 and 2009 before he resigned during a protracted crisis with his colleagues.

Coming this time, Bamisile said his mission is to fast-track development in Ekiti, by expanding the scope of policy thrust initiated by Governor Fayemi, centred around good governance, agriculture and food security, education and Human capital development, health and human services, among others. Bamisile maintained that though, he was not an advocate of zoning, the idea of allowing the Southern part of the state to assume the governorship seat in 2022 after 23 years of unbroken democratic rule, was apt and equitable.

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In spite of his experience, the federal lawmaker may not make meaningful impact in coming primary for his dual partisanship and political baggage incurred in past political undertakings.

Abiodun Oyebanji

Abiodun Oyebanji is the incumbent secretary to the state government (SSG). He is a former university lecturer and had previously served as chief of staff during the administration of Niyi Adebayo. He was also the commissioner for budget and economic planning during Fayemi’s first term. To many politicians in Ekiti State, Oyebanji is seen as a political interloper, who has in all his political life been leaning on godfather to float. As an ardent “Adeniyi Boy”, it came as a surprise when news first filtered out that he is being considered to fly the kite for the Tokantokan group. It is believed that supporting Oyebanji would mean Governor Fayemi is ceding the control of state power to former governor Adeniyi, who has been the political life-support for Oyebanji, a la carte. But recent revelations have confirmed that there are more to his selection than meet the ordinary eyes.

There are some undercurrents, suggesting that the wife of the Ekiti State governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, deliberately set up the machinery to displace her husband in the political power game in the State by tipping Oyebanji for the number one job.

The move, which is already tearing the Tokantokan group apart, has pitched a majority of the caucus against the governor, who has been found to have ceded the leadership of the party affairs to his wife, as a result of inadequate attention to governance.

This has further polarized the Ekiti APC and decimated it to the Erelu Bisi Fayemi block supporting Oyebanji, the SWAGA block led by former minister of State for Works, Sen Dayo Adeyeye, the Kayode Fayemi block, which is yet to endorse any aspirant and a floating block known as ‘Kogba group’, expecting a yet to be identified credible aspirant to support.

Oyebanji’s emergence removed the veil on who has been the de facto ruler of Ekiti State, all along. Erelu has been found to be more politically on ground than the husband and she is taking full advantage of that. It is believed that Erelu is nursing a Senatorial ambition to represent Ekiti North Senatorial district come 2023. She is very ambitious, aggressive, and determined to unseat Sen Olubunmi Adetunbi from the senate, a seat most political observers believe should be reserved for Dr. Kayode Fayemi if his planned President ambition does not sail through.

The South is not still relenting on becoming the next governor of the state. They have other political gladiators like Hon Yemi Adaramodu, former Chief of Staff to Dr. Kayode Fayemi and now Member House of Representatives, Hon Engr Bamidele Faparusi – Fappy, Fmr Member House of Representatives and presently serving under Dr. Fayemi as the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Hon Funminiyi Afuye Former Commissioner and presently Speaker Ekiti State House of Assembly, also waiting in the wings.

Analysts believed that the political future of Dr Fayemi is bleak because the scheme of the wife, Erelu Fayemi, may rob APC the governorship seat of Ekiti State. Erelu’s move to dictate who becomes the next governor of Ekiti State after her husband will be frustrated. Endorsement from Governor Fayemi will also be a hard sell

This is indeed a trying time for the Ekiti APC. The party in power has obviously lost focus. The people are disenchanted. It is hoped that the cloudy weather settling on APC will not make PDP step in again and salvage the situation.

But the winning starts from the primaries. If APC hearkens to the voice of reason and present a candidate based on the permutations stated above, the top seat is theirs for take.

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OPINION

Ikoyi Building Collapse: Archbishop Martins Commiserates with Sanwo-Olu, Affected Families

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Sanwo-Olu

The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins has commiserated with the families of those who lost their lives and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the wake of the recent collapse of the 21-storey building on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

 

In a release signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins also sympathized with all those who sustained various degrees of injuries as a result of the collapsed building. He said such an unfortunate incident and similar cases could have been prevented with proper regulation and strict monitoring by the relevant supervisory authorities.

 

The Archbishop described the several incidents of collapsed buildings in Lagos State in recent times and other parts of the country as alarming and called for closer monitoring of those involved in the construction industry so as to curb the use of inferior materials and other unprofessional practices often associated with the industry practitioners.

 

He called on regulatory agencies to reject the culture of compromise on standards which ultimately undermines the integrity of buildings and result in avoidable death and injury.

The Prelate welcomed the idea of a three-day mourning period and hoped that it would make us reflect on the value of human life so that no one would engage in practices and activities that would jeopardise human life and dignity anymore.

 

He expressed delight that the government set up an independent Panel of inquiry made up of professionals from outside of government circle as that would inspire the sort of confidence that the result of their inquiry may throw up.

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He said: “We hope that as the panel unravels the immediate and remote causes of the collapse, it would also identify ways of ensuring that we do not experience such disasters again while those culpable for this one would be brought to book.”

 

The Archbishop prayed for the happy repose of the souls of the dead, quick recovery for the injured and consolation for the families and friends who are in mourning at this time.

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OPINION

Politicising Tragedy

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Sanwo-Olu

The sad occurrence of the collapse of a 21 storey building in Lagos was a monumental disaster. Certainly the loss of more than 20 lives up to-date is a painful human tragedy.

 

All attention must be focussed on what happened, why it happened and how can future occurrences be prevented all together!.
Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, as usual of him, immediately rose to the occasion. Cut short his schedule official engagement in Rome and went to the venue straight from the airport.

Even before his arrival the General Manager in charge was immediately sent on compulsory leave. Within 24hrs the governor has visited the site and the surviving victims about twice and a technical enquiry committee of capable and highly credible professionals has been put in place to unravel whatever happened and to advice government appropriately on issues including that of culpability, negligence and possible acts of criminality.
It is widely reported that the number of floors constructed was far in excess of the actual approval.

It is mischievous if not evil for anyone to distract the public and begin to manufacture unverifiable fables not supported by reason or facts. Just confabulations tainted with politics with no other intentions but to tarnish the image and reputation of people who have dedicated their lives to the service of their people and the nation.

We sympathise with those who have lost their loved ones and those whose relations are yet to be seen or rescued.
We will enjoin the governor of Lagos state and his hard working officials not to be deterred but rather to continue doing the good works this government has become known and severally commended for.

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Signed
Biyi Adebiyi
Spokesperson Advocate for Good Governance

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