The peaceful protest embarked upon by the youth of Ile-Oluji town in Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State on Monday turned bloody on Tuesday, as four people, including a policeman, were feared dead.
This followed a clash between security agents and protesters, who were calling for the removal of the traditional ruler of the town.
It was learnt that the dead and five other injured persons were hit by bullets allegedly fired sporadically by policemen, who were deployed in the palace of the embattled monarch, Oba Suulade Adedugbe, to maintain law and order.
The ugly incident, forced the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Patrick Dokumor, to relocate his office to the town for a better part of Tuesday to take charge of the crisis.
The development paralysed social and economic activities as business owners shut their doors, while employees of various public and private offices in the town suspended further interactions with customers.
It was gathered that the youth, who were mainly students of institutions of higher learning and indigenes of the town, had converged on the palace to continue the protest they started on Monday with the aim of forcing the monarch out of the town.
The increased population heightened the tension as the youth chanted war songs, warning the monarch to rescind his alleged decision to reject the siting of a federal polytechnic in the town.
Eyewitnesses alleged that the police, on getting to the scene of the protest, started shooting to scare the protesters and disperse them from the palace.
The protesters were said to have followed the patrol vehicles of the police back to their station, following which the police were said to have opened fire on them as they thought the youth wanted to attack them.
Three students were said to have been hit by police bullets, while one police officer was also said to have been mistakenly killed by another policeman, who fired into the crowd.
Two of the young men allegedly killed were students of Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, while the identity of the fourth person was unknown.
A source said, “Trouble started when the police on patrol fired tear gas at the protesting youths while youths also retaliated, a situation that infuriated the police, making them to shoot sporadically into the air.
“We also learnt that a police officer was also shot in a reprisal attack.”
Meanwhile, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr.Wole Ogodo, confirmed that his boss had gone to the town in company with other senior police officers in the command to curtail the situation.
He said no death was recorded during the incident but said the police officer, who was attacked by the mob, had been hospitalised.