We’ll not Be Intimidated into Negotiating with Criminals, Insists Obaseki

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• ASUU Laments Killing of Colleague in Benin

By Adibe Emenyonu in  Benin City
 

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has insisted that his government could not be intimidated into negotiating with criminals as a condition for hoodlums to stop their criminal activities in the state. 

This is as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Benin chapter, has condemned in strong terms, the killing of a senior lecturer of the university by gunmen, describing it as one death too many. 

Also, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Edo State in a statement signed by it Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, alleged that high level of crime was occasioned by the “new policy thrust” of the state government which proscribed Community Development Associations that engaged “the boys.”

 Responding to ASUU and the PDP, Obaseki assured that final touches were being put on a security architecture which would soon roll out and rein in criminals who he assured would have their days in court.

Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said that while there was no excuse for engaging in crime, the state had a better employment record than any of its peer states in the South-South region.   “I think we should allow the police to carry out their constitutional responsibility. Many people have said that the governor is the chief security officer of the state; of course, he is. 

 “But you are aware that the Federal Government is solely responsible for the administration, management and operation of the police and all other security agencies in the country. The responsibility of ensuring law and order rests squarely in the security agencies, led by the police. 

“And the police have made statement concerning the professor, that it is cult-related and they have three people in custody. So, I think that should be the narrative, instead of trying to put political colouration into it.”

Besides, Governor Godwin Obaseki in a statement has said that the state will not be forced by criminal elements and organised crime overlords to the negotiation table, stressing that law and order, as well as the liberty of the ordinary law-abiding Edo citizens and residents, were not for sale.

Obaseki called on the people to remain calm but vigilant, noting that an elaborate scheme was being finalised to rein in the orchestrators of the recent violence, bring them to justice and restore sustainable peace and safety in the state.

According to him “Edo people, the majority of whom are law-abiding, should be rest assured that the promise to restore sanity to the state have been fulfilled. The state government would never return to the old order. The oppressive actions of different groups who had been fattened over the years by extorting honest and hardworking people in the name of revenue collection have been curbed. No matter the amount of pushback from perpetrators, they remain dislodged and would not have any reason to harass honest traders, citizens, and other residents.”

He said it was regrettable that the perpetrators of criminal activities had lived on the proceeds of crime, oppression, and extortion so much so that they have forgotten how to earn a living through honest means, noting that the state government intends to teach them how to do honest work and earn a living in the process.

“We are opening up various sectors of the economy to ensure that jobs are available to both the skilled, semi-skilled and even the unskilled. We are also building vocational and technical training institutions where these people will be directed and trained for free in order to reintegrate them into the society where people live off the fruit of their daily labour in legitimate enterprises,” the governor said.

 

 

ASUU blamed the killing of its member on the high level of insecurity in the state which it said had kept citizens under siege. 

 

 

The deceased lecturer, Prof. Paul Otasowie, was shot dead in front of his residence along Ekehuan road, Benin City on Wednesday evening.

 

Otasowie, who was of the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering and a former Director of University of Benin Institute of Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme, was said to have been shot in a manner many suspected to be an assassination.

 

Although the police command Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Moses Nkombe, who responded to the killing, affirmed that three suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing, ASUU Chairman in the institution, Prof. Julius Iyasele, said, “As it were, citizens of Edo State and Nigeria at large are under siege because within the space of one or two months, a number of our colleagues have been kidnapped or murdered in cold blood. A few days ago, a colleague from Ekiti State University, who is a council chairman in one of the polytechnics in Bayelsa, was shot at by the Benin bypass.

 

“The bullet pierced through the stomach of the driver and came out from the other side. The boy was just only lucky. And they said that they had just left a police checkpoint on the bypass when it happened. I don’t know whether we have security agents in the state.

 

“Yesterday, one of our colleague’s in-law who visited at Ekiadolor was also picked by kidnappers. When they (family) went to drop the money to release the person, from the experience of the victim, the people (kidnappers) were with sub-machine guns because they had bullets strapped around them.”

 

Iyasele faulted the disbandment of Community Development Associations (CDAs) without an alternative for the dependents and called on the state government and the Nigeria Police to step up their security strategies in order to protect lives and property.

 

According to him, “The state government stopped CDAs and there is no alternative to them. These boys (CDA members) are people who are used to spending big-time money. You blocked area boys and there is no alternative; you have simply unleashed terror on the people.

 

“The actions (outlawing CDAs) but what we are saying is that you should have provided an alternative that is so simple to get.”

 

On its part, the PDP in a statement signed by it Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, alleged that high level of crime was occasioned by the “new policy thrust” of the state government.

 

It, therefore, called for collaborative efforts between government and security agencies in order to tackle the menace,

 

The statement read in part, “The ‘we-will partner-with-you’ government in Edo State should stop chasing shadows and tackle substance. The insecurity in the state is most likely a direct consequence of the new policy thrusts of this government.

 

“This advice has become imperative as our lives are no longer safe with the daily reports of kidnapping and armed robbery. No investor will come to Edo with the crime rate the way it is, especially when there seem like no effort is been made in trying to tackle it.”