By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, Alhaji Abubakar Umoru Akokia, yesterday attributed the attack on the state Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu, as the handiwork of hoodlum.
Odubu was allegedly attacked while on his campaign tour at Etsako West council area where he went to address party delegates at the weekend.
Meanwhile, the state Chairman of the APC, Anslem Ojezua, has appealed to the state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, to unearth those behind the attack on the deputy governor, saying “only a serious investigation will help unearth the mystery and if those involved in the attack are APC members they will be dealt with.”
Akokia who narrated the journalist in Benin City yesterday, said deputy governor came to visit us. Before he came there were hoodlums everywhere. I even asked them to leave, that the deputy governor only came to address delegates. But they said no they are his supporters. So I left them.”
According to him, “When the deputy governor came, I took him inside our, office, the crowd was chanting ‘you don win,’ ‘you don win,’ we were trying to calm them down but nobody heard us. That was when tension started. I called for open prayers and we did that, while we were doing all these inside, we were head songs outside.
But hoodlums were now shooting seriously, fortunately no life was lost. But three or four persons sustained injuries.”
Asked to clarify the rumour that people were asked not to come and received the deputy governor, he asserted that “ it is not true. The deputy governor came with large crowd and that was why we are now confused about where the shooting came from. His people were all outside. One of our delegates were even shot.
“The state chairman told all of us that we should receive all aspirants, we should give then equal treatment. The truth is that we don’t support aspirants coming with thugs or large number of people because that was what happened. But I allowed him because he is the second citizen of this state. But we tried to avoid some of these things. All the people who came there were supporters of the deputy governor and that is why we are all confused.
“They were shouting his praises.He came with a lot of security men and the Area Commander brought more men too. It is not true that he was targeted to be killed. I escorted him out and inside. When the hoodlums were making that noise, he was with me so how will they say the bullet was targeted at him. This shooting happened outside but we were inside. No body planned to kill the deputy governor.
“Today as we are talking, we told him to go to the other three local government areas, Akoko Edo and the two Owans. He should reduce the number of people in his entourage, because the cars I saw him with yesterday was more than 20 including boys, so that is the issue,” he stated.
Reacting also, APC state chairman, Ojezua said he was shocked by the report emanating from Etsako West concerning the deputy, noting that is not typical of the party.
To him, “This is the first time I am seeing this violence being exhibited. I am worried. This is the time when aspirants need to understand that this is supposed to be a brotherly contest, a family affair of the APC to pick a candidate that will fly the flag of our party, and our hope is that when the process springs up a candidate, all other aspirants are expected to line up behind him and work for the success of the party.
“But with this kind of attitude, the polity is unduly heated up, I am very worried with what I read in the newspapers, people throwing stones and mud to one another. I join the call on security agencies to get to the root of this matter so that the culprits are identified and dealt with if they are members of our party.
“I have asked the chairman of Etsako West to furnish us with detail of what transpired. I am joining everybody to call on the police to investigate this matter and deal severely with the culprits. I will appeal to our aspirants and their followers that they have to understand the spirit of this exercise. It is not a do or die affairs the aspirants must talk to their supporters. This is the time that people must assume responsibility on what comes out of their mouth.”
In similar development, Director of Strategic Research and Planning of the Odubu Campaign Organisation, Samson Osagie, who spoke un-behalf of the group, enumerated instances where a number of persons considered to be loyal to the governorship ambition of the deputy governor were illegally suspended and removed from office adding that ‘This to us is the
height of naked display of power of cruelty, animosity, intolerance and man inhumanity to man.”
He said five persons, including a Department of State Services (DSS) officer and escort policeman attached to the deputy governor, were severely injured during the attack on Odubu who went on a meet-the-delegate tour to the three local government areas of Etsako West, Central and East
According to Osagie, also a former House of Representative member, Orhionmwom/Unhumuwode federal constituency upon investigation, the organisation has been able to identified three persons who masterminded the attack and urged the security agencies to immediately unearth them and their pay masters
He posited that as ardent and firm believer in the tenets of democracy, Odubu would continue to market himself to the delegates of the APC with a view to getting them to nominate him a the standard bearer of the party and therefore called on the deputy governor’s supporters across the state not to be deterred by these happenings as the determination to pursue the Odubu for governor project has only been rekindled by the incident
Nevertheless, the police high command in Benin City has vowed not leave any stone unturned into the investigation leading to the attack on Odubu
The state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, who gave the assurance at the Odubu campaign secretariat, said the incident could have been avoided.
He said the command was working on a lead that would help the police unravel those behind the dastardly attacked on the deputy governor.