Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin
The political crisis in the Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of 2020 governorship election assumed a frightening dimension weekend as youths suspected to be backing Governor Godwin Obaseki’s aspiration for a second term nearly clashed with suspected supporters of the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole in Benin City.
The venue was the residence of Oshiomhole at Okoroutun Street, GRA, Benin City.
The incident , as gathered by THISDAY, occurred shortly after Oshiomhole arrived in his house and left almost immediately to attend a ceremony.
It was alleged that the suspected supporters of Obaseki had gathered around the residence of Oshiomhole and were chanting “Oshiomhole ole,” apparently waiting for him to come out of the house not knowing he has left.
Upon getting the information, those loyal to Oshiomhole were said to have mobilised to the scene for a showdown before security operatives were said to have dispersed them.
Supporters of Oshiomhole alleged that the suspected thugs were sent by Governor Godwin Obaseki’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Taiwo Akerele who countered the allegation, claiming that he was attacked by a chieftain of the APC, Tony Adun, popularly known as ‘Kabaka,’ in Protrea Hotel, while meeting with some foreign investors.
Narrating his experience, Akerele said he just arrived from his home town where he also discovered that unknown persons burgled his house through the ceiling and their mission not known.
He said he went to the hotel at about 7p.m. Saturday, for a meeting with some foreign investors and that while the meeting was on Kabaka came and first attacked him verbally and was walking towards him when he was restrained by people around.
“And I just came from Igarra where I learnt that unknown persons entered my room through the ceiling. I have reported to the police in Igarra and when I came to Benin, I went straight to Protrea where I had a meeting with some foreign investors and I experienced the attack”
When contacted however, Adun popularly called Kabaka denied the allegation. He said they went to Protrea to see how Oshiomhole was faring after the attack in his house because he was at home when they received a call that some persons were mobilising to the house of Oshiomhole .
“We saw them when they were running away from the place before security agencies now came to barricade the street. Thank God Protrea is a world-class hotel and they cannot say that they don’t have CCTV. They should go and play it and see what transpired between us. If there is an attack and attempt of assassination as being alleged, Tony Kabaka will go in for it but there is no such attempt; I will sue them”
Chief Press Secretary to Oshiomhole, Simon Ebegbulem while confirming the incident, alleged that the attackers were sent by Obaseki who he said was desperate to get a second term as governor of the state.
He added that the attack was neutralised by APC youths who were mobilised to the national chairman’s residence. On his part, the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie said the allegation against Obaseki was false.
Osagie said he was not aware of any such attack, adding that there was no information to them that Oshiomhole was even in town.
The ruling party has called on the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammad Adamu and other relevant security outfits to investigate the ugly incident and prosecute the sponsors and attackers.
However, Oshiomhiole while addressing some youths who followed him to his house from the hotel, said there was no cause to alarm as he only came to Benin to attend a ceremony and rest, urging them to ensure there is peace in the country and Edo State.
He said “Anything that happens anywhere, they say President; so, we have to help him; we have to help to secure the whole country and in our state, we must be seen to behave well, if other people are beating drums of war, we will share the powder of peace.
“In moments like this, it is not madness for madness because many of you I see here, in 2007, you were already strong. In 2012 during my second term, you were there, 2016, many of you deployed as agents; I used to call you guys our infantry Division who protected our votes even when we were in opposition when the federal government was PDP. So, now that the federal government is APC, we have to take it easy so that there is no breach of peace anywhere in Nigeria and particularly in our state. Those people who are looking for trouble, they are like a small mushroom; if you go and take a stick to destroy a mushroom, do you need a stick to do that? How far can a snail travel? If a snail is running, what is the maximum speed of a snail? Are you going to join running after snail?
“When I was contesting in 2012, two men wore red went round town saying I will not get my second term, that they have declared war on me I called our women and said go and put on white. The red they wore is their blood, the white is our peace from that position till today by the special grace of God I am what I am. What God has willed no man can change it.
“I am very, very happy; there is no one road that I did in this great city that have been washed away; drive on Akpakava, drive on Upper Siluko, drive on 2nd East Circular, Airport road, Five Junction and other roads; the power of the truth cannot be buried by the combined weapon of the most potent armed forces in the world; the truth is more powerful than the most potent army.”
However, the Edo State Police Commissioner has denied the incident, describing it as “a lie.”
Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has called on the Police to fish out those who reportedly attacked Oshiomhole.
Omo-Agege in a statement issued yesterday by his Media Adviser, Yomi Odunuga, called on the police to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book, noting that arresting the attackers will serve as a deterrent to others who think political violence is the best way to resolve any conflicts.
“I call on the police to get to the root of the matter by prosecuting those involved in the act. It is my belief that the fine principles and ethos of democratic practice do have inbuilt mechanisms through which internal wranglings can be resolved without recourse to violence as it was the case in Edo State on Saturday,” he said.