Adibe Emenyonu in Benin-city
The lingering crisis between the feuding factions of the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Party (APC) thursday turned bloody as a top member of the party, Mr. Henry Idahagbon, claimed that he narrowly escaped death when gunmen suspected to be hired assassins attacked him in his office.
Idahagbon, a former Edo State attorney-general and commissioner of justice, said the gunmen who came in three vehicles fired several shots at his office located on Siluko Road, near the popular Oliha Market in Benin-city.
He said he was in his office attending to his clients when he was jolted by the volley of bullets which were aimed at his office sited on the mid-floor of the three-storey building.
Idahagbon, who has since gone underground, said he quickly dashed for the back exit through which he escaped, even as the shooting was still going on, adding that many persons were injured in the process.
While lamenting the incident, he said: “I was in my office attending to some clients when I heard the echoes of gunshots directed at my office. I immediately ran out. Thank God nobody was injured. The windows were shattered while the building is pockmarked with bullets. However, I have reported the matter to the police.
In panic, some neighbours who heard the volley of the shots, apparently from pump action rifles ran out of their shops, unlocked and fled for fear of being hit by stray bullets.
He said he immediately reported the incident to the nearby Oba Market Police station where a team of policemen were drafted to assess the extent of the damage done to the building.
One of the injured persons, who spoke to journalists, Mr. Alufa Osayiniye, said he was at the office of Idahagbon when people began to shout, and the next thing he had was gun shots and decided to dock as blood was gushing out of his head.
“I came to see our leader, Hon. Henry. Idahagbon. I was seated there with others when we heard them scattering things and shouting,” he said.
Another victim, Bruno Odaro, a surveyor with his office in the same building, said some persons in Hilux van branded with government number came “shouting: where is Idahagbon, and started destroying things around and shooting simultaneously.
When contacted through his mobile phone, the Edo State Police spokesman, Mr. Chidi Nwanbuzor, said he was not aware of the incident, adding: “I am not aware of any shooting. I just heard of it from you for the first time.”
But the Special Adviser to the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the disruption of peace in Edo State by some APC leaders is taking a dangerous dimension
He said the complaint of an alleged attack by one of the leaders of the proscribed Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), Idahagbon, is the latest step in the plot to disrupt peace and safety in the state.
Osagie noted that the state government has continuously warned the dissidents in the EPM, “who are hell-bent on breaking down the law and order in the state.
“Today’s incident is another proof that members of the amorphous group are at war with themselves and the people of Edo State.”