•Says gov told CP he did not authorise my visit
•Gov distances self from attackers
The National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday pointedly accused the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki of sponsoring thugs to attack him at the Benin Airport yesterday. He made the accusation in a late night telephone call to him to ascertain the veracity of reports making the rounds about his attack. A claim the governor had earlier denied in a press statement following the reported attack. “Yes, I was attacked by thugs sponsored by the State Governor,” he responded.
Oshiomhole then proceeded to narrate in graphic details his ordeal in the hands of thugs whom he said were acting on the governor’s directives. He also lamented the role played by the Edo State Commissioner of Police whom he accused of failing to arrest the thugs. He said he flew into Benin to honour an invitation by a member of their party, Hon. Agbonanyinma for the burial of his mother. “I actually got information that the governor was trying to prevent me from coming to Benin and that thugs were being mobilized to stop me. I called the Commissioner of Police about it and asked him to do something.”
He said he was however surprised when on his way to the airport the Commissioner of Police called him to say “he doesn’t want me to come because the governor doesn’t want me to come. I asked him why? And he said because of the situation at the airport and the number of thugs that had converged there. I said but you know the thugs, he said ‘yes’. I said; you know that they were sent by the governor, he said ‘yes’. He even said the governor’s CSO is there and one retired DSP. I said you know the thugs and the man who sent them, you also know their leaders if you cannot do anything to stop the governor because he has immunity fine, but the thugs don’t have immunity. Why don’t you arrest them? Why will you ask me instead, not to come to attend a private function because the governor does not want me to come to Benin. I told him I’m coming and that it is for him to provide necessary security.
“So, I landed in Benin. With the aid of the security personnel at the airport, I was able to get out of the plane to the lounge and proceeded to the car and the thugs were stoning my convoy. Well, I got home safe. You have seen the photographs of the vehicles.
They even had to move armoured tanks to the airport. I went to the function I came for and came back home. By the time I got home, the governor had ordered his people to use two trucks to block the road to my house. You can’t access my house from either side. My house is on a T- Junction. They blocked both roads.”
Oshiomhole accused his traducers of planning to bomb his residence at night, “I have information that they would send boys to throw bombs into the house and that no one would be able to come to my aid. With that information, I called the CP, he said yes, the governor ordered the blockade of my house because he did not authorise my visit. I told him I came on a private visit and I don’t need the Governor’s authorisation. I came to attend a burial ceremony of the mother of one of our members. Why do I need approval of the governor to attend the function? They said the governor also said that he didn’t want anybody to come and visit me in my house in the evening. But then why should people not be able to come to my house? Am in a solitary confinement? I called the Inspector General of Police who then called the CP to provide additional security for my house. It was only after the IG called the CP that he sent additional security to my house. Right now I think they are trying to tow the trucks away.”
THISDAY checks reveal the APC national chairman was in the Edo State capital for the burial of the mother of his political associate and former member of the House of Representatives, Ehiozuwa Agbonanyinma.
Oshiomhole has been having a running battle with the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, whom he helped to succeed him as governor.
A small hostile crowd, as if aware of his impending arrival, had taken positions around the airport environment. The thugs were matched by a strong detachment of security personnel drawn from the police, Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The thugs attempted to gain entry into the VIP section of the airport from the exit gate, but they were repelled by the security men who shot into the air to disperse them.
Oshiomhole was unhurt, even though one of his vehicles, a sport utility vehicle, was damaged.
Despite the hostile reception at the airport, he was received by some of his associates, led by his former deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, amid heckles by the thugs.
Oshiomhole’s associates were also quick to blame the attack on the state government, an accusation denied by the governor. The state government denied involvement in the action of the youths, saying it had no role in the incident at the Benin Airport or any of the series of anti-Oshiomhole protests in Abuja.
In a statement, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the Edo State Government had no connection with the crowd that was reported to have booed Oshiomhole.
The statement read, “It has come to our notice that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole arrived Benin today and was booed by a crowd of people. We are not directly or remotely involved in the act. We condemn insinuations that the Edo State Government is in any way involved in such an act.
“The series of anti-Oshiomhole protests across the country in the last couple of days, including those who jeered and booed Comrade Oshiomhole in Benin City on Saturday, have nothing to do with the government in Edo State. Oshiomhole, just like any other law-abiding person, is welcome into the state as long as he does not engage in any activity capable of disrupting peace and safety.
“We categorically state that we are not in whatever guise involved with those who engaged in the act against the former governor.”
The statement said the state government would continue to maintain law and order, adding that the government is committed to protecting the rights of all law-abiding citizens in the state.