- Obaseki orders rescue operation
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The wife of the late former Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Mrs. Asana Garuba was on Saturday abducted and held captive by unknown kidnappers.
However, as at midnight yesterday, unconfirmed report had it that she had regained her freedom. And was in custody of security operatives at Okene. She is expected to proceed to Auchi by day break Sunday morning. Efforts by THISDAY to reach the PPRO, Mr. Williams Aya of Kogi State Police Command by telephone around 1am proved abortive.
The incident occurred between Kogi State and Okpella in Edo State, while Mrs. Garuba and other family members were on their way to Auchi for her husband’s burial, Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba.
Garuba, who was Speaker between 2007 and 2009, and a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), died in Abuja in the early hours of Saturday after a brief illness. He was aged 54.
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, expressed shock at the news of the former speaker’s demise and the abduction of his wife by kidnappers. In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki said a rescue operation commenced immediately the incident was reported to the security agencies in the state and the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, was working with his Kogi State counterpart to ensure the victims’ rescue.
The statement said, “Governor Godwin Obaseki is deeply saddened by this incident, which he described as distressing more so, with the passing of Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba, earlier today. He has ordered the Police Command to ensure that the kidnap victims are rescued. The Commissioner of Police has contacted his Kogi State counterpart and leading the rescue operation.”
Earlier in a condolence message, Obaseki said the death of the former speaker was a deep personal loss to him.
The governor stated, “I received the news of the passing of Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba with a heavy heart. He was an outstanding Nigerian and a good man. He worked for the good of the people and contributed his quota to the development of his immediate community and the state.
“As Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Supervising Executive Commissioner, Operations, at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Nigeria, late Garuba performed brilliantly, distinguishing himself as a true Edo son with his commitment to duty, innovativeness and sheer dexterity.
“As a politician and Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, he performed his tasks diligently, served the people meritoriously and provided sterling leadership to the legislative arm of government. He excelled in his private practice as a constitutional lawyer, bringing panache to the noble profession.”
Garuba was elected into the Edo State House of Assembly in 2003 on the platform of PDP. While in the Assembly, he served as Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters. He became Speaker in 2007.
Garuba was born in Auchi, Etsako West Local Government Area of the state, on August 23, 1965. He attended Our Lady of Fatima College, Auchi, between 1978 and 1983 before proceeding to the famous Edo College, Benin, for his Higher School Certificate, and, later, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he obtained a law degree in 1989 and was called to the bar in 1990.
Garuba was the Oshioze of Auchi Kingdom, a title conferred on him by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III. He was removed as Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly under controversial circumstances.
A devout Muslim, the former lawmaker was recently appointed as a member of the Godwin Obaseki Governorship Campaign Council. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Friends and former classmates took to the social media to mourn the passage of the two-time lawmaker after the news of his death broke. A former member of the Edo State House of Assembly, Mr. Pascal Ugbome, the World Wide President (WWP) of Our Lady of Fatima College Old Boys Association (OLOFOBA), who took to the association’s WhatsApp chat group to mourn the deceased, described him as a friend and brother.
Ugbome wrote, “Our friend, brother and passionate Olofobaite, Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba, has gone to be with the Lord. He passed on this morning. Oh God what a Loss.”
Mrs. Asana Garuba suffered similar fate about two years ago along Benin-Auchi road.