By Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin
There is outrage in Auchi Kingdom in Edo State over alleged plot by the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Hon. Phillip Shaibu, to sanction the Otaru of Auchi, His Royal Highness, Alhaji A.H. Momoh.
The plot, which was allegedly hatched in 2018, was exposed by a leaked letter dated June 19, 2018 written by Shaibu to the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in which he allegedly preferred a charge of unwholesome conduct against the Otaru.
Sources close to the development said that although there had been no love lost between the Otaru and the deputy governor who is from Jattu, a neighbouring town to Auchi, the leaked letter has ignited a royal anger.
But in a reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the deputy governor, Comrade Musah Ebomhiana told THISDAY that he cannot verify the authenticity or otherwise of the letter. He said the state is in election period where any party can come up issues to blackmail another party.
Ebomhiana argued that the letter was supposed to be an official document meant for the governor’s attention.
According to him, the state government holds traditional rulers in high esteem and will not do anything to undermine or disrespect them.
In his reaction, the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III, wondered why an issue that allegedly happened more two years ago should come up in the public domain at this period.
The Otaru who spoke through the Daniya of Auchi Kingdom, Alhaji Usman Abudah, told THISDAY that the narrative by the deputy governor was a complete twist of the facts.
He added that if not for the fact that his attention was drawn to the matter by the media, he would not have responded.
The Auchi royal father said since it was a letter that emanated from the office of the deputy governor and addressed to Governor Obaseki, he would await the governor’s
response by way of query or reprimand.
“I have not been queried by the governor and have not received any letter suggesting so,” the Otaru said.
However, concern has been raised that the plot may cause the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) and Governor Godwin Obaseki/Phillip Shaibu ticket a major setback in the form of protest votes by the Auchi people who account for substantial voter population in Edo North.
In the letter dated June 19, 2018, the deputy governor had complained to Obaseki about the “unwholesome way and manner the Otaru of Auchi, His Royal Highness, Alhaji A.H. Momoh conducted himself on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at the Ikelebe Sports Arena, Auchi, a public field during the grand reception ceremony for the Executive Chairman of Etsako West Local Government Council, Hon. Yakubu O. Musa, which I attended and represented Your Excellency.”
According to the deputy governor: “I got to the venue of the ceremony while it was underway and while exchanging pleasantries round the dignitaries and traditional rulers/chiefs, I first noticed that the Otaru of Auchi refused to reciprocate when I stretched/offered my hand to greet
“When I was requested to make my remarks at the event, I enjoined all present to always work with the council chairman to ensure success in his administration and thanked them for the support for the Godwin Obaseki-led government.
“Hardly had I sat down that (sic) the Otaru, Alhaji A.H. Momoh requested for the microphone and retorted that he ‘wants to say something’. He opened up to berate me and the government of the state that we have taken Auchi land to Jattu-Uzairue and that Auchi has been marginalised by the state government, stating that they would not accept that from anybody and that he will (sic) fight with all he had to get that land back.”
The deputy governor stated further: “He (Otaru) concluded by blaming me for the removal of a signboard erected at the transmission sub-station because it was bearing ‘Auchi’.
“In the same vein, one Alhaji Usman Abuda, the Dan Iya of Auchi Kingdom, an ally of the Otaru, was shouting at the top of his voice that the Auchi people have lost confidence in the government of Godwin Obaseki and passing uncomplimentary remarks on my person; all because of the opening of the floodgate by the Otaru.
“On this note, I rose to speak a second time and tried to correct the negative remarks made by the Otaru against me and the government by addressing him as my father, leader and friend of the government.
“While reiterating that we are a friend of the palace and maintaining that the piece of land in question neither belongs to Auchi nor Jattu-Uzairue, hence Government took over the piece of land to maintain peace and security in the Area, the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji A.H. Momoh and his chiefs walked out on me while I was still talking.”
Shaibu in the letter, observed that “the gathering at the Ikelebe Sports Arena where the Otaru chose to berate me and the state government had over 2,000 people in attendance.
“The remarks by the Otaru were full of misrepresentations and thus a calculated attempt to ridicule me and the state government in the eyes of the good people of Edo State.
“That the remarks were made purely to incite the Auchi people against me and the state government and indeed to cause a breach of (the) peace in the communities of Auchi and Uzairue.
“That the walking out on me by the Otaru of Auchi and his chief while I was still talking, correcting his allegations against me and (the) state government was unwholesome, disrespectful, ridiculous and a great show of indiscipline and unexpected of a traditional ruler of his status.”
The deputy governor concluded in the three-page letter that in the light of the above, “it is my humble opinion that the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji A. H. Momoh, who has both the official and private means to reach You Excellency, Mr. Governor or myself, was purely out to ridicule/embarrass the state government with his unwholesome conduct, which was capable of causing a breach of (the) peace in that environment and he choose (sic) this ceremony to execute the dastard (sic) act.”
He said further: “the above is submitted for your necessary further directive and action.”
There was concern that the royal father may use his significant influence to mobilise Auchi people to vote against the PDP because of the fear that the deputy governor may carry out his plot against him in his second term in office.