EDO State chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have disagreed over Saturday’s political mutiny at the palace of the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II.
APC, through the Vice Chairman, Media and Publicity Committee of its National Campaign Council, Patrick Obahiagbon, yesterday at a news conference at the office of the campaign organisation of its governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at Government Reservation Area (GRA), Benin, alleged that Governor Godwin Obaseki planned to arrest and detain former national chairman of the party Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
It also alleged that the governor planned to cripple the businesses of a billionaire entrepreneur, Capt. Hosa Okunbo, an indigene of Edo State, presumed to be backing Ize-Iyamu, and to also arrest and detain other APC leaders, ahead of the September 19 election.
PDP, reacting through its Chairman, Edo 2020 Campaign Council, Chief Dan Orbih, who is also the national vice chairman, Southsouth, of the party, alleged that APC leaders sponsored the attempt to eliminate some governors of PDP and other leaders of the party that were in Benin on Saturday for the kick- off of Obaseki’s re-election campaign, which was marred by gunshots, leading to injury of 10 persons.
APC national campaign council further alleged that Obaseki was plotting to subvert the September 19 poll through attacks and illegal detainment of its party leaders and members.
It noted that Oshiomhole would be arrested and detained over trumped-up charges on the eve of the election, adding that Okunbo’s farm would be torched, in continuation of the assault on his reputation and businesses, for refusing to back the second term agenda of Obaseki.
The national campaign council of APC blamed Edo governor and the PDP for the violence that broke out on Saturday in Benin, which led to the hospitalisation of several people for gunshot injuries.
It accused Obaseki of setting conscripted thugs and cultists on protesters who expressed their rejection of him and his invitation of ‘tax-collectors’, who were feasting on Edo’s treasury.
The national campaign council said: “Information reached us from sources in Obaseki’s government, who are disillusioned with Edo governor’s nefarious acts that Obaseki has plotted and perfected a criminally-appalling initiative, aimed at subverting the will of the people.
“On the back of conscripting renowned cultists and providing them official cover and funding for wanton violence, under the guise of aides’ appointments, Obaseki is planning to use COVID-19 as a ruse to neuter grassroots leaders of our party on the eve of the governorship election, by abducting and detaining them in isolation centres-this way, disenfranchising them and forestalling the political force they will deliver, in pursuant of APC’s victory.
“Having read the handwriting on the wall that he faces a monumental defeat and an electoral opprobrium on September 19, Obaseki aims to illegally strike what he deems the head and important political leaders of our party, with the hope of subverting the election.
“Names of prominent leaders of the APC have been compiled to be dealt with, intimidated, harassed, terrorised, physically assaulted and lacerated by state-sponsored goons.”
APC’s national campaign council also condemned the anomalies and acts of political ‘desperadoism’ as direct affronts on the country’s constitution and the rule of law.
It pleaded with the police, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders to prevail on Edo governor to allow the rule of law and a level democratic playing field to hold supreme between now and the end of the governorship election.
Obaseki, through Orbih, said: “I want to place it on record that the visit (to Oba of Benin by PDP leaders) was officially communicated to the palace and the security agencies, as PDP leaders’ visit that included the party’s National Chairman (Prince Uche Secondus), members of the National Working Committee (NWC), governors of Rivers, Sokoto, Delta, and the host governor (Obaseki).
“There was no official APC event in the palace (of Oba of Benin) or anywhere in Benin that was so communicated in accordance with INEC’s guidelines. There was no official communication to the security agencies and the palace that APC was also going to have event at the palace.
“The invasion of the palace gate by armed APC youths was a well- coordinated assault by the leadership and sponsors of Edo APC to eliminate the national leadership of the PDP and democratically-elected governors of PDP that were expected to be with Edo governor.
“The action was aimed at throwing the country into crisis. The security breach must be investigated and those connected with it must be arrested and tried in accordance with the laws.
“The APC-organised attack at the palace is a political mutiny against constituted authority, capable of causing interstate conflict and war between Edo State and the affected states of the governors that were marked for elimination.
“There have been several videos in the cyberspace where the thugs have been instructed, directed and motivated to intimidate and cause chaos and mayhem. The security agencies must swing into action to bring those connected with the incident to book.
“Choosing the palace to unleash their evil plans is an abomination and a disrespect to our royal majesty and the highly-respected traditional institution. We condemn the attack and wanton destruction of PDP members’ vehicles and other property by the hooligans in broad daylight, in the vicinity of the palace of our revered Oba.”
Obaseki hailed the leaders and members of PDP and supporters for their maturity on Saturday, especially for restraining themselves from retaliation, in the face of attacks and hostilities.
He assured members that the party’s leaders would not fold their arms and watch them (PDP members) being attacked and killed, because of their support for him.