Jethro Ibileke‎/Benin

Dr Pius Odubu, Edo State deputy governor

Dr Pius Odubu, Edo State deputy governor

Edo state government has described an alleged attack on the person of the state deputy governor, Dr. Pius Odubu, last Saturday during a meeting with delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at Auchi as reckless, hasty and false.

Several persons, including a female, an official of the State Security Service, a policeman, both attached to the deputy governor, were said to be injured in the alleged attack, six of whom are currently receiving treatment for gunshot injuries at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, (UBTH) and two others at a private clinic in Auchi.

The Odubu Campaign Organisation had during a press briefing Sunday morning, blamed the alleged attack on political enemies of the deputy governor who did not want him to contest for ticket of the APC during the party’s primary election to enable him fly the party’s flag at the September 10 governorship election.

But reacting to the claims of the Odubu Campaign Organisation, the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, in a press statement, described the assassination theory as false.

Below is the full text of the press statement:

“Our attention has been drawn to newspaper reports and subsequent press statement by the Odubu Campaign Organisation on the alleged assassination attempt on Dr Pius Odubu, the Deputy Governor of Edo State and a gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

“While we condemn in very strong terms the ugly incident at Auchi, we note, however, that the conclusion of the Odubu Campaign Organisation on alleged assassination attempt appears hasty as preliminary reports suggest that the fracas at Auchi was caused by thugs loyal to the Odubu campaign imported in two truck-loads to Auchi who attacked other party loyalists not sold to the deputy governor’s aspiration.

“It is instructive to note that the Deputy Governor was inside the secretariat building of the APC in the company of the Party Chairman in the Local Government, Alhaji Umoru Akokhia, addressing the delegates while thugs loyal to him who had become unruly, fired gunshots at other APC loyalists who were outside protesting against his visit.

“We gathered authoritatively that the first shots were, in fact, fired by Odubu’s security details in an attempt to scare away the party faithful who were against the hoodlums imported to their domain by the Odubu Campaign Organisation, before thugs loyal to him fired at the party’s loyalists.

“It should be noted that among those who sustained injuries are APC loyalists who are presently receiving medical attention in the hospital.

“It is laughable that the Odubu Campaign Organisation will allege that the Deputy Governor, with full compliments of security details, was shot at, yet no casualty was recorded on the other side and nobody apprehended.

“Given the above scenario, we find it lousy for anyone to impute assassination theory as propounded by the Odubu Campaign Organisation, especially when investigations are still ongoing and the Police are yet to submit their findings on the fracas. A responsible campaign organisation should have waited for investigation reports before jumping into reckless conclusions.

“The Governor has already directed the Commissioner of Police to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the incident and whoever that is found culpable will be made to face the full wrath of the law no matter how highly placed.

“It should be understood that democracy is all about inclusive participation and contestation of ideas, and not rule of the gun. Every gubernatorial aspirant who truly wants to govern the state must live by the rules of the game and not the size of his guns and political thugs. Campaigns are generally a very interesting aspect of democracy, hence, it must not be reduced to bloodletting.”

Similarly, the Chairman of the APC in Etsako West local government area, Alhaji Abubakar Akokhia, had said that the alleged attack was not targeted at the Deputy Governor.

Akokhia who confirmed the attack on the Campaign team of the Deputy Governor of Edo State while speaking to journalists in Benin on Sunday, ‎said a warm reception was accorded Dr. Odubu during his visit, but added that the crowd outside who were not party delegates kept shouting “Odubu you don win, Odubu, na you we know.”

He also said there was no directive from any quarters that party executive at the local government should not receive the Deputy Governor.

According to him, he was inside his office with Dr. Odubu when the shootings started outside.

“Before the Deputy Governor came, there were boys around. I asked them what they came for, they said they came to see the Deputy Governor and I told them they were not invited and that they were not delegates. They said they were Odubu supporters.

“There was no directive that we should not receive the deputy. Maybe it was the thugs he brought that did the shooting. When the Deputy Governor came. There were crowd outside and they were shouting, “You don win, You don win.” Later we heard them shooting.

“Anybody that said the attack was directed at the Deputy [Governor] is a black liar. We were together inside my office. He was inside my office during the shooting.

“Nobody plans to kill Deputy Governor. We agreed to host him. Who is planning to kill him. He should reduce the number of his entourage. The cars that came with him were more than 20,” Akokhia said.