By Jethro Ibileke
The controversial defection of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to the All Progressives Congress (APC), will go ahead as planned, but at a different venue.
The much talked-about Ize-Iyamu’s defection to the APC with hundreds of his associates, has generated more than enough controversy, confusion and chaotic atmosphere in the ancient city of Benin in the last few weeks.
A faction of the party, loyal to the nation chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had arranged a mega rally to hold at Garrick Memorial School, Ekehuan Road, in Benin, at which Ize-Iyamu and his associates would be received.
But as at Thursday night, it was no longer certain if the rally will still hold or not, following the release of two different letters from the office of the Inspector-General of Police, Abubakar Adamu Mohammed.
One of the letters which was addressed to Adams Oshiomhole, and signed by the Principal Staff Officer to the IGP, ACP Idowu Owohunwa, expressed approval for request for police deployment for security at the rally.
The second letter titled Re: Request to stop the purported All Progressives Congress (APC) rally in Benin city, Edo State, and addressed to the State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, was also signed by ACP Owohunwa.
“In cognisance of the security consequences of the proposed mega rally, I am to confirm that the Inspector-General of Police has directed the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command, to emplace appropriate security framework that is directed at suspending the rally until further notice,” the letter said.
Hundreds of youths believed to be members of the APC loyal to Godwin Obaseki, also created tension in the state capital on Thursday, as they set bonfires at several spots on the two sides of the busy Airport Road.
Several persons were reported wounded and we’re hospitalised, even as unconfirmed sources had it that two vehicles were burnt down in a reprisal attack by loyalists of Oshiomhole.
As at Friday morning, Garrick Memorial School grounds were empty, except of few police operatives that were roaming the large school field, with the stage still intact.
It was however gathered that the venue has been shifted to the house of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, where the reception will now take place.
An aide of the former governorship candidate of the PDP in Edo state who did not want to be named, confirmed to our correspondent that the event will hold, not minding the IGP’s order stopping the rally.
“Yes, we are aware of the order from the office of the IGP. But that will not stop the defection of Ize-Iyamu and thousands of his followers.
“The IGP’s order said we should not meet at Garrick Memorial School, but it did not say that we should not meet inside his house. At least we don’t need his approval for that.
“The event is not a hidden one, it will be beamed life on national television channels,” the source added.
As at the time of filing this report, the house of Ize-Iyamu is a beehive of activities in preparation for the defection.