By Jethro Ibileke
The All Progressives Congress (APC), in Edo state, has accused Governor Godwin Obaseki, of sponsoring seven armed men allegedly arrested at the premises at State House of Assembly in Benin City on Thursday.
The suspects were identified as Festus Agbonrenren (25), Odion Osayande (23), Ogbeiwe Wilfred (52), Morgan Uwaigboe (47), Osayomore Salami (25), Ifeoluwa Oladele (36), and Iginobaro Collins (26). Their arrests have not been confirmed by the police.
The men were allegedly arrested with five double-barrel long guns, two single barrel long guns, and 10 live cartridges within the premises of the Assembly complex.
It was gathered that the suspects prevented the 17 members-elect who attempted to make their way to the House for plenary early on Thursday.
The members-elect later relocated to an undisclosed location in Benin City where they elected Mr Victor Edoror as Speaker, after impeaching, Mr. Frank Okiye.
At a press briefing in Benin City on Friday, Vice-Chairman, Media, and Publicity Committee of the All Progressives Congress National Campaign Council, Mr Patrick Obahiagbon, urged the police to properly investigate the activities of the thugs to establish their sponsors.
He alleged that it was Governor Godwin Obaseki that sent the thugs to the Assembly to prevent the 17 lawmakers from meeting at the Assembly.
“It is good to observe that the police made arrests of not less than seven of these thugs who were armed with five double-barrel long guns, two single-barrel long guns, and 10 live cartridges within the Edo State House of Assembly premises.
“We call on the police to conduct a transparent investigation on who were their sponsors and prosecute all those arrested and make sure the full weight of the law is brought to bear on those arrested and their sponsors.
“On this occasion, the Governor supervised both the vandalisation of the state House of Assembly by ordering the removal of its rooftops, carting away public properties from the House of Assembly and tipping trucks of granite sand at the front of the gate of the House of Assembly’s premises.
“Why would the Governor lead his party members and thugs to stop the majority members of the Edo state house of Assembly from having and enjoying a peaceful sitting following their constitutional obligations?” he queried.
Phone calls made to the state commissioner for communication and orientation, Mr. Efe Stewart, for reaction fails to connect.
When contacted, the public relations officer of the command, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said he had not been authorised to speak on the matter.
“I have not been properly briefed on the matter and I have not got the permission of my principal to speak on the matter,” Nwabuzor said.
Meanwhile, Governor Obaseki, in a television broadcast on Friday, described the alleged invasion of the House of Assembly Complex as an attempted coup d’état that is tantamount to treason and contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
Obaseki who had on Thursday cut short his campaign in Edo North, over the rising tension occasioned by the heavy security presence in the Assembly on Thursday, warned that “any person or group of persons who set out to test our will in this regard will meet with the full wrath of the law.
“These events portend grave danger to the safety and security of our polity. It had all the hallmarks of an attempted coup d’état.
“The people of Edo state rose as one to prevent the desecration of our democracy.
“It is however worrisome that certain persons are willing to plunge the society into avoidable anarchy and conflict just to satisfy their illegitimate objectives.”
The governor assured that his government will take all steps necessary to defend the rule of law and democratic ideals, even as he warned that “any person or group of persons who set out to test our will in this regard will meet with the full wrath of the law.”