The political undercurrents in the supremacy contest between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) boiled over yesterday after suspected thugs unleashed terror on the governor, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, and Chairman, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Aderemi Makanjuola.
The attack took place at the country home of Oshiomhole at Iyamho in Estako West Local Government Area of the state.
The trio and their entourage were in Oshiomhole’s house ostensibly for lunch at his invitation after attending the first convocation ceremony of the Edo University, Iyamho.
Although Oshiomhole immediately apologized to Obaseki, Akiolu and Makanjuola over the incident, a blame game soon ensued between the APC chair, the governor and his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu.
Oshiomhole fired the first salvo when he said that the people that carried out the attack were thugs imported by Shaibu.
The APC chair claimed that tension began rising in the community last Friday when Shaibu brought in the thugs for the purpose of intimidating political opponents.
Obaseki described the attack as unfortunate but vowed that it would not stop him from working for peace.
His deputy, Shaibu, vehemently denied Oshiomhole’s allegation, saying neither him nor Obaseki could have organised an attack on their own persons.
The Nation gathered that Obaseki, Akiolu, Makanjuola, who was installed as Chancellor of the Edo University at the convocation, were waiting for a chartered helicopter which was billed to convey some dignitaries who had attended the convocation back to Benin when the chancellor mentioned that he had a lunch appointment with Oshiomhole.
Obaseki then reportedly interjected that if the National Chairman of his party was giving lunch, he could also join.
At that point, the governor, the Oba of Lagos and Makanjuola decided to drive to Oshiomhole’s residence in a convoy.
The convoy was soon joined by a large number of commercial motorcycle riders.
Some residents of the town, who are Oshiomhole’s supporters, did not like the involvement of the okada riders and began to boo them all the way to the APC chairman’s house.
On getting to the entrance of the house, the security men refused to open the gates for the governor and his people to enter.
Soon, confusion broke out and an attack was launched on the trio and their entourage.
It took the intervention of the governor’s security team to prevent a blood bath.
But several vehicles were smashed by the thugs.
Oshiomhole’s camp had alleged a few weeks ago that his Benin house was vandalized by thugs.
The state government denied the claim.
Oshiomhole apologizes over the attack
Moments after yesterday’s attack, Oshiomhole apologized to the trio.
The APC chairman, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Simon Ebegbulem, said he left the convocation lecture on Thursday through the back to avoid being attacked by the thugs who had laid siege at the entrance gate of the university.
Oshiomhole said he and other guests were already in the hall when at about 11:30am, the deputy governor stormed the university with over 200 Okada riders and thugs.
His words: “Security operatives accosted them at the gate and refused them entrance. The thugs started threatening the security operatives who insisted the deputy governor can enter the venue but they will not allow the thugs to gain access.
“Following their threats the security operatives tear-gassed the thugs and the deputy governor. The thugs were dispersed while the deputy governor joined other dignitaries at the venue. This created tension already in the small community.
“However, after the event, Comrade Oshiomhole invited the Oba of Lagos, the Chancellor and others for lunch at his country home which is right opposite the university. Consequently, he left instruction at the gate that he was expecting these respected leaders.
“So when the visitors came, the governor drove in a bus with other officials but following the incident that occurred earlier where thugs sponsored by the deputy governor invaded the university, Iyamho youths barricaded the gate of the national chairman with a view to protecting him against any harm.
“Unfortunately, these youths sighted Andrew Momodu, Osaigbovo Iyoha in the bus which conveyed the governor to Oshiomhole’s residence. They decided to stop them from entering the compound because these were the same people who led the thugs that attacked Oshiomhole’s residence in Benin City penultimate week.
“While this confusion was on, the thugs brought by the deputy governor started destroying the vehicles belonging to Oshiomhole’s kinsmen. I want to state clearly that the vehicles destroyed were not in the convoy of the governor. The thugs targeted the vehicles belonging to Oshiomhole’s relations and friend and destroyed them. Thank God for the intervention of soldiers and other security operatives who came to restore peace.
“This would not have happened if not for the thugs who invaded the community loyal to the deputy governor.
“However, Comrade Oshiomhole expresses his sincere apologies to the governor, the revered Oba of Lagos and the Chancellor over the unfortunate incident.”
Obaseki: Attack is unfortunate
Obaseki in his response to the incident called it unfortunate.
“It is very unfortunate that we can’t feel safe in the house of our National Chairman. I am not sure that if I visit the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that they will attack me the way they did in the house of the APC National Chairman,” he told reporters.
“It is unfortunate that things have degenerated to this extent. But we will continue to sue for peace. We cannot afford to lose the gains of the last three years. We will continue to pursue peace,” he added.
“It is really unfortunate that we can’t feel safe at the house of our National Chairman. I am not sure that if I went to the house of the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, they will attack me the way they did in the house of our chairman,”
“It is really unfortunate that things have degenerated to this extent but we will continue to pursue peace and we cannot afford to lose the gains of the last three years,” he said.
‘I didn’t cause attack on Obaseki, says Shaibu
Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, denied allegations by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that he caused the attack on Governor Godwin Obaseki and Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.
Shaibu, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Musa Ebomhiana, said he could not have caused what he described as ‘the unfortunate incident that happened this evening.’
He said: “The Governor, his deputy, Oba of Lagos and their entourage were at the gate of the National Chairman of our great party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to pay him the usual homage since they were in his domain.
“Surprisingly, the large crowd that gathered at the gate brutally attacked the convoy, destroying three cars in the process. The convoy had to quickly turn and came back to the varsity campus. So, how did the DG cause it, could he have arranged his own attack?
“In fact, they were there on the invitation of the Comrade himself.”