Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye
In what looks like a rehearse of what to expect in the election campaigns and the September 19 Edo State governorship election, thugs suspected to be loyal to the two main political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, clashed at the entrance to the palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, following the visit of the South-south PDP governors to the palace.
The clash occurred immediately after the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, left the palace with other state governors, who paid a courtesy visit to the Oba of Benin ahead of the flag-off of the party’s governorship campaign in Benin City.
The thugs were said to have engaged in singing pro-solidarity and counter-songs for and against Governor Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu at the exit gate of the palace when tempers went beyond control.
In the ensuing melee, the thugs used dangerous weapons, including firearms, cutlasses and others and in the process several persons were reportedly injured while others scampered to safety, even as many cars parked at the front of the palace were damaged.
They shot sporadically into the air for minutes before they were dispersed by policemen, who were keeping guards at the entrance to the palace.
Besides, poles bearing PDP umbrella and logos along the airport road were torn to shred.
Reacting to the incident, the Edo State Media Campaign Council of the APC for the governorship election accused Governor Obaseki and his party, the PDP, of unleashing violence on the people in Benin City following a confrontation in which the governor was booed and embarrassed while trying to gain entry into the palace of the Oba of Benin.
The Chairman of the Media Campaign Council, Mr John Mayaki, in a statement said that Obaseki instructed his thugs to attack the people as retribution for their public booing of his arrival with various chants labeling him a thief and rejected candidate and for spurning his rally allegedly attended by tax-collectors and mobilized thugs.
“It is sad that Mr Godwin Obaseki, the outgoing governor of Edo State, has, today, July 25 (yesterday) displayed the same traits of intolerance and penchant for violence that made the people of Edo State unanimously reject him.
“Booed by the people at the entrance of the palace of our great Oba for handing the state to the PDP tax collectors, who are unconscionably feasting on our collective patrimony, Mr Godwin Obaseki, as an act of revenge, instructed the thugs and cultists he has spent the past few weeks recruiting in the state and beyond to attack the people with dangerous arms,” he alleged.