Tony Osauzo, Benin
Blood and destruction trailed the meeting of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) on Sunday in Ivbiaro, Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State, as members of a pressure group within the All Progressives Congress (APC) were attacked by suspected thugs.
The attack, said to be a supremacy contest ahead of the governorship primary of APC, reportedly resulted in damage to many cars and chairs, even as some EPM members were said to have been hospitalised in Auchi.
Ibrahim Bawa, a lawyer and member of the group, in whose residence the meeting was to hold, narrated how the attack was carried out and explained they had obtained permission from the Divisional Police Officer in Afuze and the Area Commander in Igarra who gave them clearance to hold the meeting.
“At about 1 pm, while we were waiting for more members to arrive, we saw some people armed with machetes, axes and other dangerous weapons among them were the chairman of the council, Andrew Osigwe, Commissioner for Education, Jimoh Ijegbai.
“They came and said there is an instruction from the governor that any meeting apart from that of APC must not be allowed to hold and then pounced on us beating people mercilessly, they destroyed about 150 chairs out of the 500 we arranged in my compound. They destroyed all the vehicles parked in front of my house (owned by people who were coming for the meeting) and injured one of us; EPM Coordinator, Carlis Imolore, is right now in a private hospital in Auchi.”
A former member of the House of Representatives and former commissioner in the state, Abdul Oroh, said he became suspicious when one of the attackers started calling him apparently to know his whereabouts few days before the Sunday attack.
Calls to Osigwe yesterday did not go through but Ijegbai denied the allegation, saying he believed the attack was due to the leadership crisis rocking EPM in the area.
“I am aware that there is a leadership crisis between Bawa and Oroh who is EPM leader in the area. Anybody that knows my history will know that I am a man of peace, I don’t see myself leading anybody to go and destroy any meeting, but one thing I know is that I am a member of APC, I don’t know anything about EPM, EPM is not a registered political whatsoever,” Ijegbai said.
Gideon Obhakhan, in a statement on behalf of EPM yesterday, condemned the attack.
“This senseless attack is obviously a fulfilment of recent threats by Edo State governor to deal with any opposition and voice of dissent, in his desperate bid to return himself as governor despite his massive rejection by Edo people.”
Reacting to the EPM’s statement, Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the governor has no hand in the attack.
“The governor is well known in this state to be a stickler for law and order. So, if anybody conducted himself against that principle, the governor has nothing to do with that person,” Osagie said.