Tony Osauzo, Benin
The crisis rocking the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Party (APC), has turned bloody as a top member of the party, Mr. Henry Idahagbon narrowly escaped death as gunmen suspected to be hired assassins attacked him in his office.
Two persons were, however, said to have sustained bullet injuries during the attack.
One of those injured, said to be APC ward chairman, was said to have been rushed to an undisclosed hospital for medical treatment.
Besides, a restaurant at the ground floor of the building was severely damaged by the rampaging gunmen.
Idahagbon, a former Edo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice said that the gunmen who came in three vehicles fired several shots into his office located on Siluko Road.
The office was pockmarked with bullets while shattered window panes littered the premises of the building where the ex-Egor local government chairman’s law chambers is located.
Idahagbon on phone from a hide-out, said he was in his office attending to his clients when he was jolted by the volley of bullet shots which were aimed at his office, on the mid floor of the three-storey building.
He said he quickly dashed for the back exit, through which he escaped, even as the firing was still going on, adding that many persons were injured in the process.
“I was in my office, attending to some clients when I heard the echoes of gunshots directed at my office. I immediately ran out. The windows were shattered while the building is pockmarked with bullets. I have reported the matter to the police.
“In panic, some neighbours who heard the volley of the shots, apparently from pump action rifles, ran out of their shops, unlocked and fled for fear of being hit by stray bullets.”
He said he immediately reported the incident to the nearby Oba Market police station where a team of policemen were drafted to assess the extent of the damage.
One of the injured, Mr. Alufa Osayiniye, who spoke with journalists, said he was in Idahagbon’s office when people began shouting and the next thing he had was gunshots and decided to bend low as blood came out of his head.
“I was sitting down. I came to see our leader, Hon. Henry Idahagbon. I was seated there with others when we started hearing them scattering things and shouting,” he said.
A tenant in the building, Bruno Odaro, a surveyor, said some persons with Hilux, with branded number plate, came “shouting ‘where is Idahagbon’, ‘where is Idahagbon’ and started destroying things, shooting.
“If I take you upstairs now, you will see things for yourselves and you will see the bullet holes on the wall. It’s so pathetic. We had to run for our dear lives. Coming around after they left, we saw the destruction. The time was around 1.15, 1.30 pm.
“They said Idahagbon was around but from feelers, they said he had been taken to a safe place. That’s it. Some people had gunshot injuries. Somebody was severely injured and was rushed to a hospital. Some have been taken to police station to make statements,” Bruno said.
When contacted, on his mobile phone, the Edo State police spokesman, Mr. Chidi Nwabuzor, said he was not aware of the incident, adding “I am not aware of any shooting. I am just hearing of it from you for the first time.”
But the Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osage, alleged that Oshiomhole’s disruption of peace in Edo State was taking a dangerous dimension
He said the complaint of an alleged attack by one of the leaders of the proscribed Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), Mr. Henry Idahagbon, was the latest step in the plot by the national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to disrupt peace and safety in Edo State.
Osagie noted that the state government had continuously warned that Oshiomhole and his co-dissidents in the EPM, were hell bent on causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
“Today’s incident is another proof that members of the amorphous group are at war with themselves and the people of Edo State. The blame rightly should be dropped at the feet of the embattled national chairman, who continues to violate orders and promote violence in the state,” the Obaseki’s aide stated.
Meanwhile, spokesman for the 14 lawmakers-elect yet to be inaugurated, Washington Osifo, has described the government’s reaction as “very callous and it shows lack of regard for human life which of course had been the hallmark of this government led by Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State.
“Yes, his special adviser on media can react the way he wants to react because they have had it all worked out such that when it happens like this, they will say it’s a disagreement within the EPM. What is EPM and what is the grouse amongst them? The only grouse we know in Edo State right now is the over-bearing attitude of the governor on the basis of his desperate bid for a second tenure.
“So, even if life goes, it doesn’t matter to him. What a better evidence do you even need than when he gave himself up day before yesterday when he issued real threat to no less a person than the national chairman, his boss, the former governor that made him governor that if the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress ever comes to Edo to foment trouble, they would do to him what they know how to do best. What they know best is causing mayhem, molesting, harassing, attacking innocent members under the guise of being a governor.
“I want to tell him, I agree with very many persons, given the open threat he issued day before yesterday. I want to agree with those who are saying it is the governor that orchestrated this; I believe it is the governor because this is his stock-in-trade.
“He orchestrated this kind of action, this brigandage, this unwarranted attack on members of the elected Edo Assembly members on the 18th of June when he attacked us in a similar brazen manner, led by his then CSO, who led armed thugs to attack us at Golden Tulip.
“We reported it, the video is there. We reported to the IG; the IG did nothing. And this is a clarion call on the IG again. If his office as the IG is worth it, he should not allow Edo under his watch as IG in this country to degenerate to this extent.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan, may God bless him, said then that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian. The question I am asking Godwin Obaseki and his people is why does Obaseki think the blood of any Edo man is worth his ambition? Is he going to be there forever?
“And I want to call on President Buhari…he should not continue to look at the governor of APC disgracing and embarrassing the party. The party is supreme; he should call him to order. Let Governor Obaseki behave well. And I want to call on the Oba of Benin and all traditional rulers in Edo State to call him to order,” Osifo said.