Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
There was tension yesterday at the Iyamho country home of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, when hoodlums suspected to be thugs attacked Governor Godwin Obaseki’s convoy with pebbles.
It was learnt that after the convocation ceremony of Edo University, Iyamho, Governor Obaseki, accompanied by Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu and some dignitaries went to Oshiomole’s house to pay homage on him when hoodlums started throwing stones at them and prevented them from entering his residence.
It was also gathered the windscreen of three vehicles in the governor’s convoy were smashed with stones, making them to turn back without seeing the APC national chairman.
It was also gathered that no injuries were sustained during the attack.
Governor Obaseki who spoke with journalists at the Edo University shortly after the incident, described it as unfortunate.
“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”, the governor said.
A report posted yesterday by Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osaigie, said: “The former governor’s house is just opposite the university. Governor Obaseki, the Oba of Lagos and other guests had gone to Oshiomhole’s house for lunch when they were attacked by thugs led by one Romeo, said to be one of Oshiomhole’s nephews.”
But a source at the venue, described the purported attack on the governor and the Oba of Lagos as figment of the governor’s media crew imagination intended to paint a bad picture of the APC national chairman. He explained that the purported attack began when youths of Iyamho, prevented the deputy governor, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu from driving into the compound of Oshiomhole.
The source said by then, the convoy of Oba of Lagos and that of Governor Obaseki were already inside Oshiomhole’s house and so “the two dignitaries were no where close to the scene of the event”.
He said it was when the deputy governor insisted driving in that some youths broke the windscreen of three vehicles in the convoy.
Earlier, before the convocation ceremony, supporters of Governor Obaseki and those of Oshiomhole had stormed the institution, chanting solidarity songs in support of the duo.
It was observed that while Obaseki’s supporters were shouting four-plus-four, Oshiomhole’s supporters were also shouting three-plus-one, no more four.
It took the intervention of the security agents to disperse the group with tear gas canisters and averted a possible clash between the supporters of the duo.
Earlier, while speaking at the convocation, the Pro-Chancellor, Prof Emeritus, Thomas Audu, said the first convocation ceremony was a milestone in the life of Edo University, Iyamho.
He said the convocation also afforded the institution to award first degrees to its pioneer students who were admitted in the 2015/2016 academic session.
Meanwhile, Comrade Oshiomhole last night apologised to Governor Obaseki, Oba Akiolu of Lagos and other guests over the attack on them by hoodlums, blaming the incident on the state deputy governor, Shaibu.
Oshiomole’s explanation was contained in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem.
The statement reads: “The incident that occurred at the gate of the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in his Iyamho country home was unfortunate and the national chairman expresses his apologies to the governor, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, and Chancellor of the Edo University, Iyahmo, Dr. Screen I Makanjuola whom he held in high esteem.
“But I want to state that the people who unleashed mayhem on vehicles were the thugs who invaded the university community on the orders of the deputy governor of the state, Philip Shaibu.
“The tension in the community started last Friday when the deputy governor imported thugs into the community with a view to intimidate political opponents. In fact, the Central Bank governor who delivered a lecture at the convocation ceremony that Friday insisted that the thugs who were disturbing the public must stop the noise making before he could commence his lecture. Security agents helped to ensure peace before the event started. As a matter of fact, Comrade Oshiomhole left the event through the back so as to avoid being attacked by the thugs who laid siege at the entrance gate of the university.
“Then today (Saturday) which was the main event, the governor, the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Oshiomhole and other guests were already in the hall when at about 11:30a.m, the deputy governor stormed the university with over 200 Okada riders and thugs. 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 friends 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”.
Also last night, the Chief Press Secretary to Edo State Deputy Governor, Musa Ebomhiana, denied the allegation that his boss, Comrade Shaibu, caused the mayhem in Iyamho.
“The Deputy Governor could not have caused the unfortunate incident that happened this evening (yesterday). 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”, Ebomhiana said.
Efforts to speak with the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Chidi Nwanbuzor, was unsuccessful as calls put across to him were not answered.