Tony Osauzo, Benin
Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has raised the alarm over alleged plans by the government to recruit thugs from Kogi and Ekiti states to disrupt a rally planned for defecting People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members on Friday.
Over 20,000 PDP leaders across the 18 local government areas of the state, led by Osagie Ize-Iyamu, will be received into the APC by the party National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and other leaders.
A statement by the party Secretary, Lawrence Okah, alleged that the state government has recruited the services of the governor’s Special Adviser on Security, Haruna Yusuf and former House of Assembly speaker, Kabiru Adjoto, to recruit the armed thugs.
“We are aware that the state government has recruited the services of Yusuf and Adjoto to recruit these armed thugs. They have been mandated to disrupt the scheduled rally by importing armed thugs from Kogi and Delta states.
“We are raising this alarm so that the world will know that Governor Godwin Obaseki intends to unleash mayhem on APC members in Edo State after he had perfected plans to join the PDP. We have informed him of the scheduled rally. His deputy has also been informed but they have vowed to disrupt any event that will boost the strength of the APC in Edo State.
“This claim that cultists are invading the state is arrant nonsense. We are holding APC rally and we have accordingly informed all relevant authorities.
“We appeal to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, police commissioner and the Department of State Services to provide security to our members on that day. We use this opportunity to appeal to the governor to toe the path of peace and avoid violence because no blood of any Edo man is worth the ambition of any body.
“We urge security agents to be at alert because since the preparation for this rally, our members are being harassed while many are being threatened and beaten across the state,” Okah said in the statement.
When contacted on phone yesterday, Adjoto denied the allegation, saying: “It is unfortunate such statement will come from Okah who is somebody I respect so much and I will be shocked if he actually said so. I am a man of peace, I am a stakeholder and the governor is committed to absolute peace in the state. He recently held a security meeting where he preached peace, especially in this yuletide season and we are committed to that.
“I am a man of peace and throughout my time as speaker, we maintained peace. If actually Okah made this allegation against me, I will seek redress.”
Haruna could not be reached at press time while Governor Obaseki denied knowledge of the rally.
Speaking to journalists shortly after a security meeting with head of security agencies in the state at Government House, Benin, the governor said: “I have checked with the state APC secretariat and as far as I am concerned, the party has not announced officially that they will be having a rally.”
In another statement, factional chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, said the purported rally was provocative and capable of disrupting peace in the state.
He said the attention of the party has been drawn to an information being circulated by some unauthorised people to the effect that APC in the state is receiving some new members on Friday at Garrick Memorial School, Ekenwan Road, Benin .
He noted that neither the governor, who is the APC leader in Edo State nor other leaders of the party are aware of the purported declaration rally, adding, “it is, therefore, highly provocative and capable of creating breach of peace.”
Ojezua urged APC members not to have anything to do with the event, saying: “The organisers of that event are sufficiently seasoned and experienced as politicians to know the proper procedure and tradition usually attendant to this sort of event.”