Tony Osauzo, Benin
Signs that the Edo State September 19 gubernatorial election is heading for violence emerged yesterday, with the All Progressives Congress (APC), raising the alarm over the destruction and removal of its outdoor billboards and campaign posters and those of its candidates, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu, erected at strategic points in Benin City and beyond.
Addressing journlists in Benin City yesterday, the Vice Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the APC National Campaign Council, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, said “this unfortunate and criminal action took flight on Thursday, the 16th of July 2020, when the Edo State Government, expressly told one Mr. Dave Giwa Amu who is parading himself as the Managing Director of the Edo State Signage and Advertising Agency, to commence immediate removal and destruction of our billboards.
“It is pertinent to note that these outdoor billboards and indeed other campaign materials were duly paid for, designed and erected in full compliance with all legal requirements”, Obahiagbon said.
He explained that the Edo State Signage and Advertising Agency, purportedly led by Mr. Dave Giwa Amu, said be a supporter of governor Godwin Obaseki, was yet to receive the assent of the Edo State House of Assembly as the Bill for its creaction and operation was still being considered by the House.
“In essence, this agency, as of today, is unknown to the laws of Edo State and is visibly being weaponized by the State Government, an interested party in the election, to give itself an illegal, unfair, unethical, fraudulent advantage as we approach the polls.
“It is a new low for a state government and a Governor that has blurred and corrosively dimmed the lines on what is personal and official; what serves the interest of the state and that of the parochial interests of the man who leads it”, Obahiagbon said.
He said his party, the APC, has submitted a petition the state Commissioner of Police, Johnson Babatunde Kokumo and INEC on the incident, adding that “the act of intolerance carried out with impunity, foreshadowed what the Edo State Government has in store for the Edo voters and our supporters in the September 19 election following the emergence of incontrovertible facts that Mr. Godwin Obaseki is on his way to an embarrassing defeat.
“It is unfortunate that as the Chief Executive of the State who is expected to commit to peace, rule of law and avoidance of rancour, Governor Godwin Obaseki has continued to heat up the polity with reckless and provocative comments, media blackmail and criminal actions of intolerance including the mass destruction of opponent campaign materials”, Obahiagbon said.
But reacting to the allegation, the Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, denied claims that the government destroyed campaign billboards of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osagie Ize-Iyamu, saying that the allegations are belated antics of a routinely recycled politician who has nothing to offer to Edo people.
In a statement, Osagie said the allegations are ludicrous and unfounded, stating that the tactic is true to Ize-Iyamu’s approach to politics, which has never won him any success in previous elections.
“Anyone who knows Ize-Iyamu very well knows that this is his approach to politics. He raises the alarm and cries wolf when no one is chasing him. The state government has not removed any of his billboards. This is cheap blackmail to score lame political points.
“Ize-Iyamu is a politician that assumes relevance during every election cycle. This is what he does for a living and has no other job. It is not surprising to see these statements from him and his team. He should not be taken seriously, and his statements should be disregarded.
“He would go back to his cocoon after he has been defeated at the September 19, 2020 election and would most likely resurface after four years to repeat this cycle. So, we are used to his childish charades”, he said.