Tony Osauzo, Benin
The residence of the Secretary of Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Lawrence Okah, has been attacked with Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) in Benin City.
The impact of the explosion damaged parts of the building and created a crater in the compound, with a second device failing to explode.
The attack, which occurred after midnight Monday, comes barely 10 days after a similar attack on the residence of a chieftain of the party, Chief Francis Inegbeneki in Benin city.
Reacting to the incident, Okah pointedly accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of plotting to kill him over his second term ambition.
Conducting journalists round his residence, Okah disclosed that gunmen had last week Tuesday fired shots at his bedroom, alleging that Governor Obaseki had earlier threatened him and had carried out the threat with the attacks.
Terrorism slowly creeping into Edo State: Improvised Explosive Device launched into the home of Hon. Lawrence Okah; Edo APC State Secretary and staunch member of the Oshiomhole mainstream Edo APC.#EdoAPCcrisis #Nigeria #EdoState pic.twitter.com/k22dWrlwyn
— Movt. of the People (@movtOfDPeople) February 11, 2020
”On Tuesday last week, I heard gunshots. They shot at my bedroom. The police came and picked 52 bullets here.
”Yesterday at about 12:30, I heard a noise like ‘BOOM!’. I called my security and they said it sounded looked like a bomb. The one they threw at my bedroom did not detonate. If that one had detonated, you would not have seen me talking to you.
”That was targeted at my room. If it had exploded, it would have been a different story. I just want to advise Mr Governor. He has threatened me before and he has carried out the threat.
”By the grace of God, we are alive to speak to our people to let them know what is going on. We pray to God for those we help not to turn around against us. By the Grace of God, I am one of those who helped this government to be, and the Governor has turned now to kill me,” Okah said.
Commenting on the incident, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who was present at Okah’s residence with other top APC stalwarts, alleged that Governor Obaseki and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, must not kill to get a second term, threatening to arrest the perpetrators if the police failed to arrest them.
He said the perpetrators did not have the capacity to sustain what they were doing because if they were pushed them to the wall, the consequences would be disastrous.
”The man simply is at the forefront, in saying he will not support the governor because he has not done well; gunmen went to his office and opened fire. It was just the grace of God that nobody died in his office. They were shooting to kill.
”They went to Chief Inegbeneki’s house and threw a bomb there. Who will go and throw a bomb in his own house because they want to do mischief? Chief Inegbeneki offence was that he was coordinating a rally in his hometown in Irrua. Lawrence Okah has been the subject of a lot of attacks and attention.
”Some days ago, he reported that gunmen shot at his house. If not for the grace of God, the people living here would have passed away. If they had been killed, would Godwin Obaseki and Philip Shaibu have told us everybody should go and mind their casualties? Enough is enough. Let us warn them. They are strangers in this land. They should not take us for granted. They don’t have the capacity to sustain what they are doing because if they push us to the wall, the consequences will be disastrous.
”We have been talking peace to our people but if they begin to think that immunity is a license to kill, they will be mistaken. They need to be very careful. This thing must stop. All these have been happening and the governor has pretended he is not aware. People are being shot and he does not condemn the act. This one has happened and the governor will be silent. What peace committee are we talking about when these people are throwing bombs in homes. Must they kill because they want a second term?
”People like us have tried to engage them; all we get are insults. Our desire for peace is not a sign of weakness. This rubbish must stop. They must call their people to order. This is not the work of robbers. Armed robbers cannot throw a bomb and walk away. This was politically-motivated. Lawrence Okah is the secretary of this party. You cannot force him to do your bidding. If you want him to work for you, you must submit yourself to the party,” Ize-Iyamu said.
On allegations that he once accused Oshiomhole of booming his wife, Pastor Ize-Iyamu explained that he said then that officials of the state government carried out the act.
”Was Philip Shaibu not prominent in that government? Haruna was prominent in that government. We know the people involved. The fact that we are saying Adams Oshiomhole government does not mean we do not know the officials who believe in violence. Oshiomhole has constantly told Shaibu that violence will not work. We need to warn the young man that he cannot continue his excesses. Being a deputy governor is not a licence. They are strangers in this land and we will not allow them to turn this state to a battlefield.
”We will continue to call our people to maintain peace. If we want to retaliate, this city will be turned into a war zone. It is time the security agencies started to make arrests. The culprits will not be difficult to find. Who are the culprits? Who is encouraging them is obvious. They should not push us to where we look for these people and begin to arrest them. We can arrest them until the police do their work. We don’t want to take the laws into our hands. We appeal to the police not to wait for people to die before they realise this matter is serious. They have used guns now they are using bombs. We don’t know what next they will use.
Also commenting on the attack, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Edo State, Henry Idahagbon, described it as state-sponsored terrorism.
”As we speak, not one single arrest has been made even though we have a good idea about those behind this heinous crime.
“It is time the presidency gets involved in the affairs of Edo State. They should not wait until all of us are killed before they intervene. There is a killer squad roaming the streets of Benin, looking for us to kill. By the grace of God, we will see the end of this government,” he said.
Responding, Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, said the state chapter of the APC was peaceful until the EPM and its enablers commenced their nefarious activities across the state.
”We are quite flustered that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has not been able to rein in his people in the face of the reconstitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Reconciliation Committee tasked to restore lasting peace in the party both in the state and across the country. We are committed to peace and would do right for the people of Edo State by continually supporting all credible means to arrive at lasting peace in the state.
”At the same time, we want to state clearly that Ize-Iyamu, Comrade Oshiomhole, and their cohorts are the common denominators of political violence in Edo State.
”On the 19th of October, 2014, this same Ize-Iyamu announced that his house along Dennis Osadebey Way, GRA, Benin City, where his wife carries out her dental practice, was bombed and at that time, he pointedly stated that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was then governor of the state was responsible for the attack.
“From that time till now, there has been a cessation of the use of explosives and other dangerous weapons in causing mayhem and heating up the political space in the state.
”It is therefore rather curious that with the same Ize-Iyamu coming back into the political space in the last three months, extreme political violence has resurfaced with bombs going off in parts of the state and gunmen attacking politically-exposed persons.
“We have stated before that the EPM, under the sponsorship of Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu, and others, having lost out of the political power play in the state and failed repeatedly in their inordinate quest to seize power from Governor Godwin Obaseki through undemocratic means, have now resorted to violence to create a sense of a breakdown of law and order with the intent of forcing the declaration of a state of emergency in the state.
“Obaseki urged the Presidency and the Inspector-General of Police to call Comrade Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu and their cohorts in the EPM to order that the destructive descent to violence does not erode the good legacies that have been built over the years by the APC in Edo state.”
He assured Edo people of the government’s resolve to maintain law and order and ensure that the peace and safety in the state were not threatened by whatever means.
As at press time, Edo State Police Command spokesman DSP Chidi Nwabuzor could not be reached for comment.