BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
BENIN CITY – TENSION heightened in Benin City, Tuesday, after four persons including a Benin Prince, were shot along Lagos Street, when armed men stormed the residence of the Arala of Benin Kingdom, Chief SD Omalayan Osula.
Two of the victims, Rapheal Oke and Osamuyi Obaze, died on the spot while Prince Ebo Eweka, grandson of Princess Eweka of Benin Kingdom and one other yet to be identified person, are in critical conditions at the hospital.
Chief Arala Osula, alleged that the incident occurred when the suspended Chairman of the Task Force Committee on the Protection of Pipeline Vandalization, Mr Osakpanwan Eriyo stormed his residence with armed men, asking him to urge his children to stay away from the problem he had with the palace.
But another account of the incident stated that the shooting occurred when Eriyo allegedly defied the government’s suspension order on revenue collection and asked his boys to go and collect levy from the market in Lagos Street. But it was said that the attempt by his boys to collect levies from the traders was resisted by Ogbe boys who were in solidarity with the palace over the assault on the Prince.
It was learnt that the two groups engaged in a gun battle which eventually led to the loss of lives.
The Oba of Benin had Monday, placed a curse on Eriyo, after the latter allegedly assaulted the Oba’s son and Caretaker Committee Chairman of Oredo Local Government Council, Prince Ekpen Erediauwa.
Following the incident, the Edo state government also suspended Mr Eriyo as chairman of the committee and barred him from collection of levies in the council.
Meanwhile, the Benin Political Coalition, led by the former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Rowland Owie, the Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), led by its chairman, Comrade Agbons Uyigue, condemned the alleged assault on Prince Erediauwa and urged the police to investigate the matter and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
However, Chief Osula who narrated the incident that led to the killing, said that “the terrorist group decided to carry the fight to my house; Osakpanwa came this morning. He said he came to me to protest that my children went to join Prince Ekpen to fight him. But before we knew what was happening, his boys started shooting and two people were killed on the spot.
“This is terrorism in practice in Edo. We are waiting for the Governor to come and talk to us before we know what to do. I have just called my sister who is in the Action Congress to tell her what their youth leader is doing. As I am talking to you, another Prince was shot and is in the hospital now. This is unacceptable to us he must pay for his sins” he declared.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Edo state, ASP Peter Ogboi, confirmed the incident, asserting that ” some persons have been identified as the people who shot the victims. He also said that the CID had been directed to apprehend any person involved in the shooting.
As at press time, unconfirmed reports indicated that Osakpanwa has been whisked to the Police headquarters Abuja.