Special Report

October 15, 2014

Reign of terror in Edo: How Majority Leaders, lawmakers escaped death

Reign of terror in Edo: How Majority Leaders, lawmakers escaped death

Vehicles destroyed by the hoodlums at the Edo Legislative Quarters

We must get to the root of this madness — Oshiomhole

By Simon Ebegbulem

THOUGH those who have been following the crisis bedevilling the Edo State House of Assembly for some time now knew that the centre cannot no longer hold between the 15 All Progressives Congress, APC,  lawmakers and the nine Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  members. But what they never knew was that it will result to reckless bloodbath. Last Saturday, at about 6:30am, armed men numbering more than one hundred stormed the Assembly quarters which houses mainly the APC lawmakers, singing wars songs and screaming PDP!PDP!

They went to the homes of some key lawmakers such as the Majority Leader of the House, Philip Shaibu, Bright Osayande, Folly Ogedegbe, Sunny Aghedo and Bamidele Oloruntoba (Akoko Edo constituency 2). Unfortunately for the invaders, they could not find the lawmakers in their homes. They shot sporadically turning the entire Ihama Road to a war zone.

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A lawmaker, Oloruntoba, who told Vanguard that the incident happened at about 6:30am, asserted that the entire episode reminded him of the activities of ISIS in Iraq. Narrating the incident to Vanguard, the lawmaker representing Akoko Edo constituency 2, Oloruntoba said, “my mum came around and I planned to travel to my constituency. I woke up and had my morning prayers then decided to come out to clean my car.

Vehicles destroyed by the hoodlums at the Edo Legislative Quarters

Vehicles destroyed by the hoodlums at the Edo Legislative Quarters

Immediately I came out, I heard a loud noise at the gate and saw morre than one hundred boys with AK47 and different types of guns entering the compound. They were screaming PDP, PDP. One of them saw me and screamed, get him, he is one of them. So I took off immediately leaving my aged mother inside the house and my family. They shot at me immediately but I was lucky to escape.

That was why they started shooting all the cars in the compound and destroying doors and windows. I ran towards the Speaker’s lodge and informed him that armed men were in the compound and they were so many.

I told him to instruct his security men to return fire else we are gone. And that was how they started returning fire while the Speaker was making calls to the Commissioner of Police and other people. The shooting went on for more than 40 minutes and what was shocking was that throughout that incident, the police never showed up to help us.”

The Majority Leader Shaibu was their key target, because he was accused of beating up the PDP lawmaker, Rasaq Momoh, penultimate week. Shaibu and his family escaped death through the perimeter fence but, however, sustained serious injuries.

Shaibu who spoke to Vanguard shortly before he was rushed to hospital with his wife and son, said, “we heard they (PDP) held a meeting to come and attack us but we did not know that they will be this wicked and callous. Immediately I heard the gun shot I took my son through the back to jump the fence with my wife. While trying to take the son outside the fence one of the boys attacked me with a knife.

“My son fell from the fence and I had to struggle to defend myself. I had to use everything at my disposal to fight and luckily for me the guy fled and that was how I sustained injuries. I was shocked that the policemen detained to the quarters were withdrawn this morning while security was beefed up at the residence of Chief Dan Orbih the PDP chairman and other PDP leaders.

What these people did was to frame up Rasaq and get people to beat him up so that it will seen as if we were the ones that did it to enable them execute this plot. The PDP has been singing my name that I masterminded the beating of Momoh which is not true because I was not even there.

Scaling of the perimeter fence

“If I had seen Rasaq I would have told him that his PDP people set him up so as to achieve this invasion and he should hold them responsible.” It would be recalled that Rasaq Momoh was an APC lawmaker before he defected to the PDP with four others. But sometime in July, the House declared his seat vacant which barred him from entering the Assembly quarters. Penultimate Tuesday, it was learnt that he came to the Assembly quarters but was refused entrance by the security men and other lawmakers around.

He decided to scale the perimeter fence after which he was beaten up by some boys within the premises. Until now he is still receiving treatment at the hospital. The PDP accused the APC of masterminding the attack on Momoh which the APC described as arrant nonsense.

Tension heightened last Friday when President Goodluck Jonathan visited the State for the foundation laying of a $1 billion (about N165 billion) Azura Gas-powered Independent Power Project in Benin City.

The thugs loyal to PDP physically assaulted some senior officials of the Edo State Government including Secretary to the State Government, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, Edo State Chairman of the All Progressives  Congress (APC), Hon Anselm Ojezua and some civil commissioners.

Carrying placards with various inscriptions including placards of some PDP aspirants, the thugs disrupted activities at the Airport for several minutes as a combined team of soldiers and Policemen had a hectic time controlling them. It was the next day Saturday, that they proceeded to the House of Assembly quarters for the mayhem.

Destruction of cars

Governor Oshiomhole who spoke while inspecting the destruction of cars and houses by the hoodlums at the quarters, said “the PDP leaders had a meeting where it was decided that thugs should be recruited using one Idehen to come and perpetrate this attack. It is very clear that the Police granted permission for this attack.

“The Commissioner of Police was informed at about 10:00pm of the plan of the PDP to attack the Legislative quarters and the APC office. We made this intelligence available to the Commissioner of Police and you can see that even the minimal police presence here was evacuated so that these thugs could come and have a free reign of terror.

This morning, when they assembled at a point they were meant to assemble, the fact was conveyed to the Commissioner of Police. They actually assembled at George Idah Primary School this morning before they proceeded and the Police provided supervision for this very serious criminal act. It is very clear that the police command granted permission to PDP to carry out this heinous crime.

“I think for all Nigerians, at a time when we are confronted by insurgency and other forms of violent crime, one will expect that any functionary of the other party will share the concern of the President on peace and security.

You can see some of the PDP Leaders in Edo State having lost out and rejected by the people believe that they can create a situation that will make Edo State ungovernable and create complete distraction in their futile calculation that they can remove themselves from power. This is a very dangerous thing. I am not so much worried about the violent character of the PDP, I am more worried by what seems to be the police readiness to provide them with cover.

Police readiness

The State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who spoke on the attack on a former member of the State House of Assembly, Mr Rasaq Momoh, said, “You will recall that during the Local Government Election, Razaq Momoh was arrested by the police with two guns, a pistol and a double barrel gun. As of that time during that Local Government election, he was still a member of ACN.

When he was arrested and the facts were brought to my attention, I asked the police to ensure that he was prosecuted according to law. He was remanded by court in prison for four months before he was granted bail and as we speak that matter is pending at the High Court. About six months before the election, Razaq was shot by his criminals and he was taken to the hospital.”

The governor said he encouraged Rasaq Momoh to disclose who shot him and he claimed he didn’t know. This is someone who has a history of violence, history of carrying guns and attacking people with guns and I have insisted and I still do that everyone who has committed crime must be prosecuted according to the law of the land. The fact that he is a Lawmaker makes it imperative for him to be seen to obey the law and the police told me then that when he was arrested he asked whether the police knew who he was? That he is a member of the House of Assembly and the police had to remind him that he doesn’t have immunity.”

But responding to the allegations, the PDP Chairman, Chief Orbih, said, “there is no truth whatsoever in the governor’s allegations. After welcoming Mr President to Edo State on Friday, many of us went to our houses, had a light dinner and went to bed. It is common knowledge that what happened may have been borne out of the attack on Hon Rasaq Momoh and the fact that those accused are now free today.

What happened was not the work of our party. We believe in the law enforcement agencies to deal with the situation. The governor is the one brewing thugs in the state and we all know them. He decides to cry now because they attacked the Assembly quarters, why did he not react when the PDP lawmaker Rasaq was almost killed by his thugs.”

Also reacting, Ize-Iyamu said, “no meeting was held in my house or my office and I will challenge anybody to prove me wrong. The governor is not saying the truth. When he became a security man I don’t know. Dr Mayor whom he is talking about was in APC until we left. He is the one carrying all the thugs in town and he knows the cases against those people. He cannot continue to accuse people recklessly. Ask Ihonvbere, I expressed shock that day at the Airport because I never believe in violence, I never got involved in that. I joined PDP in May why will they accuse me of everything that happens? There was no meeting held in my house. He knows he created all these problems, I have left the APC why is he accusing me wrongly. Most of those guys in APC are my people so why will I go and kill them, that is impossible. I don’t know what he is talking about”.

But Oshiomhole who reacted again on the issue while receiving PDP defectors into the party in Ikpoba Okhai declared that “those who are preaching violence should know that Edo State cannot be conquered by a bunch of criminals.

He said, “We have the capacity and the capability to protect ourselves. However, we will not go for anybody’s blood because we don’t need it. Last weekend, people who have nothing to offer, who have no stake in our environment were the ones rooting for violence. It was at the pastor’s campaign office that they held the meeting where it was decided that they should kill a number of people and they got the police support and they went to the legislative quarters with firearms and wanted to kill our assembly men.

The pastor collected money promising that he would take over the House of Assembly and he failed. Contrary to their calculations, we have shown that we are totally in charge. We have presented our budget for 2015 when many PDP Governors are still struggling to prepare their budgets. Everything they think we cannot do, they saw that we are doing it better.

“When they were blocking the Ring Road, we moved our people out of the Ring Road. They could no longer block it, so out of frustration, they decided to resort to kill. When a man embarks on sucking the blood of young people, we leave him in the hands of God. I want to warn the Pastor, if he brings violence to Edo State, the violence will consume him. Anybody who brings violence to Edo State, violence will consume. I want to advise all those who are preaching violence that Edo State cannot be conquered by a bunch of criminals.”