May 2, 2016

Assassination attempt: Odubu vows to continue with campaign


Assassination story is a lie —Oshiomhole

By Emmanuel Aziken, Simon Ebegbulem & Gabriel Enogholase

BENIN—Irrespective of the reported assassination attack on him, weekend, embattled deputy governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, yesterday, vowed to proceed with his campaign to succeed Governor Adams Oshiomhole. The governor has, however, described the assassination attack as a lie, saying that the gun shots fired at Odubu’s campaign event were orchestrated by the deputy governor’s supporters.

The conflicting claims came as fellow All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirants, Mr. Kenneth Imasuagbon, Dr. Pedro Obaseki, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and Engr. Chris Ogienwonyi, expressed outrage over the incident.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the party in Etsako West, Alhaji Abubakar Akokia, corroborated Oshiomhole’s account that the attack on the deputy governor was marshalled by Odubu’s supporters, just as the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike, told journalists, yesterday, that some names had been mentioned and that he had given a marching order to his men to go after the people and arrest them.

He insisted that the perpetrators of the attack would be brought to book and advised all governorship aspirants to go about their campaigns peacefully, adding that Edo 2016 will be very peaceful.

PDP reacts

On its part, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, has called on the various security agencies in the state to urgently investigate the assassination attempt on Odubu and bring the perpetrators to book.

It will be recalled that a policeman, an operative of the Department of State Services, DSS, and six others were injured during the attack on the APC secretariat in Auchi, during the deputy governor’s visit to the area, the home base of the governor.

Director of Strategy, Research and Planning of the Odubu Campaign Organisation, Mr. Samson Osagie, who briefed newsmen in the presence of Odubu, yesterday, in Benin on what transpired during the attack, said the national headquarters of the party must urgently intervene to save the party from sliding into total crisis.

He said: “We thank God that our deputy governor was not hit by bullets as it was obvious that the attack was orchestrated directly at his person and geared towards disrupting the aims of the campaign. For us in Odubu Campaign Organisation, we believe that this act of cowardice being perpetrated by those who dread a free, fair and credible democratic contest is another attempt to intimidate, harass and put pressure on the deputy governor to quit the governorship race or be eliminated.


Odubu and Oshiomhole

“We need to emphasize that as an ardent and firm believer in the tenets of democracy, Dr. Odubu will continue to market himself to the delegates of the APC with a view to getting them to nominate him as the flag bearer of the party.

“You will all also recall that Saturday’s attempt to exterminate the deputy governor is only a high point of events targeted at his person and his governorship ambition. You are all aware of the spate of illegal suspension of party officers supportive of his ambition earlier, and the almost daily removal of political appointees from office who dared to associate with his ambition.

“This, to us, is the height of naked display of cruelty, animosity, intolerance, gross irresponsibility and man’s inhumanity to man. Let us be reminded that in a democracy, it is only the people that have the right to choose their leaders. And for those who seek to spill blood (as they attempted on Saturday), on account of mere party nomination exercise, the God of justice shall bring judgment upon them,” he said.

Osagie said that while on the way to Auchi, an unmarked vehicle broke into the deputy governor’s convoy causing it to stop for a while, adding that the campaign team got information that instructions had been passed on to the delegates not to receive Dr. Odubu and his team in the three Etsako local government areas and that money was disbursed to that effect.

He said that delegates in Agenebode who received the team happily and pledged their support for the deputy governor, confirmed the instruction. However, the case was different in Fugar,  administrative headquarters of Etsako Central, where an Executive Director to the governor allegedly dispersed the delegates from the party chairman’s house while waiting for the deputy governor.

Oshiomhole refutes report

Reacting to the whole incident, Oshiomhole, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, yesterday, said: “While we condemn in very strong terms the ugly incident at Auchi, we note, however, that the conclusion of the Odubu Campaign Organisation on alleged assassination attempt appears hasty as preliminary reports suggest that the fracas at Auchi was caused by thugs loyal to the Odubu campaign imported in two truck-loads to Auchi who attacked other party loyalists not disposed to the deputy governor’s aspiration.

“It is instructive to note that the deputy governor was inside the secretariat building of the APC in the company of the party’s Chairman in  the local government, Alhaji Umoru Akokhia, addressing the delegates while  thugs loyal to him who had become unruly, fired gunshots at other APC loyalists who were outside protesting against his visit.

“We gathered authoritatively that the first shots were, in fact, fired by Odubu’s security details in an attempt to scare away the party faithful who were against the hoodlums imported to their domain by the Odubu Campaign Organisation, before thugs loyal to him fired at the party’s loyalists.

“It should be noted that among those who sustained injuries were APC loyalists who are presently receiving medical attention in the hospital. It is laughable that the Odubu Campaign Organisation will allege that the deputy governor, with full compliments of security details, was shot at, yet no casualty was recorded on the other side and nobody apprehended.

“Given the above scenario, we find it lousy for anyone to impute assassination theory as propounded by the Odubu Campaign Organisation, especially when investigations are still ongoing and the Police are yet to submit their findings on the fracas. A responsible campaign organisation should have waited for investigation reports before jumping to reckless conclusions.”

On his part, Alhaji Akokia, chairman of the party in Etsako West, where the attack occurred, gave a different perspective of the attack saying the attackers were among supporters of the deputy governor.

He said: “Yesterday (Saturday), the deputy governor visited us. Before he came, there were hoodlums everywhere. I even asked the people who they were and to leave, that the deputy governor only came to address delegates. But they said no, they were his supporters. So I left them.

“When the deputy governor came, I took him inside our office. The crowd was chanting you don win, you don win. We were trying to calm them down but nobody listened to us. That was when tension heightened.  I called for opening prayers and we did that. While we were doing all these inside, we were hearing songs outside, you don win, you don win. But hoodlums were now shooting seriously. Fortunately, no life was lost. But three or four persons sustained injuries.”

The state chairman of the party, Ojezua, on his part, said that the attack was not characteristic of the party.

“I am very worried by what I read in the newspapers, people throwing stones and mud at each other. I join the call on security agencies to get to the root of this matter so that the culprits are identified and dealt with if they are members of our party.”

Imasuagbon described the attack as an insult on the Police and security agencies and called on the National Security Adviser to wade in to avert a bloodbath during the forthcoming APC governorship primaries.

Blaming the attack on those he claimed were desperate to hold on to power, he said: “I am troubled by what this means for Edo people. For the life of the deputy governor or that of any Edo person to be threatened is satanic and barbaric. That is not the way politics should be played. Why are they scared, panicky because of a free and fair election? This election must be free and fair.