*Obaseki is behind my travails—Osakpanwa
*APC leaders flee homes as supporters demand his release
By Simon Ebegbulem
Edo State Youth leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Osakpanwa Eriyo and another chieftain of the party, Sunday Osagbona, were yesterday arraigned before the Oredo Magistrate Court Benin City for alleged conspiracy and attempted murder against the state Secretary of the party and Obazulu of Benin Kingdom, Chief Osaro Idah.
Eriyo who is also the state chairman of the Road Transport Employers Association (RTEAN), has been in police detention in the past three days following a petition by Chief Idah that Eriyo and others threatened to kill him and the Chief Security Officer to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr Haruna.
Osakpanwa was alleged to have told Chief Idah that “you will die the way your father was killed,” but he denied ever saying such. It will be recalled that Chief Idah’s father was assassinated in a very brutal manner in 1992 when he was chairman of Oredo Local Government Area.
But it was a difficult one for the police command in the state following the invasion of the command by over twenty thousand loyalists of Osakpanwa who demanded the release of their leader. Osakpanwa was said to have attempted suicide at the Police Command when he used a broken bottle to cut his body. Blood flowed freely before the police held him while he cursed Governor Godwin Obaseki of being behind his travail.
The Edo state Police Commissioner, Haliru Gwandu, in his reaction said “we are not looking at the political angle of the incident but the crime which he allegedly committed. And that is why we have taken the matter to court”.
However, the police were able to whisk the APC leaders away to the magistrate court under heavy security and on getting to the court, they locked up the entire premises so as to stop the supporters from invading the court room.
When Eriyo was brought to court, he yelled at the police demanding why he was on handcuff when he was not a criminal.
He yelled, “why are you charging me for attempted murder, did I kill anybody, I am not a criminal, the governor is only trying to oppress me, I have not done anything”.
However, the pleas by their Counsel, Usunobun Evbayiro, that they should be granted custody in the police cell due to their ill health were rejected by the Magistrate. He said his clients were hypertensive, asthmatic, have high blood sugar and need constant medical attention. “The first accused person collapsed in police station. It was the police doctors who revived him. I urge you to use your discretion to allow him to be kept in police hospital so that police doctors can attend to him. It is for him not to die in custody.”
But the presiding Magistrate, M.C Ojobo said she lacked such powers and that prison custody is the proper place to remand them since there are health facilities at the prisons.
She said she lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter and ordered the case file to be sent to the Department of Public Prosecution for legal advice. The matter was adjourned to January 13, 2017 for mention.
However the war is about the soul of the APC in Oredo LGA which is the Council of Governor Obaseki. The leaders of the party in the council led by Chief Idah had a list of the party executive while Osakpanwa who doggedly supported Obaseki before and after the APC primaries had his own different list.
And just before Christmas, the leaders attended a meeting at Government House at the instance of Governor Obaseki, but those loyal to Osakpanwa were locked outside the meeting. His supporters then stormed Government in protest. It will be recalled that the former chief of staff to the governor, Patrick Obahiagbon convened the Oredo leadership meeting led by Chief Idah where the entire leaders of the party apart from Osakpanwa endorsed the list of Executive which was submitted by Chief Idah.
The situation is creating tension in the state as APC leaders in Oredo fled their homes as they were afraid they may be attacked by Osakpanwa’s loyalists who are more than 30,000 youths whom he has empowered. He is a god father to most of the youths in Benin and his incarceration in prison custody is capable of causing serious crisis in the governor’s own Local Government as he plans to settle down for governance next year.