*Oshiomhole storms Benin meets party leaders
*Uhunmode APC suspends Osifo, spokesperson for lawmakers’ elect opposed to gov
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, Niger Delta, Gabriel Enogholase and Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
The cold war between the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his successor in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki exacerbated, weekend, with the governor, who traveled abroad, warning in the United Kingdom that he would not allow those who think they own the state to intimidate him.
He spoke just as the party leadership in Uhunmwode Local Government Area, his home-base, drew the first blood by suspending the spokesperson for lawmakers-elect against Obaseki’s alleged intrusion in the emergence of Speaker, Hon Washington Osifo.
Oshiomhole, who had not been in the state for a while, flew into Benin City, yesterday, for a burial ceremony in his senatorial district today (Sunday).
Sunday Vanguard learned that as soon as the former governor entered Benin City, some of his key loyalists gathered to meet and brief him on the happenings in the state.
While Oshiomhole was meeting with some party leaders, Obaseki camp raised the alarm, that Edo Peoples Movement, EPM, a group purportedly loyal to Oshiomhole, led by a former Commissioner in the state, Barrister Henry Idahagabon, held a clandestine meeting where it resolved to cause mayhem as from July 1.
Idaghagbon, a former Attorney General of the state denied the allegation when contacted by Sunday Vanguard, while Hon Osifo also rebuffed his supposed suspension by Uhunmwode APC leaders.
Meanwhile, some elders of the state, including a Bini chief, have intervened to restore normalcy between Comrade Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki.
Obaseki and Hon Charles Idahosa, a former Commissioner and ex-political adviser to Oshiomhole from Uhunmwode LG, stood their grounds, yesterday, saying the opposing lawmakers were not in a hurry to resume until the authorities follow due process to inaugurate the House.
Speaking from the UK on the opposition, Obaseki asserted: “They think they can determine who will be governor, they do not have the right, that right is solely resident in God and the people. If God said I will be governor, nobody can stop me, I will not be intimidated.”
‘We needed law and order and without law and order, you cannot attract investment and without investments, you cannot create jobs. Sorry, we cannot allow a situation where a few individuals mount roadblocks and collect money”, the governor said.
He said that government wrongly ceded revenue collection to political thugs as compensation to the extent that Oredo local government could not raise the revenue of N5 million monthly, while individuals were allegedly celebrating the billions they made.
“What you are seeing in Edo State is fight back of corruption…,” he stated, adding that the boys became so unruly that they went to communities, ransacked the places and chased away the Odionweres (village heads), which his government had to stop.
In the suspension notice to Osifo, dated June 21, 2019, signed by 35 party executives and leaders of the APC in Uhunmwode, the party said Mr Osifo was suspended over actions that “clearly violated Article 21 (a), (iii) and (iv) of the Constitution of APC, 2014 as amended.”
Article 21 of the APC Constitution provides for the powers to discipline party members. The section says, “The power shall be exercised on behalf of the Party by the respective Executive Committee of the Party at all levels.”
The party said it took the decision to suspend Osifo “at an enlarged meeting of all executives of the ten (10) wards, local government and state executive representatives, council chairman, vice chairman, councillors, special advisers, senior special assistants to the governor, commissioners and leaders.”
Uhunmwode APC explained it had earlier advised Osifo not to go against the provisions of the constitution of the APC.
“We, the concerned executives of the party hereby refer to the meeting held on June 8, 2019, advising Barr. Washington Osa Osifo not to go against the rules of our party constitution.
“Consequently, it was unanimously agreed that Barr. Washington Osa Osifo’s actions constituted a breach of the provisions of the APC constitution, and therefore approved his suspension from the party,” Uhunmmode APC said in the suspension notice.
The party declared that “Barr. Washington Osa Osifo, Honourable member-elect is by this general consent of Uhunmwode LGA party executives and others stated, suspended forthwith.”
It added: “All members of APC in Uhunmwode LGA and members of APC in Edo State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are hereby informed of this suspension after the expiration of the one week warning, which he failed to respond to as directed by the APC party leaders of Uhunmwode Local Government, hence the suspension.”
The suspension was signed by Engr. Justin A. Omoruyi, Uhunmwode APC Chairman; Hon. Agbaman Napoleon, Council Chairman; Dr David Osifo, Hon. Commissioner for Health; Rev. Johnbull Asemota, leader Umagba; Chief Richard Omoragbon, Vice Chairman, among others.
In his reaction, Osifo said, “They have no right to suspend me because the process of suspending a member, according to the APC constitution is quite enormous.
“Those who claimed to have suspended me are few in number, less than 12, but over 12,000 people voted for me,” he stated.
A source in the political camp of Governor Obaseki, who alleged plot by to disrupt peace in the state, claimed that EPM emasculated by the growing support for Godwin-Obaseki-led administration, at a recent meeting resolved to “disrupt peace in Edo State and cause mayhem and disorder, to commence from Monday, July 1.”