BY OTEGHE ADAMS
After the first verdict of the Supreme Court on the Bayelsa governorship elections recently, Nigerians eagerly anticipated the response of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which suffered a heavy blow with the judgement, as the apex court had ruled the party out of the elections.
The deputy governorship candidate of the APC in the election had submitted documents with conflicting names, prompting their Lordships to nullify the candidacy of the APC in the election. This was as the governor-elect in Bayelsa before the ruling, David Lyon, was rehearsing to take the oath of office, a duty that never came to be, as the judgement denied him the opportunity.
This, expectedly, didn’t go down well with the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had been engulfed in an extended battle to save himself with a litany of attacks by leaders of the party from across the country on account of his highhandedness, self-righteousness, brash approach to handling internal conflict within the party, and a knack for undermining institutions.
True to form, Oshiomhole went ballistic that evening, insinuating that justice was miscarried, threatening that there would be ‘no government in Bayelsa’ the next day. He was certain and firm, assuring that nobody would be inaugurated as governor in the state.
Oshiomhole’s action that night set off a chain reaction across the country, leading to disruption of peace and destruction of property in Bayelsa State. The house of the newly sworn-in Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri was attacked, as well as the premises of Radio Bayelsa.
There was pandemonium across the state, which forced the Bayelsa State Command of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to impose a curfew in the state.
All these happened as Nigerians struggled to make sense of the Supreme Court verdict, with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yet to make its decision known on the verdict.
Eventually, INEC followed the directive of the apex court in announcing Duoye Diri as governor of the state, which doused tension. But Comrade Oshiomhole still insisted that INEC had misinterpreted the verdict of the Supreme Court and that the party was going to challenge the judgment with an application of review of the judgement, which hit the rocks on Wednesday, February 26.
Oshiomhole’s reactions stirred protests and attacks on the residence of the Supreme Court’s justice in Rivers State and Abuja, which caused the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to warn the national chairman not to throw the country into crisis, with his unguarded comments.
The Edo State government has also said Oshiomhole has repeatedly ignored security protocol on visitation to the state, and that the state government should not be blamed when he faces the consequences of his action.
In a statement, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the national chairman visited the state on Saturday, February 22, 2020, thereby causing “sudden tension in Benin metropolis which resulted in large, unruly crowds gathering in strategic points and military personnel shooting sporadically, thrusting the city into pandemonium.”
Osagie said the state government had no prior notice of Oshiomhole’s visit, and that he ought to have informed the government and other relevant authorities of his visit.
“It is unfortunate that a former Governor who should understand basic security and protocol standards will willfully and repeatedly violate them and cause tension and severe threat to public safety and security,” he said.
“A few months ago, when Comrade Oshiomhole caused tension in the state due to the same behaviour, we had reported formally to the Inspector General of Police and the Department of State Services about the avoidable carnage, destruction of property and severe injuries to many persons as well as general unrest which resulted from Comrade Oshiomhole’s abuse of protocol and his penchant for crisis and violence.”
He noted that Comrade Oshiomhole has continuously defied all efforts by security agencies across the country, including the Inspector General of Police, and the Department of State Services (DSS), among others, to ensure peace, therefore posing severe threat not only to Edo State but also the country at large.
“We, however, want to warn that since Oshiomhole has decided to carry on with disrespect for processes and continuous stirring of crisis and disruption of peace in the state, the Edo State Government would not be responsible when he reaps the consequences of his unruly behaviour,” he said.
Osagie asked President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies in the country to “prevail on Comrade Oshiomhole to discontinue these acts of impunity, in the interest of ordinary law-abiding Edo people.” He said the state government is committed to preserving public safety and order.
Meanwhile, chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State have also condemned the style of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole which has resulted in the undermining of public peace and safety in Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers States as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The chieftains, in separate interviews with journalists, condemned the actions of Comrade Oshiomhole, particularly his unguarded outbursts against the Supreme Court judgement over their verdict on the governorship election in Bayelsa State, following which Duoye Diri was sworn-in as governor of the state.
A chieftain of the APC from Edo South Senatorial District, Charles Idahosa said Comrade Oshiomhole in his characteristic manner of attempting to assert himself and his view on people and undermine public institutions, triggered off a chain of events that led to the destruction of property and undermining of peace in Bayelsa State, which resulted from his threats that ‘no government would exist in the state’ after the Supreme Court verdict.
He said, “We are very concerned about the actions and utterances of Comrade Oshiomhole in recent weeks. We had raised the alarm that he characteristically undermines public order with his actions in Edo State and reported him to relevant authorities to take action. We are more concerned now that his actions may have led to civil unrest.
“Over time, the state government has continuously insisted that Comrade Oshiomhole not only breaches protocol but also instigates violence. This was made manifest on national television and we saw what it resulted to in Bayelsa and other states.”
A chieftain of the party in Edo North Senatorial District, Makor Shaka Momodu, said failure to call Comrade Oshiomhole to order will spell dire repercussion for the country.
He added, “We are really worried about the recent turn of events. We had thought that the suspended National chairman would have learnt his lessons with the verdict of the Supreme Court, but it appears he is emboldened by it to even do more damage to the APC and the country.”
Jeffery Obasanmi, another leader of the party, said it was quite unfortunate for Comrade Oshiomhole to continue to disregard protocol and directives just to massage his ego, noting that relevant authorities ought to take drastic actions to rein him in.
“We are indeed concerned about the developments in Abuja, Bayelsa and Rives States. It is unbecoming for a national chairman of the party to instigate people to act in manners that undermine public safety.”
Adams is an APC chieftain in Edo South.