There is tension in Edo State over Saturday’s gun attack on the convoy of Deputy Governor Pius Odubu during a visit to the All Progressives Congress (APC) secretariat in Auchi, headquarters of Etsako West Local Government Area.
Odubu yesterday relived the incident and called on the police to arrest the suspects he fingered in the attack. But Governor Adams Oshiomhole dismissed it all as “hasty”, saying “preliminary reports suggest that the fracas was caused by thugs loyal to the Odubu Campaign imported in two truck-loads to Auchi, who attacked other party loyalists not sold to the deputy governor’s aspiration”.
Besides, Etsako West party leader Abubakar Akokhia dismissed the claim that Odubu was targeted.
He alleged that the shooting might have been carried out by those in the deputy governor’s convoy.
He said Odubu was not under any threat at any time during the shooting.
At a news conference addressed by a member of the Odubu Campaign Organisation , the deputy governor called on security agencies to arrest and prosecute those who attacked him and members of his campaign organisation. He said he had identified “three principal suspects’’ behind the attack.
He urged the police to immediately unearth them and their pay masters, and prosecute them for this felonious act.
The former APC Minority Chief in the House of Representatives, Mr Samson Osagie, who spoke for the organisation, described the attack as “the height of naked display of cruelty, animosity, acrimony, intolerance, gross irresponsibility and man’s inhumanity to man’’.
He said Odubu would not back down from pursuing his ambition to be governor, saying that “in democracy, it is only the people that have the right to choose their leaders”.
“And for those who seek to spill blood on account of a mere party nomination exercise, the God of justice shall bring justice upon them,’’ he said.
Osagie said eight persons including a Department of State Services (DSS) officer and a police Inspector in Odubu’s entourage were injured.
“As we speak, six of them are currently at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital( UBTH) receiving treatment while the other two are still convalescing at a hospital in Auchi,’’ he said.
Osagie gave the names of those injured as Patrick Amakiri, a DSS official, Inspector Agge Felix, the escort police commander attached to Odubu, Zibiri Yakubu, Ogbeso Nice, Osabuohien Igiebor and Matthew Ajayi.
Osagie said delegates were dispersed from receiving him at Fugar, Estako Central Local Government by an executive director to Governor Adams Oshiomhole. He did not name the executive director.
He described the attacks as another attempt to intimidate, harass and put pressure on Dr. Odubu to quit the governorship race or be eliminated.
“We wish to notify the National Chairman and members of the National Working Committee of the APC that they must pay proper attention to the happening in the Edo State chapter of the party as we move closer to the governorship election,” Osagie said, adding that the APC must be jealously protected for the party to retain its foothold in the South South zone.
The state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Godwin Erhahon, also at the news conference, described the attack as “madness’’.
“What happened yesterday (Saturday) in Auchi is absolute madness.
“I want to appeal to APC supporters to remain calm and be friendly ahead of the elections proper.’’
Police Commissioner Chris Ezike, who visited Odubu’s campaign secretariat, said although the command was yet to make any arrest, it had names of suspects.
Ezike, who also condemned the attack, said all aspirants must be given a level playing field to campaign, noting that the command would not tolerate any act of violence from any quarters.
He said the command had in the last eight months been mopping up firearms from those undesirable elements and would continue to do so ahead of the governorship election on September 10.
CP Ezike who came into the secretariat at about 9.21am, went upstairs to meet with the deputy governor and left at about 9.24am.
On the attack on Odubu which happened in the governor’s local government, Ezike said: “I have given a marching order that those involved be arrested. This thing happened in the day time; names have been mentioned and we are going after them.
“The actors in this game should know that power belongs to God. It is our appeal that they conduct themselves and their supporters in a lawful manner. We will get to the bottom of the incident. Luckily, a few names have been mentioned, they are not ghost.”
The APC chair in Estako West Local Government, Alhaji Abubakar Akokhia, said yesterday that the shooting was carried out by his supporters.
He said a warm reception was accorded Odubu, but it was the crowd outside and not party delegates that kept shouting “Odubu you don win, Odubu, na you we know”.
Akokhia told reporters in Benin yesterday that there was no plan to kill the deputy governor in the locality.
He said he was inside his office with Odubu when the shootings started outside.
His words: “Before the deputy governor came, there were boys around. I asked them what they came for; they said they came to see the deputy governor and I told them they were not invited and that they were not delegates. They said they were Odubu’s supporters.”
“There was not directive that we should not receive the deputy. Maybe it was the thugs he brought that did the shooting. When the deputy governor came, there was a crowd outside and they were shouting, “You don win, You don win”. Later, we heard them shooting.
“Anybody that said the attack was directed at the deputy is a black liar. We were together inside my office. He was inside my office during the shooting.
“Nobody planned to kill the deputy governor. We agreed to host him. Who is planning to kill him? He should reduce the number of his entourage. The cars that came with him were more than 20.”