Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has directed the immediate suspension of the proposed mega rally billed to be held today in Benin by a faction of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State backed by the National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
Addressing reporters immediately after meeting with the IGP in Abuja late yesterday, Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shuaibu explained that the IG had ordered the commissioner of police in the state to emplace appropriate security framework directed at suspending the rally until further notice.
The commissioner of police has also been directed to summon a meeting of all the parties involved in the political development with a view to engaging them and ensuring internal security.
Asked to react to the IGP’s earlier permission granted to APC, Edo State, to hold its mega rally, Shaibu said: “Having seen that, I had to write as the chief security officer of the state to let him know the situation in Edo State and to also inform him in line with the party constitution.”
Displaying the IGP’s letter restraining the rally, Shuaibu noted: “The governor is the leader of the party. And as the governor that is the leader of the party, if the party that he leads wants to do a rally in his own state and he has not authorised it and he is not aware, such a rally cannot take place.
“Also to inform him that the national chairman suspended from the state, Oshiomhole, does not have the locus to preside even over issues that concern APC as we speak.
“So, the man that must give voice to whatever in APC in terms of governance enshrined in the constitution is the leader of the party in the state, that is the governor. So, I have the letter, the IG has responded to me that based on the security situation that I have highlighted, he has directed the commissioner of police to put all security in place to suspend that planned rally by these people,“ Shuaibu said.
Governor Godwin Obaseki yesterday insisted that as the leader of the Edo chapter of APC, he was not aware of the proposed rally, warning against violence in view of the rising cult clashes in the state.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, the governor said checks with the state secretariat of the party indicated that there was no rally holding in Benin City, warning troublemakers not to breach the peace in the state.
He said: “During the last security meeting, we reviewed the situation in the state and zeroed in on the rising cult clashes, putting relevant security agencies on notice to check the incidents and ensure that people celebrate the Yuletide in peace.”
State chairman of the party, Mr Anslem Ojezua, also said that the party was not organising any rally in whatsoever form.
“We want to reiterate that we are not aware of any rally being organised in the state by APC. As the leader of the party, it is only proper that the governor is made aware of any such rally. But as at today, we are not aware of any rally, as there has not been any communication between the governor’s office and the party chairman to that effect.
“As a former national chairman of defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and founding member of APC, Mr Tony Momoh, has recently averred, the governor of a ruling party remains the leader of the party in the state. So, as a leader of the party, the governor not being aware of such a rally only goes to show that it is suspect.
“We want to, consequently, warn troublemakers to steer clear of the state and not attempt actions that would lead to breach of peace.”
But Oshiomhole, through his aide on media, Mr Simon Ebegbulem, said he was not aware of the cancelation of the rally, adding he needed to be duly informed by the IG of police.
The APC faction in Edo State loyal to him insisted that the mega rally to receive defectors from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would hold as planned. It said all the needed conditions for the rally to hold had been met.
Publicity Secretary of Edo APC, Mr Chris Azebamwan, said Anselm Ojezua was no longer competent to speak as state chairman of the party having allegedly been removed from office.
Azebamwan advised members of the public to ignore Ojezua’s statement denouncing the planned rally.
According to him, “Ojezua ceased to exist as the state chairman of APC since November 11 when 11 members of the state working committee passed a vote of no confidence in him which has since been ratified by the relevant organs of the party.
“Leadership of APC has met and we agreed that the rally is going on to receive new members who are planning to join us. Are there no other parties in the state, don’t they hold rallies? Do they need to take permission or inform the state government that they are doing rallies? In this circumstance of holding a rally, all you need to do is to inform and get the permission of the police which we have done so the rally is going to hold,” he said.
But Edo Youth Vanguard (EYV) warned Oshiomhole to steer clear of the state in respect of the “illegally planned APC rally in Benin City.”
It also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the former governor to order over “his support for a rally that has the potential of creating crisis and breaching the fragile peace in the state.”
In a statement issued in Benin City by its president, Mr Nosakhare Oseghale and Secretary General, Mr Edward Ikhide, the group queried the rationale behind the proposed rally, stating that the timing and approach were not only wide of the mark but allegedly had sinister motives to cause pandemonium to create an impression of anarchy in the state.
According to them, “issues of public safety are hanging in the balance if the purported rally is allowed to take place. Security reports clearly give credence to the apprehension that the political rally has sinister motives.”
There was tension in Benin City yesterday as hundreds of suspected APC youths stormed the busy Airport Road in protest of the party’s lingering crisis.
The angry youths blocked the two sides of the Airport Road and made a bonfire, thereby causing traffic logjam and panic in the state capital, while motorists sought alternative routes out of the area.
The protesting youths also made a bonfire at around the Golf Course, Akenzua junction and along Akenzua Road in Benin metropolis, thereby disrupting human and vehicular movement.
The youths, however, opened one side of the road to traffic when the representative of the Commissioner of Police, Mr Danladi Isa, persuaded those who barricaded the main gate of the airport to allow a free flow of traffic.
One of the protesters, Mr Lucky Ehimen, who spoke with journalists, charged Oshiomhole to stop meddling in the state’s politics and concentrate on national issues.
“Oshiomhole should leave us alone in the state and allow us to live in peace as Governor Godwin Obaseki has performed excellently well and the youths in the state are happy with his performance and want him to continue in office. We will not allow any imposition of the leadership of the party in the state,” he said.