Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki has blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the clash on Saturday between his supporters and that of the opposition party at the entrance of the palace of Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, after he had visited the traditional rulers with the Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came for the flag off of his campaign.
Thugs stationed at the exit gate of the palace were singing pro solidarity and counter songs against Obaseki and the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu until things went out of control leading to free exchange of dangerous weapons such as fire arms, cutlasses. several persons were reportedly injured while others scampered to safety, even as many cars parked at the front of the palace were vandalized.
Reacting to the incident, the spokesman of the Governor, Crusoe Osagie in a statement condemned what he described as attack sponsored by Ize-Iyamu and Adams Oshiomhole to harass the guests of the Governor.
“We are appalled by the deployment of thugs to the sacred grounds of the Oba Palace by the APC, Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomhole to harass guests who are in the state for the flag-off of Governor Obaseki’s campaign and had visited the palace to pay obeisance to His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin.
“While we respect the boundaries of politics as it relates to the Palace, it is reprehensible that the APC, its candidate and their enablers would sponsor thugs to desecrate the palace, which is a clear case of desperation to score cheap points.
“This conduct is not a trait of Edo people and is condemned in the strongest possible terms, as we are courteous and welcoming to guests. It is obvious that these persons were mobilised for this task by those who have no regard for the palace nor want the progress and development of the state”, he said.
Speaking at the flag off of the campaign at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium, Obaseki accused billionaire Nosa Okunbor of sponsoring the thugs.
The APC in their response through the the Chairman of the Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, said Obaseki instructed thugs to attack people after he was booed at the entrance of Oba’s palace.
“It is sad that Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the outgoing Governor of Edo State, has, today, Saturday, July 25, displayed the same traits of intolerance and penchant for violence that made the people of Edo State unanimously reject him.
“Booed by the people at the entrance of the Palace of our great Oba for handing the state to the PDP tax collectors who are unconscionably feasting on our collective patrimony, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, as an act of revenge, instructed the thugs and cultists he has spent the past few weeks recruiting in the state and beyond to attack the people with dangerous arms.
“This criminal and heartless action not only affirms our repeated warnings that Mr. Godwin Obaseki fully intends to prosecute the election with violence and thuggery, but it also shows his lack of empathy, conscience, and respect for the lives and dignity of the people he was elected to serve.
“His thugs have presently invaded the State Capital, unleashing mayhem to anyone perceived to be critical of the failed Governor or supportive of our party and candidate. After converging at the venue of the Governor’s campaign flag-off, they have poured into the streets, vandalizing properties and causing panic. We have heard unconfirmed reports of fatal injuries.
“Furthermore, as a way to avoid responsibility and expected sanction for the undemocratic and criminal destruction of our billboards, the Governor’s thugs are going around the city, deliberately pulling down their own billboards in an orchestrated gimmick meant to portray the false impression of “violence on both sides” when in truth, the desperate Governor, in cahoots with his PDP godfathers, are the ones threatening the peace of the State.
“We condemn this action in totality and demand immediate intervention by the Police and other security agencies. Our party, the APC, has built an effective campaign on the strength of our documented manifesto. Tellingly, on the back of four years of no achievement, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has neither a plan nor record of office to show, hence the resort to violence and thuggery.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police and all well-meaning Nigerians to immediately rein in on Mr. Godwin Obaseki and begin the arrest of his recruited thugs who are committed to causing chaos and violence in a bid to prevent the people, who have already voiced their rejection of Obaseki, from participating in the election freely and without intimidation”, the statement said.