The story differs depending on who is telling it; but the fact remains that the on-going political battle for the soul of Edo State between former governor and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; and his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki, produced its own collateral damage that affected Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos and other innocent visitors to the country home of Oshiomhole on Saturday.
The affected guests attended the maiden convocation of the university in Iyamho, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State. The University is situated opposite Oshiomhole’s sprawling home.
Obaseki, Oba Akiolu, and Pro-Chancellor of Edo University, Iyamho, Prof. T.O.K. Audu were on their way to Oshiomhole’s house to honour an invitation to lunch by the party chairman when some thugs attacked the vehicle they were in and other vehicles.
This is how Governor Obaseki saw the attack on him and his convoy as he spoke to reporters: “It is very unfortunate that we can’t feel safe in the house of our national chairman. I am not sure that if I visit the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party that they will attack me the way they did in the house of the APC National Chairman.
“It is unfortunate that things have degenerated to this extent. But we will continue to seek peace. We cannot afford to lose the gains of the last three years. We will continue to pursue peace.”
Oshiomhole saw it differently. He put the blame squarely at the doorsteps of Deputy Governor Philip Shuaibu. His spokesman, Simon Ebegbulem, issued a statement which reads: “The incident that occurred at the gate of the National Chairman of the APC in his Iyamho country home is unfortunate and the national chairman expresses his apologies to the governor, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, and Chancellor of Edo University, Dr Aderemi Makanjuola, whom he holds in high esteem.
“But I want to state that the people who unleashed mayhem on vehicles were the thugs who invaded the university community on the orders of the deputy governor of the state, Philip Shaibu.”
“In fact, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Godwin Emefiele), who delivered a lecture at the convocation that Friday insisted that the thugs who were disturbing the public must stop making noises before he could commence his lecture. Security officials helped to ensure peace before the event started. As a matter of fact, Comrade Oshiomhole left the event through the back (backdoor) to avoid being attacked by the thugs who laid siege to the entrance gate of the university.
“Then, today which was the main event, the governor, the National Chairman of the APC and other guests were already in the hall when about 11.30 am, the deputy governor stormed the university with over 200 Okada riders and thugs. Security officials accosted them at the gate and refused them entrance. The thugs started threatening the security men who insisted the deputy governor could enter the venue but they would not allow the thugs to gain access….”
“The thugs were dispersed while the deputy governor joined other dignitaries at the venue. This created tension in the small community. However, after the event, Comrade Oshiomhole invited the Oba of Lagos, the Chancellor and others for lunch at his country home which is right opposite the university. Consequently, he left instructions at the gate that he was expecting these respected leaders. So, when the visitors came, the governor drove in a bus with other officials, but following the incident that occurred earlier, where thugs sponsored by the deputy governor, invaded the university, Iyamho youths barricaded the gate to protect the APC National Chairman against any harm.
“Unfortunately, these youths sighted Andrew Momodu, Osaigbovo Iyoha on the bus which conveyed the governor to Oshiomhole’s residence. They decided to stop them from entering the compound, because these were the same people who led the thugs that attacked Oshiomhole’s residence in Benin City penultimate week.
“While this confusion was on, the thugs brought by the deputy governor started destroying the vehicles belonging to Oshiomhole’s kinsmen. I want to state clearly that the vehicles destroyed were not in the convoy of the governor. The thugs targeted the vehicles belonging to Oshiomhole’s relations and friends and destroyed them. Thank God for the intervention of soldiers and other security officials who came to restore peace. This would not have happened if the thugs who invaded the community were not loyal to the deputy governor.
“However, Oshiomhole expresses his sincere apologies to the governor, the revered Oba of Lagos and the Chancellor over the unfortunate incident.”
The Deputy Governor, Shuaibu, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Musa Ebomhiana, washed his hands off all the accusations.
“The deputy governor could not have caused the unfortunate incident that happened this evening. The governor, his deputy, Oba of Lagos and their entourage were at the gate of the National Chairman of our great party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to pay him the usual homage since they were in his domain.
“Surprisingly, the large crowd that gathered at the gate brutally attacked the convoy, destroying three cars in the process. The convoy had to quickly turn and came back to the varsity campus. So, how did the Deputy Governor cause it? Could he have arranged his own attack? In fact, they were there on the invitation of the Comrade himself.”
However, it is believed that the embarrassing attack on the Governor and his guests was meant as retaliation for what took place in the Benin residence of Oshiomhole, where thugs loyal to the Governor allegedly stormed and caused damage there.
The Police questioned the veracity of that incident, but eye-witnesses at Saturday’s attacked allegedly spotted one Romeo said to be the cousin of the APC National Chairman.