As Nigerians are aware, it is now about 39 days to the governorship election scheduled for September 19, 2020 in Edo State. The coming election has unfortunately heightened security challenges in the State to cause Edo people much worries. We have therefore embarked on this protest to solicit the support of Nigerians and the international community to help in pressuring the Federal Government of Nigeria to enforce the Rule of Law and ensure there is peace, before the election, peace during the election, and peace after the election in the State.
Similarly, we request the Federal Government to implement a coherent security strategy to ensure the elections are free, fair and represent the true will of the people. As stated earlier, it is barely 5 weeks to the election and we are beginning to witness an unprecedented level of verbal and physical attacks on the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki, his Deputy, and their supporters.
Of particular note, and in the full glare of the Nigerian police last week, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his campaign entourage were attacked by political thugs and hoodlums loyal to the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Apana and Irakho communities, which are contiguous communities to the ex- Chairman’s country home in Edo North Senatorial zone.
It is important to note that this is the third time that an attempt would be made to attack or intimidate the Governor and Chief Security Officer of Edo State, whose core mandate it is to protect the lives and property of residents of the state.
The first attempt on the life of the Governor was made at the home of Comrade Adams Oshiomole , when the Governor, in the company of His Royal Majesty, Oba Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos a few months ago were courteously going to pay compliments to the then National Chairman of APC.
It drew a public outcry from Nigerians, who thought that their warnings will be heeded not to turn Edo elections into a theatre of terror. But, it seems the former National Chairman and his new candidate, are determined to draw blood in Edo State election.
We say this because, at commencement of the Edo 2020 campaigns, the second attack occurred at no less a revered venue, than the Palace of His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin.
Hoodlums hired by Ize Iyamu, who have styled themselves lions and tigers, because of their ferocity pounced on the Governor and other states governors and members of the PDP campaign council that were paying a courtesy call on the Royal Father. We must remind Nigerians that the candidate proudly holds meetings with these thugs and advises them to turn against INEC guidelines and our laws. The meetings are captured in videos that are viral. Nigerians were again uproarious in condemning the despicable act at the Oba’s palace. Yet again, their warnings fell on deaf ears. Instead, it seems to have provoked them to be even more daring, which explains why they became more hasty to carry out the most recent attack. This one was during a recent rally in Afuze, Owan East LGA in Edo North.
It is pertinent to note that the provocations are now becoming more frequent and brazen. Edo State election is only a few weeks away from Ondo’s own and both state are in close proximity, yet, whereas Ondo State is in peace, Edo State is near boiling point, because Adams Oshiomole, who sees his candidate’s victory as a ticket back to political reckoning, would stop at nothing to achieve that. He will fail! It is equally noteworthy that no single arrest has been made, despite the fact that these attacks occur in the full glare of the Nigerian Police, DSS and other security operatives in the State.
In addition to the flagrant disregard for the Office of the Governor, his supporters have also been victims of this viciousness. At least, 12 supporters were hospitalized after the attack at the Palace of the Oba of Benin, with no less than 22 vehicles destroyed by these employed thugs. These thugs openly brandish dangerous weapons and brag about the impending doom that will befall opponents of the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. They attack citizens at will, destroy property and billboards, wreak havoc in the open markets and threaten anyone who holds a differing view from theirs.
It has become a very worrisome situation, especially as the federal government ‘s security operatives look helplessly on at this criminality. The signs are ominous to say the least.
So we insist that the Federal government must assure Edo people of peace and security in this September 19 election in Edo State. They can start by enforcing seriously, the Inspector General of Police’s order that all arm and ammunitions in the hands of unauthorized persons, especially thugs and hoodlums are mopped up with speed.
We also call on the international community to pay closer attention to the Edo election and put pressure to bear on INEC to conduct a free and fair election in the State. INEC must also ensure that only credible observers are accredited to objectively observe the elections. INEC must not allow itself to be pressured into postponement of the election, or contriving an inconclusive election.