Political tension heightened Thursday as teams of security agents drafted from various commands in Edo state laid siege to the Anthony Enahoro legislature at the Kings Square otherwise known as the Ring road in Benin the Edo state capital.
The hordes of security operatives were at the complex to protect the area from any invasion following speculation of alleged plot by forces of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to deploy special force from the headquarters of the Nigeria Police in Abuja to takeover the legislature.
This is as Governor Godwin Obaseki said that there was no cause for alarm over the alleged plan by opposition groups, assuring that he would deploy the instrument of power and law of the state and nation to protect the state and people of Edo State.
Obaseki had made a quick return back to Benin City from Edo north where he had been since Monday this week for his ongoing re-election campaign across the 18 local government areas of the state.
He was accompanied to the house of assembly complex by the state Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu.
Thousands of youths and members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stormed the house in solidarity for the governor.
The battle ready youths with placards had chanted solidarity songs even as they takeover the area.
Teams of the anti-riot police, State Security Services (SSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and plain cloth operatives were on ground with hundreds of patrol vehicles.
Activities of the security agencies were coordinated by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of operations, Mr. Ajala.
Investigations however showed the presence of strange looking policemen with “DRAGON” tags within the assembly complex.
Already, heaps of sand have been used to block the entrance gate of the assembly.
The Anthony Enahoro legislature is currently undergoing renovation.
There was hours of gridlock as crowd of party supporters prevented vehicular movement along the ring road area and adjoining areas.
Members of the house have since relocated to the Osadebay Avenue Government House due to the ongoing renovation exercise.
It was gathered that the team of special police were detailed to poised to forcefully takeover the assembly to pave way for the inauguration of 14 APC members elect.
It was further gathered that a retired deputy Clerk, Samuel Efezokhae was allegedly hired to inaugurate a parallel assembly that would take over the function of law making in the state.
Addressing newsmen outside the legislative complex, Okiye said, “It is our responsibility to defend the state house of assembly and that is exactly what we have demonstrated. For the records, I am happy His Excellency is here. We were inaundated with various rumours and all kinds of threat calls last night. If you recall yesterday (Wednesday) in our sitting we acted on a very reliable intelligent report that these people from Abuja were coming to invade the House to takeover the sovereignty of the house and sacred nature of the house and we made it clear to the public.”
“Unfortunately, the former Deputy Speaker was the one of the cohorts to be used and members were not comfortable with that. I don’t have the control; members raised a motion that his office must be changed,” Okiye stated.
It would be recalled that Speaker of the state Assembly, Mr. Frank Okiye, had Wednesday raised the alarm over alleged plot by the Governor of Imo State, Chief Hope Uzodinma and stakeholders in the APC in Edo State, to import a fake mace to violently take over the State House of Assembly.
Okiye, who spoke after the house plenary in Benin said the plot was to be executed in cahoots with the impeached Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yekini Idiaye.
According to him, “The dubious plan by the Governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodinma and stakeholders of the APC in Edo State to import a fake mace to take over the Edo State House of Assembly working in cahoots with the Deputy Speaker, who recently declared support for the candidate of the APC to congregate in a secret location to illegally and violently take over control of the Assembly has been brought to our notice.”
Okiye who warned of the grave consequences such a move which he said portends for democracy in Nigeria, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Presidency to urgently call the Imo State Governor and others working with him to execute this illegal plan to desist from their plans and allow the laws of the state to guide them.
“The state’s polity is already heated by the high political tension from the electioneering campaigns. Their planned action is akin to lighting a match in an already tensed political environment, which conflagration is capable of causing crisis in the state, and of a scale beyond our imagination.”
However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Media Campaign Council for the Edo Governorship election has rubbished claims by the Edo State Government that its leadership “ferried Police from Abuja” to block the Edo Assembly complex, stating that the APC, as a political party, does not control the Police.
In a statement released Thursday morning by Mr. John Mayaki, the Chairman of the State Media Campaign Council, the APC accused the Edo State Government of carrying out several onslaughts against the constitutional independence of the legislative arm of government by attacking its members-elect and denying them representation.
He said: “It is a known fact that the outgoing Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has treated the House of Assembly, an independent and co-equal branch of government, as a mere extension of his office through the brutalization of members-elect and the denial of representation to the majority of members.”
“In Gestapo style, the outgoing Governor hijacked a tiny minority and purportedly inaugurated them in the dead of the night. The sham inauguration was condemned and set aside by both arms of the National Assembly after their separate investigations revealed that the members, and indeed the Clerk, were forced to participate in the illegality under threat to life.”
“With these criminal antecedents, we believe if there is any unwholesome activity ongoing at the Assembly Complex, it is Mr. Godwin Obaseki who is in the best position to explain to the world what is going on and why.”
“Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, or the APC, does not control the Police. When Obaseki went to obtain a questionable court order challenging the position of Comrade as the APC National Chairman months back, he was locked out of the National HQ of the party in Abuja. If indeed he has any control over the Police, wouldn’t he have instructed them to leave and grant him entry?”
“The Edo State Government should explain to the world and Edo people what is going on. And they can start by explaining why a branch of government meant to carry out oversight functions and check the excesses of the Executive arm has been holding plenary inside the Government House for months over a supposed ‘fumigation and renovation exercise’ at the Assembly Complex’.”