Embattled deputy governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, yesterday, vowed to proceed with his campaign to succeed Governor Adams Oshiomhole despite alleged assassination attempt on him.
It will be recalled that a policeman, an operative of the Department of State Services, DSS, and six others were injured during the attack on the APC secretariat in Auchi, during the deputy governor’s visit to the area, the home base of the governor.
Director of Strategy, Research and Planning of the Odubu Campaign Organisation, Mr. Samson Osagie, who briefed newsmen in the presence of Odubu, yesterday, in Benin on what transpired during the attack, said the national headquarters of the party must urgently intervene to save the party from sliding into total crisis.
“We thank God that our deputy governor was not hit by bullets as it was obvious that the attack was orchestrated directly at his person and geared towards disrupting the aims of the campaign. For us in Odubu Campaign Organisation, we believe that this act of cowardice being perpetrated by those who dread a free, fair and credible democratic contest is another attempt to intimidate, harass and put pressure on the deputy governor to quit the governorship race or be eliminated.
“We need to emphasize that as an ardent and firm believer in the tenets of democracy, Dr. Odubu will continue to market himself to the delegates of the APC with a view to getting them to nominate him as the flag bearer of the party.
“You will all also recall that Saturday’s attempt to exterminate the deputy governor is only a high point of events targeted at his person and his governorship ambition. You are all aware of the spate of illegal suspension of party officers supportive of his ambition earlier, and the almost daily removal of political appointees from office who dared to associate with his ambition.
“This, to us, is the height of naked display of cruelty, animosity, intolerance, gross irresponsibility and man’s inhumanity to man. Let us be reminded that in a democracy, it is only the people that have the right to choose their leaders. And for those who seek to spill blood (as they attempted on Saturday), on account of mere party nomination exercise, the God of justice shall bring judgment upon them,” he said.
Reacting to the incident, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, yesterday, said: “While we condemn in very strong terms the ugly incident at Auchi, we note, however, that the conclusion of the Odubu Campaign Organisation on alleged assassination attempt appears hasty as preliminary reports suggest that the fracas at Auchi was caused by thugs loyal to the Odubu campaign imported in two truck-loads to Auchi who attacked other party loyalists not disposed to the deputy governor’s aspiration.
“It is instructive to note that the deputy governor was inside the secretariat building of the APC in the company of the party’s Chairman in the local government, Alhaji Umoru Akokhia, addressing the delegates while thugs loyal to him who had become unruly, fired gunshots at other APC loyalists who were outside protesting against his visit.
“We gathered authoritatively that the first shots were, in fact, fired by Odubu’s security details in an attempt to scare away the party faithful who were against the hoodlums imported to their domain by the Odubu Campaign Organisation, before thugs loyal to him fired at the party’s loyalists.
“It should be noted that among those who sustained injuries were APC loyalists who are presently receiving medical attention in the hospital. It is laughable that the Odubu Campaign Organisation will allege that the deputy governor, with full compliments of security details, was shot at, yet no casualty was recorded on the other side and nobody apprehended.
“Given the above scenario, we find it lousy for anyone to impute assassination theory as propounded by the Odubu Campaign Organisation, especially when investigations are still ongoing and the Police are yet to submit their findings on the fracas. A responsible campaign organisation should have waited for investigation reports before jumping to reckless conclusions,” the statement read. Oshiomole had in the past accused his deputy of trying to get rid of him.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Abubakar Akokia, chairman of the party in Etsako West, where the attack occurred said “Yesterday (Saturday), the deputy governor visited us. Before he came, there were hoodlums everywhere. I even asked the people who they were and to leave, that the deputy governor only came to address delegates. But they said no, they were his supporters. So I left them.
“When the deputy governor came, I took him inside our office. The crowd was chanting you don win, you don win. We were trying to calm them down but nobody listened to us. That was when tension heightened. I called for opening prayers and we did that. While we were doing all these inside, we were hearing songs outside, you don win, you don win. But hoodlums were now shooting seriously. Fortunately, no life was lost. But three or four persons sustained injuries.”