Armed thugs invade Edo lawmakers' quarters, many cars destroyed

By Punch

Hoodlums on Saturday morning attacked the legislative quarters of the Edo State House of Assembly in Benin, vandalising property worth millions of naira.

The action deepened the crisis in the state assembly. Our correspondent gathered that the armed hoodlums, numbering over 100, forced their way into the premises located at Iyama Road of the city at about 6:30am, after overpowering the security personnel at the entrance.

The attack caused the occupants to scamper to safety. When our correspondent got to the scene, some of the windows of the apartments were shattered while bullet holes were seen on some of the vehicles and doors.

The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who arrived at the scene of the incident at about 11am, was conducted round the quarters by the Speaker, Uyi Igbe, condemned the attack on the lawmakers and their family members.

The governor also accused the Peoples Democratic Party of masterminding the mayhem.

He also took a swipe at the police, alleging that they 'granted permission' for the attack.

Addressing newsmen after the inspection, Oshiomhole said, 'The PDP leaders had a meeting where it was decided that thugs should be recruited to come and perpetrate this attack.

'It is very clear that the police granted permission for this attack because the Commissioner of Police was informed at about 10:00pm last night of the plan of the PDP to attack the legislative quarters and the APC office.

'We made this intelligence available to the commissioner of police and what we then saw was that even the minimal police presence here was vacated so that these thugs could come and have a free reign of terror. It was conveyed to the CP last night that they were going to assemble at George Idah Primary School.'

He added, 'They actually assembled at George Idah Primary School this morning before they proceeded and the police provided supervision for this very serious criminal act. It is very clear that the police command leadership granted permission to the PDP to carry out this heinous crime.'

The governor also lamented that the PDP in the state, sought to make the state ungovernable, rather than share the concern of President Goodluck Jonathan, who is a member of the party, to address the challenges of insurgency in the country.

He said, 'I think for all Nigerians, at a time when we are confronted by insurgency and other forms of violent crime, one will expect that any functionary of the other party will share the concern of the President on peace and security.

'Some of the PDP leaders in Edo State having lost out and rejected by the people believe that they can create a situation that will make Edo State ungovernable and create complete distraction in their futile calculation that they can remove themselves from power.

'This is a very dangerous thing. I am not so much worried about the violent character of the PDP, I am more worried by what seems to be the police readiness to provide them with cover.'

Oshiomhole, while warning the major opposition party in the state, said, 'Power is very transient,' gave the assurance that his administration would not be distracted from its constitutional duty of governance.

He said, 'My warning to PDP is that power is very transient. Today you are in power, tomorrow you are out of power. Any crime you have committed and the present political order covers you, when the order changes, you will report to justice.

'Yesterday (Friday) at the airport, the President came and, in line with my conviction that he is the President of Nigeria and not of a particular party, I went to receive him. When he was here two weeks ago to address a rally, I went to the airport to receive him. For me, that is the idea of politics. It is not war. It should not be so primitive.

'Yesterday (Friday) again, I went to the airport to receive the President for the ground breaking ceremony of a private sector investment which we jointly midwifed with over $800 million. This same Pastor Ize-Iyamu organised rascals and they were abusing themselves.'

But the leadership of the Edo State PDP, while briefing journalists in Benin on Saturday, dismissed the allegations that the party masterminded the attack at the premises of the lawmakers.

The State Chairman of the party, Mr. Dan Orbih, debunked the claim that a meeting was held late on Friday night where they hatched the plot.

He said that the only activity conducted on Friday was to welcome the President to the state.

Orbih said, 'There is no truth whatsoever in the governor's allegations. After welcoming Mr. President to Edo State on Friday, many of us went to our houses, had a light dinner and went to bed.

'It is common knowledge that what happened might have been born out of the attack on Rasaq Momoh and the fact that those accused are now free today. What happened this morning was not the work of our party. We believe in the law enforcement agencies to deal with the situation.'

While saying the police would not 'join issues with anybody,' the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Foluso Adebanjo, told our correspondent on telephone that the state command had arrested 12 persons in connection with the Saturday attack.

He also claimed that the vehicle purportedly used to convey the attackers had been recovered, adding that more arrests would be made.

'We do not want to join issues with anybody. All I can say is that we have arrested about 12 and we have recovered the vehicle that they used.'

'We are in a meeting now and we are going to get more and more. We will not allow any lawlessness being perpetrated by political gladiators,' Adebanjo said.