Tax Clash: 4 Feared Dead in Benin City


Four persons have reportedly been feared killed in a shoot-out as mayhem was set loose in the ancient Benin Kingdom, Benin City, Edo state over disagreements in tax collection. A source told that the ugly incident occurred along Lagos Street in Benin City where two of the victims, Rapheal Oke and Osamuyi Obaze, died on the spot while Prince Ebo Eweka, grandson of Princess Eweka of Benin Kingdom and another yet to be identified were rushed to an unknown hospital in very severe conditions.   An account has it that the shooting started when one of the tax collectors and Chairman of the Task Force Committee on the Protection of Pipeline Vandalization, Mr Osakpanwan Eriyo, allegedly defied the government's suspension order on revenue collection.   Mr. Osakpanwan Eriyo, according to dependable sources, was suspended for daring to assault Prince Ekpen Erediauwa, son of the Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa, who is presently the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Oredo Local Government Council.  

  It is alleged that the suspended Task Force chairman further directed his staff to go and collect levy from the market in Lagos Street which led to stiff resistance by Ogbe boys who were in solidarity with the palace over the assault on the Prince.  

  The fierce resistance along Lagos Street in Benin City, extended to the residence of the Arala of Benin Kingdom, Chief SD Omalayan Osula where the shoot-out leading to the deaths took place.  

  Mr. Osakpanwan Eriyo was also alleged to have stormed his residence of one Chief Arala Osula, with armed men, asking to stay away from the problems he (Mr. Osakpanwan Eriyo) had with the palace.  

  Chief Arala Osula, alleged that the incident occurred when the suspended Chairman of the Task Force Committee on the Protection of Pipeline Vandalization, Mr. Osakpanwan Eriyo stormed his residence with armed men, asking him to urge his children to stay away from the problem he had with the palace.  

  It was learnt that the two groups engaged in a gun battle which eventually led to the loss of lives.  

  Chief Osula who narrated the incident that led to the killing, said that 'the terrorist group decided to carry the fight to my house; Osakpanwa came this morning. He said he came to me to protest that my children went to join Prince Ekpen to fight him. But before we knew what was happening, his boys started shooting and two people were killed on the spot. 'This is terrorism in practice in Edo. We are waiting for the Governor to come and talk to us before we know what to do'.  

  Following the incidents, it has also been alleged that the Benin monarch has placed a curse on Mr Osakpanwan Eriyo for the allegedly causing mayhem in the ancient Benin Kingdom.  

  Meanwhile, the Benin Political Coalition, led by the former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Rowland Owie, the Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), led by its chairman, Comrade Agbons Uyigue, condemned the alleged assault on Prince Erediauwa and urged the police to investigate the matter and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.  

  The Police Public Relations Officer in Edo state, ASP Peter Ogboi, who confirmed the incident, said the police have stepped up action to arrest all those identified as the people who shot the victims.