…Raises alarm over proliferation of firearms
Ahead of the September 19 Governorship election in Edo state, the All Progressives Congress APC has asked the Governor of Edo state, Mr Godwin Obaseki not to be too desperate to get reelected, counselling him on the need to understand that his ambition is not worth the blood of any Edo citizen.
At a news conference Friday in Abuja, the APC National Campaign Council also raised the alarm about the importation of political thugs from neighbouring states of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
The position of the APC was made known by a former member, House of Representatives and Vice Chairman, Communication and Publicity committee of the council, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon who was flanked by the committee chairman, Prince John Mayaki.
According to him, firearms are now being used freely in the state by thugs as if the arms were “political chewing gums”.
PDP had earlier accused the APC of stoking violence with a view to getting the elections postponed in order to allow it more time to perfect plans to manipulate the process.
Obaseki had specifically accused the APC of perpetrating “violence and creating the impression that Edo State is not safe, such that the federal government could declare a state-of-emergency and postpone the election.
“They want to cause violence and anarchy so that the election will be postponed. We appeal to opposition party to allow peace reign in the land”, the governor had said.
However, the APC Campaign Council accused the PDP of using violence to intimidate the people in order to encourage voter apathy during the polls.
Obahiagbon said; “Let the whole world tell Gov. Godwin Obaseki that his second term ambition is not worth the blood and life of any Edo state citizen.
“Less than one month to the Edo Governorship election, and with defeat staring Mr. Godwin Obaseki and his party of tax-collectors, the PDP, in the face, they have both abandoned their pretense at democracy and guided participation in the election, and brazenly embarked on the execution of their plans to prevent the people of Edo State from delivering a verdict on the four-year misrule of Obaseki at the polls on the 19th of September with violence and other criminal acts of intimidation.
“Let it be known by the whole world that the Governor of Edo state and his government, in continuation of their disregard for the rule of law, democratic ethics and constitutionalism, has intensified their illegal importation of dangerous arms and ammunition, as well as the daily recruitment and importation of notorious thugs and criminals from neighboring PDP States, particularly Delta, for the purpose of causing mayhem and disrupting the peaceful conduct of the election in most parts of Edo State, said Obahiagbon.
He said while APC leaders in the state are constantly being harassed, some elements are “also tinkering with the idea of using heavy duty trailers to orchestrate road accidents of APC leaders, before or on the day of the September 19th Governorship elections”.
The council said it was alarmed at the rapid multiplication of these firearms and the now-too-common presence of violent groups with prolific ammunition who are on the march with the Edo state Governor as he campaigns from place to place and in the process terrorizing the people.
“Rather than excite, Mr. Governor’s campaign trail has now become a bad omen, a harbinger of evil, and a stage of wanton violence and shootings, causing residents to flee their homes upon hearing news of the outgoing Governor’s visit.
“This was indeed the case on Wednesday, August 19th, in Igueben LGA when thugs hired and armed by the Edo state government, turned their guns on each other and shot an innocent citizen in the fracas that ensued.
“We are equally aghast at the fact that a Governor that spent four years chasing away investors from Edo State with his tyranny, bad faith and targeted policies, and destruction of people’s legitimate properties on the account of their political views, has now committed state resources to the mobilization of thugs, cult groups and other criminals into the state to carry out his plans all in a bid to avoid a fate he sealed for himself with his incompetence and aloof disposition.
“All of these show clearly that the outgoing Edo state Governor has become desperate and now willing to muzzle his way back to government house but must Edo state become a carnage field of blood, tears, sorrows and deaths for the realization of his second term aspirations?
“We are not only condemning, in the strongest of terms, this daily distribution of illegal arms to mobilized thugs, we demand an investigation and arrests that will be followed by swift prosecution as a mark of seriousness on the part of the security agencies to protect the integrity of the September 19 election.
“Arms proliferation has fueled insecurity in Nigeria for years and we are convinced that by clamping down on Governor Godwin Obaseki and his agents of terror, who on a daily basis are funneling state funds to the illegal acquisition and distribution of weapons, the security agencies would be laying a marker in the sand and sending a strong signal to other perpetrators of this crime that it would no longer be business as usual.
“Nothing warrants nor justify this undemocratic inclination to violence where the exchange of ideas should reign supreme. The protection of the integrity of the Edo Governorship election from the brooding and sprawling violence of Mr. Godwin Obaseki is a collective obligation that must be shared by all well-meaning citizens and groups interested in the survival of democracy and the constitutional right and freedom of the people to determine the leadership of their state and their representatives in government”.