By Osagie Otabor, Benin
WITH heavy hearts, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) governors yesterday called for a review of the security system.
The governors noted that the entire security agencies – the military, the police and the State Security Services (SSS) – are under the command of the Federal Government.
Governors Babatunde Fashola, Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) spoke in Benin City, the Edo State capital, during a condolence visit to Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole whose private secretary Olaitan Oyerinde was murdered on Friday.
The yet unknown gunmen, who hid under the darkness of night, shot Oyerinde dead in the presence of his wife and children.
The logic of the governors, who are leading advocates of state police, is that if state chief executives were in direct control of the police, crimes, such as murder, armed robbery, assassination and kidnapping, would, to a large extent, be nipped in the bud.
Aregbesola said the killings would not have taken place, if Oshiomhole was in full control of the security machine.
He said the killing confirmed what has been witnessed in the country generally which, in his view, is an indication of failure of governance.
“If you were the Chief Security Officer of this state, in full control of the security apparatus, this would not have happened, no matter how reckless the perpetrators of this heinous crime will want to be. The security situation in our land calls for a reform and reorganisation,” Aregbesola said, adding:
“But the situation we find ourselves in this country is that governors are merely called chief security officers of their various states, while the federal government is in direct control.”
Aregbesola expressed dismay that politics, which Nigeria’s founding fathers based on issues had been reduced “to miserable factional and base materialism by those who have nothing else to offer than their own greed”.
Oshiomhole described the late Oyerinde as a man with a passion for public service and a good sense of humour.
He said: “He knows the way my mind work. When I want to write a concrete letter, he knows how to do it even though he wasn’t my secretary. When I was leaving NLC, I looked around and said ‘I need someone who understands me’. I said, ‘you (Olaitan) join me for us to know this thing they call governance; if how we see outside is how it is still going to be’. That was how I brought him in.”
Oshiomhole, who regretted that no member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had been invited for questioning over the killings, said he has to look for other options to protect the people of the state because he cannot rely on the security apparatus.
Oshiomhole also warned that if after 12 days the police failed to find the killers, he would find them and deal with them even though he does not believe in blood for blood.
“We have the capacity to cage the godfather and return blood for blood. We won’t just go and sleep. We have to resolve how we want to run it and I am not ready to be looking as if my tenure is at the mercy of anybody. Only the people of Edo State can determine that,” he said.
Oshiomhole also disclosed that “the godfather – he did not name him – “had been using President Goodluck Jonathan’s name to campaign, telling the people that he has the President’s backing to use any means to win the governorship election.
Oshiomhole said he had enough security report indicting the “godfather” for the killings and attempted killings in the last two weeks.
He called on “the Abuja Judge’’ to call “the godfather” to order “or we will call him to order”.
Fashola, who described Oyerinde’s murder as “shocking” and “cruel”, expressed sadness that though elections were meant to be about developmental issues and a contest of ideas, some politicians have turned it into a mindless orgy of violence.
He said: “We have come to sympathise with you and the people of Edo State over this very sad and unfortunate incident. We have come to express our solidarity and also to condemn the spate of violence that is manifesting in the run up to the election in this state.
“We have come to commiserate with you and to urge you to continue with the good work that you’ve been doing in this state since you took office. We also wish to convey our sympathy to the family of your aide who was the victim of this incident.”
Praying that God would comfort the people of Edo State, especially the family of the deceased, Fashola said: “We are saddened by what we see but we urge you to remain focused; be a man of peace; continue to be a man of ideas.”
He enjoined Oshiomhole “to keep to the track of peace, a track of democracy and a track of service to the people of Edo State which you have been known to tread”. Although the period could be very challenging “but we believe that if you remain focused, the challenges will create opportunities for the people of Edo State”, Fashola said.
The Governors also visited the widow and children of the late Oyerinde.
Fayemi expressed shock at the murder, saying the late Oyerinde was a link between him and Oshiomhole. Anytime he could not reach his Edo State counterpart, he would get in touch with the late Oyerinde for any information he needed, he said.
He described the late Oyerinde as a very articulate and hardworking person, pointing out that while working in Edo State, he was also monitoring events in other ACN states “just to ensure that the developments which have become the watchword of our various administrations are not being compromised”.
“We know we cannot query God, but we have the right to ask ourselves why bad things happen to good people. Olaitan was a principled fighter; I have known him since our days in the Labour movement and I have related with him just as all of our colleagues have in one way or the other related with him,” the governor said.
Condoling the late Oyerinde’s wife, Fayemi said: “We will not be deterred. What I want to say to our sister and the children and the rest of the family members is that God, in his infinite mercy, will give her the courage, the fortitude in these difficult times, to trudge on as father and mother now to the children.”
Assuring Oshiomhole of the support of the ACN governors for the family of the late Oyerinde, Fayemi said: “But, like in our own way, we know Olaitan was like a son to you and among ourselves, as your colleagues in this struggle for freedom and justice and democracy for our people, we have also collectively decided that we will do our own quota in supporting the family of our fallen comrade and we want to reassure them that Comrade Olaitan did not and will not die in vain.
“For those who think they have the licence and the freedom to destroy life, let us assure them that they will not get away with this particular murder because we are convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that this is not mere armed robbery attack.”
Oshiomhole thanked his colleagues for the visit, saying it had further strengthened him to continue in his avowed service to the people of Edo State knowing that he is not alone.
Throwing more light on the death of his aide, Oshiomhole said the incident was part of a well articulated plan by the opposition who, according to him, met in the house of a leading politician with their candidate and two others in attendance.
According to him, the meeting reviewed the situation in the state and, knowing that the coming election would not be in their favour, decided to cause confusion through accidents and assassinations of his close aides that would look like armed robbery. He said they also planned to kidnap people.
Oshiomhole, who said he invited the Commissioner of Police and gave him a letter detailing the plan, noted that Oyerinde’s murder came 48 hours after his meeting with the Police Commissioner, adding: “So, there is no doubt that Olaitan was assassinated.”
Describing the deceased as an intelligent and committed man with a passion for public service, Oshiomhole said although people were eager to react to the murder, he advised them to keep calm, adding: “I like to fight electoral battle but not to shed the blood of innocent people. I do not want to play the game their way; otherwise, they will brand us the same.”
“I have told the Police that if it becomes so clear that we cannot rely on them for maintaining adequate security in the state, we have to look at other options because we have to protect ourselves.
“We are giving the police time. We will not just go to sleep. If they do not find the killers, we will find them and when we do, we will have to deal with them. We will not leave them like that.”
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