BENIN CITY – Edo State Government yesterday raised fresh alarm over threat to the governor’s life with a claim that an unidentified aircraft overflew his country home in Iyamoh, Auchi for several minutes in low altitude Monday evening.
Coming days after a contingent of troops were reportedly stationed around Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s private residence, the Edo State Government wondered what could have warranted an aerial surveillance of the chief executive of an opposition state this time.
It is recalled that the state government and the army authorities had engaged in a war of words over the camping of soldiers near the same compound barely three days to the Presidency/National Assembly polls. EDSG believed it was to intimidate the governor, the South-south coordinator of APC Presidential campaign and a vocal supporter of General Muhammadu Buhari. However, the Commander of the Army Fourth Brigade, Brigadier-General Olajide Laleye, said it was only a routine exercise.
In a statement signed by the State Commissioner for Information & Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion, Edo government warned that outgoing President Jonathan Goodluck, as the leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), would bear responsibility if any harm befell Comrade Oshiomhole.
Mr. Odion’s statement read: “Even as all peace-loving citizens of Nigeria are still rejoicing and the international community happy over the relative peace witnessed nationwide after APC presidential candidate was formally declared winner of the March 28 elections, we note with grave concern that some anti-democratic forces seem bent on fomenting trouble in Edo State by embarking on acts of sheer provocation.
“At about 6PM Monday (April 6), a low-flying aircraft emerged from the blues and for several minutes overflew the country-home of the Comrade Governor in Iyamoh, Etsako West Local Government Area. Fortunately, the incident occurred barely few minutes after the Comrade departed for Benin City.
“To us, there could only be two possibilities in the circumstance: either a military or civil aircraft. Knowing that no such flight or mission could have taken place without the knowledge or clearance of either the civil aviation authority or the Air Force, we find this development not only an unconscionable abuse of state powers but also an extreme act of provocation. Had the Comrade Governor not providentially left home before the mystery aircraft’s arrival, we can only imagine what could have happened if his security guards were left with no choice than to take a peremptory action.
“Only penultimate Thursday (March 26), we had cause to alert the nation to the deployment of an unusually large contingent of troops around the Comrade Governor’s private residence in Iyamoh. Responding, the Army authority in Benin said it was part of the security arrangement for the March 28 polls. Similarly, the Comrade Governor expressed grave concern over a secret donation of vehicles including 13 Hilux vans to the Army on the eve of election by a PDP chieftain and Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolemenmen.
“We expressed fear of bias against the Army over this. Our fear was proved right eventually on Election Day as APC strongholds particularly in Edo South and Edo North were completely militarized with the wanton harassment and summary detention of APC leaders by security agents while the polls lasted.
“Having been soundly beaten in the presidential ring, we are aware that PDP is presently sorely bitter and, like a decapitated serpent, is looking for a target or anyone perceived as staunch Buhari supporter to hurl the venom left in its belly.
“While we cannot deny them their right to grieve, let it be noted that Edo people will not offer PDP any consolation prize on April 11th as they will, this time, resist any attempt to steal their ballot through Army intimidation. Let it also be noted that as the head of PDP, outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan will bear personal responsibility should any harm before the Comrade Governor.”
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