It’s been allegation and counter-allegation as the two leading political parties in Saturday’s election – the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, trade blames over the violence that erupted at Owina Primary School, Benin City polling centre in which three suspected political thugs were shot. While the victims claimed they were shot by PDP thugs allegedly led by one Rotimi Adams, aka. Shaaba, the PDP claimed the said Shaaba was nowhere near the election arena in Ward 3, Oredo local government area on that day.
The state governor, Godwin Obaseki, who visited the victims yesterday at the Central Hospital, Benin, has however, charged the police to smoke out the perpetrators. He vowed to work with security agencies to bring the attackers to book. Consoled that no life was lost, Obaseki said “we are lucky; it could have been worse with more casualty and loss of lives. Thank God the victims are alive. We will get to the bottom of what happened at the voting center”. APC youth leader, Valentine Asuen, said the suspected thugs were armed with dangerous weapons, and inflicted various degrees of injuries on three persons, and destroyed their vehicles.
The PDP, however, debunked the allegation, describing it as laughable and concocted. The party dismissed the governor’s visit to the hospital as part of the state APC propaganda. In a statement by its publicity secretary, Chris Nehikhare, the PDP accused Obaseki of paying lip service to peaceful elections, stating that “isn’t it absurd that the governor is only interested in the purported attack on his party members, but no word on the attack on Western Boys High school, Payne Primary School, Urhokpota hall and many others!” Nehikhare wondered what the APC youth leader and his “thugs” were doing there, stressing that “Mr. Valentine Asuen is not a registered voter in Owina Primary school in Ward 3. It’s even more ridiculous that APC members were the only ones that were attacked. The story is not only concocted, but laughable. … thugs attack a school, single out APC members for attack. Other voters and INEC staff spared…!”
The PDP chided the government for making unsubstantiated comments about Shaaba, positing that it exposed the desperation of its party “as they realize every passing moment that APC has once again been rejected by Edo people”. Nehikhare recalled how the PDP had raised the alarm that its members, “especially many of the recently decamped, were being harassed and intimidated with arrest and detention. You will also recall that I specifically mentioned Shaaba as one of those that they were desperate to remove from circulation. His only sin is that he dumbed APC and joined PDP. He was nowhere near Owina Primary School on the said day”. Both parties have however called for calm by their members in order not to aggravate the problem. The PDP called on the security agencies to do their jobs and not allow anyone tele-guide them.