The Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has raised the alarm over a strange dispatch of a team of Police officers, numbering over 50, to Okpella community where they are occupying the private residence of a political appointee of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
A statement by the Chairman of the Media Campaign Council, Mr John Mayaki said this strange development has caused apprehension in the town as residents express worry over planned violent intimidation ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
According to Mayaki, “The Police officers were reportedly deployed on the orders of the Governor Godwin Obaseki and have set camp in the building of one Lukman Akemokue, a political aide and ally of the Deputy Governor, who relocated his mother from the building to make room for the officers.
“Residents of numerous surrounding communities in the area have lamented the Police officers’ night movements characterized by indiscriminate shootings, shouts of obscenities, and other bizarre acts of intimidation which they claim were aimed at inducing fear ahead of the polls.
“It is important to note that Okpella has recorded large numbers of movements from the PDP to the APC in the past few weeks, as residents declare their intention to back the bid of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu over failure by the Obaseki-led administration to keep his promises to them after four years.
“Prominent amongst former members of the PDP who have openly declared support for the APC and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is Prince Kassim Afegbua, a chieftain of the PDP and popular political figure of Okpella, who rejected Governor Godwin Obaseki for drawing revenue from Okpella through its abundant resources but refusing to re-invest in the area to ensure infrastructure development and good standard of living.
“The dispatch of the Police officers has been interpreted as a desperate tactic by the Governor and his allies to scare away voters to prevent the anticipated embarrassing defeat expected on the 19th of September”, Mayaki said.
Meanwhile, Mayaki said the APC will do a formal petition to the State Commissioner of Police, CP Johnson Kokumo, and the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Muhammed, to probe the dispatch of the officers to Okpella and why they are occupying the private residence of the governor’s aide.
Mayaki said it amounts to a violation of the objective stance expected of security agencies, including officers of the Nigeria Police Force, to embark on a secret mission to an area where the incumbent is not popular and be housed in a private residence of a political appointee to terrorize communities.
While expressing doubt that the State Commissioner of Police approved the disturbing operation which bodes ill for the peaceful conduct of the election in Okpella, Mayaki nonetheless vowed to uncover the truth with a petition demanding a full explanation and the immediate evacuation of the officers from Lukman Akemokue’s residence.
In a swift response, the Special Adviser to Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, has said that the increased police presence noticed in Okpella, Agenebode, Akoko Edo and other parts of the state is not out of the norm.
According to Osagie, “With just a month to the gubernatorial poll in Edo State, security agencies are stepping up their activities across the state. This should not be misconstrued by anyone.
“The claims by the All Progressives Congress (APC) is strange because anyone who means well for Edo people should commend the police for doing their job. The APC should not fret if they have no sinister plans.”
He urged Edo people to cooperate with men of the various security agencies and assist with the information where necessary so that the forthcoming election will be peaceful, free and fair.