The All Progressives Congress, APC has raised the alarm over the destruction and removal of all outdoor billboards and campaign posters of its party’s candidate for the Edo State governorship election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his running mate, Gani Audu from various strategic points in Benin City, the state capital. The party said it had submitted a petition to the state commissioner of police, Johnson Babatunde Kokumo “on this criminal act”. It stated that it would also forward the same to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Intimating journalists with this development at a press conference in Benin on Saturday, Patrick Obahiagbon, the National Vice-Chairman of the APC National Campaign Council said the party was convinced that “this act of intolerance, carried out with impunity, foreshadows what the Edo State Government has in store for the Edo voters and our supporters in the September 19 election following the emergence of incontrovertible facts that Mr. Godwin Obaseki is on his way to an embarrassing defeat”.
Obahiagbon described as unfortunate that as the chief executive of the state “who is expected to commit to peace, rule of law and avoidance of rancor, Governor Godwin Obaseki has continued to heat up the polity with reckless and provocative comments, media blackmail, and criminal actions of intolerance , including the mass destruction of opponent’s campaign materials”.
The APC said the destruction of its billboards took place on Thursday, July 16, 2020 “when the Edo State Government expressly told one Mr. Dave Giwa-Amu who is parading himself as the Managing Director of the Edo State Signage and Advertising Agency to commence immediate removal and destruction of our billboards”. This he said was in spite of the fact that “these outdoor billboards and indeed other campaign materials were duly paid for, designed and erected in full compliance with all legal requirements”.
Obahiagbon disclosed that the Edo State Signage and Advertising Agency “purportedly led by the so-called Mr. Dave Giwa-Amu, an avowed supporter of the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, is an agency that is yet to receive the assent of the Edo House of Assembly as the Bill for its creation and operations is still being considered in the legislative chamber. In essence, this agency, as of today, is unknown to the laws of Edo State and is visibly being weaponised by the State Government, an interested party in the election, to give itself an illegal, unfair, unethical, fraudulent advantage as we approach the polls”.
According to Obahiagbon, “This is an egregious and opprobrious escalation of other recorded acts of abuse of office and disregard for the law on the part of the Edo State Government. It is a new low for a state government and a Governor that has blurred and corrosively dimmed the lines on what is personal and official; what serves the interest of the state and that of the parochial interests of the man who leads it”.
The APC submitted that while it remained confident that Edo people already know where to place their thumbs on September 19 and would “not be cowed by the last kicks of a dying horse, we will nonetheless stop at nothing to ensure that the rule of law prevails in our state and that the Governor is made to come to terms with the fact that all constitutional powers have limits and responsibilities and that as it has been said by scholars, nobility commands responsibility”.
Edo State government has denied the allegation by APC insisting that it did not remove any campaign billboards. The government said the allegation was “a cheap blackmail to score lame political points.”
But reacting to the allegation, special adviser to the governor on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, described the allegation as “ludicrous and unfounded” and “belated antics of a routinely recycled politician who has nothing to offer to Edo people”. According to Osagie, “Anyone who knows Ize-Iyamu very well knows that this is his approach to politics. He raises the alarm and cries wolf when no one is chasing him. The state government has not removed any of his billboards. This is cheap blackmail to score lame political points.”
The governor’s aide said “Ize-Iyamu is a politician that assumes relevance during every election cycle. This is what he does for a living and has no other job. It is not surprising to see these statements from him and his team. He should not be taken seriously, and his statements should be disregarded.
“He would go back to his cocoon after he has been defeated at the September 19, 2020 election and would most likely resurface after four years to repeat this cycle. So, we are used to his childish charades”.