The major opposition party in Edo State, the All Progressives Congress, APC, claims that it has received information of a sinister plot by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to rope in the party [APC] in a stage-managed attack on the state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu. The party further alleged that the special adviser to the governor on security, Yusuf Haruna is the mastermind of the plot, an allegation Haruna vehemently denied.
Raising the alarm on Tuesday at a press conference in Benin, the APC alerted that “In a shocking revelation, it has been shown that the Edo State Government, in connivance with a retired police officer from Kogi State who has been identified in series of violent plots in Edo State and beyond, Mr. Yusuf Haruna, is plotting to stage an attack on their own convoy, specifically that of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu, in a bid to draw sympathy, pose as victims, and set the stage for a new wave of violent onslaught on the people of Edo State, some of whom have fallen victims to the reckless shootings of the Governor’s army of thugs and criminals”.
The state APC chairman, David Imuse, a retired Army Colonel, said reports available to the party indicated that “Mr. Yusuf Haruna, the mastermind of this disgraceful strategy, has already recruited armed thugs for the mission with careful instruction to do enough damage on cars and other disposable items for the media drama that will follow,” adding that “Correspondingly, the propaganda wing and fake news milling machine of the PDP and Mr. Godwin Obaseki have also prepared pre-written scripts containing false and imagined details of how the Deputy Governor “escaped” an attack on his convoy”.
Imuse posited that the plan was that “by upstaging this violent act, they can mischievously and falsely allege that it is the doings of the APC carried out to foil their ‘booming and flourishing campaign’ when in truth, their campaign has collapsed as they are met with rejection in all communities and wards of Edo State…”. He said as a matter of fact, this “reprehensible strategy” foreshadowed the governor’s “full-blown resort to violence as a way to disrupt the election having seen, first-hand, that he stands no chance of victory and will fall embarrassingly to the voting might of Edo people who are tired of his divisive politics, violence, and lies”.
The APC also alleged that the PDP and the governor resorted to staging attacks on their own convoy as a way to elicit pity and bring attention to their empty campaign. This tactic according to the APC, “reveals the deep hollowness of the PDP as a party that has run out of fresh and new ideas, hence resorting to desperate measures to disrupt the peaceful conduct of an election it is convinced beyond all doubts that it has no chance of winning”.
According to Imuse, “The principal actors in Edo State Government cannot deny the validity of this now leaked information and plan. The most glaring and indicting factor is easily revealed through asking a simple question: what is Yusuf Haruna, a man who is not from Edo but from Kogi State, and has since retired from the Nigeria Police Force as a Superintendent, doing in the cabinet of Mr. Godwin Obaseki as an adviser on security?” However, the party did not explain why it belives that not being an indigene disqualifies Haruna from serving as security aide to the governor. It will be recalled that former governor Adams Oshiomhole, a chieftain of APC, had as private secretary the late Olaitan Oyerinde who was not an indigene of Edo State.
But the opposition party claims that Haruna’s expertise has not impacted the security situation in the state. It says, “If his advice were useful, how come Edo State, in the unfortunate four-year reign of the outgoing Obaseki, recorded more crimes, including kidnappings and gruesome murders, than most states in the South-South region, including those battling militancy? It is clear to all that Mr. Yusuf Haruna, having retired from the Police but now eyeing a place in mainstream politics, is now the faithful henchman of Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
“Mr. Yusuf Haruna now serves as a pliable tool in Obaseki’s hands to stage violence, assemble cultists and other criminals, and use otherwise classified information obtained through years of service in the Police to perfect illegal proliferation of arms into the wrong hands with hopes that in return, the embattled Governor and his other political allies will fund his political ambitions”.
Imuse said the APC was alerting the whole world “to this evil and mischievous plan of the PDP so they do not waste their pity on the drama Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Philip Shaibu, and Haruna are already getting set to stage in the coming days”. While also repeating its appeal to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to immediately commence the promised clampdown on arms proliferation in the state, the APC also called for the prosecution of all previously arrested persons, “particularly the seven who were caught with guns within the premises of the Edo State House of Assembly complex on the day Mr. Godwin Obaseki violated the sanctity of the hallowed chambers and offered the greatest affront to our democracy in Edo State in recent times by leading a retinue of thugs and his party men to vandalize and destroy the complex to prevent majority house members from carrying out their legislative duties”.
However in his reaction to the weighty allegation against him, Haruna, special adviser to the governor on security, was in no mood to join issues with his accusers. Dismissing the allegation as a non-issue, Haruna said “I don’t know what he (Imuse) is talking about. I am just hearing it for the first time. I am not a thug and I don’t know thugs. You should ask Imuse to prove his case beyond doubt”. Haruna cautioned that “People should not just make political statements and go to their house and sleep” positing that “I don’t know what he is talking about; and in fact, it does not make any sense. Maybe he has just taken a bottle of ogogoro and he doesn’t know what he is talking about. It is him you should interrogate more”.
Also joining issues with the APC, Shaibu, the state deputy governor, vowed to take a legal action against those he claimed had drifted from true tenets of democratic contest to engage in “witchcraft activities” in the name of politics. Special assistant to the deputy governor on media, Benjamin Atu, said “This is a legal matter; it’s not a media issue. They have 48 hours to organize another press conference to reverse themselves, and apologise to the Deputy Governor and people of Edo State over their lies or face the wrath of Government in the court of law with evidence of their claims.”
In a press release titled “This Is Not Political Statement but Witchcraft,” Atu said “We are giving them 48hours to get their legal team handy. This is not how to be a politician. This is character defamation and direct attack on the Deputy Governor”. According to Atu, “I am not writing to debunk what doesn’t exist; nothing to debunk because you can’t put something on nothing. We are strangers to this issue and have no idea where this came from. They seem to forget that truth like cork cannot sink… Lies must eventually collapse when face to face with facts. All they have said in their press conference are all heap of rubbish”.