Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, last night condemned the attack on him, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the first Chancellor of the Edo University, Dr. Aderemi Makanjuola as well as other guests at the residence of a former governor of the State and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
But Oshiomhole, who was thoroughly embarrassed by the development and apologised profusely, however, claimed the thugs acted on the orders of the deputy governor of the state, Philip Shaibu.
Curiously, moments before the attacks, Oshiomhole had spoken glowingly about the governor and hailed him for sustaining his legacies at a ceremony, which witnessed the installation of the Chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Aderemi Makanjuola, as Chancellor of the university as well as his decoration with Honorary Degree of Doctors of Science, (Honoris Causa).
Addressing journalists after the attacks, the governor took exception to the resort to violence, noting that it was both shameful and unfortunate for such an attack to take place at the residence of the National Chairman of the ruling party in the state and at the national level.
“It is very unfortunate that we can’t feel safe in the house of our National Chairman. I am not sure that if I visit the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) they will attack me the way they did in the house of the APC National Chairman.
“It is unfortunate that things have degenerated to this extent. But we will continue to sue for peace. We cannot afford to lose the gains of the last three years. We will continue to pursue peace,” he added.
But Oshiomhole, who also described the incident at the gate of his residence as unfortunate, first apologised to Obaseki, Oba Akiolu, and Makanjuola, all of whom he claimed to hold in high esteem, before accusing the deputy governor of instigating the attack.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Simon Ebegbulem, Oshiomhole said the tension in the community began last Friday, when the deputy governor imported thugs into the community with a view to intimidating political opponents.
He said the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who delivered a lecture at the convocation ceremony on Friday, had insisted that the thugs who were disturbing the public must stop the noisemaking before he could commence his lecture, albeit with the help of the security agents.
Ebegbulem said Oshiomhole left the event through the back to avoid being attacked by the thugs, who had laid siege at the entrance gate of the university.
But on Saturday, which was the main event, he said everyone including the governor, himself, and other guests were already in the hall when at about 11:30am, the deputy governor stormed the University with over 200 commercial bike riders known as Okada riders and thugs.
“Security operatives accosted them at the gate and denied them entrance. The thugs started threatening the security operatives, who insisted the deputy governor could enter the venue but they will not allow the thugs to gain access.
Following their threats, the security operatives tear-gassed the thugs to dispersed then while the deputy governor joined other dignitaries at the venue. This created tension already in the small community, “ he explained.
According to the statement, after the event yesterday, Oshiomhole invited the Oba of Lagos, the Chancellor, Obaseki and others for lunch at his country home, which is right opposite the university.
“Comrade left instructions at the gate that he was expecting these respected leaders. So, when the visitors came, the governor drove in a bus with other officials but following the incident that occurred earlier, where thugs sponsored by the deputy governor invaded the university, Iyamho youths barricaded the gate of the national chairman with a view to protecting him against any harm.
“Unfortunately, these youths sighted Andrew Momodu, Osaigbovo Iyoha in the bus which conveyed the governor to Oshiomhole’s residence. They decided to stop them from entering the compound because these were the same people who led the thugs that attacked Oshiomhole’s residence in Benin City penultimate week.
“While this confusion was on, the thugs brought by the deputy governor started destroying the vehicles belonging to Oshiomhole’s kinsmen. I want to state clearly that the vehicles destroyed were not in the convoy of the governor. The thugs targeted the vehicles belonging to Oshiomhole’s relations and friends and destroyed them. Thank God for the intervention of soldiers and other security operatives, who came to restore peace.
“This would not have happened if not for the thugs loyal to the deputy governor, who invaded the community. However, Comrade Oshiomhole expresses his sincere apologies to the governor, the revered Oba of Lagos and the Chancellor over the unfortunate incident”.
Earlier before the attacks, Oshiomhole, who had commended Obaseki for sustaining his development legacies, noted that the governor had done well in sustaining the development of the Edo University Iyamho, saying the institution has been positioned to become a world-class ivory tower.
He also hailed Obaseki for the choice of a well-accomplished individual as the Chancellor for the University, noting that Nigeria could be better if emphasis was placed on quality education.
The former governor said the institution was not established for political motives but to train and nurture future leaders, even as he commended pioneer graduates of the institution and urged them to be good ambassadors.
However, as part of the activities marking the ceremony, Obaseki, who installed Makanjuola as the chancellor of the university, also decorated him with Honorary Degree of Doctors of Science, (Honoris Causa) of the Edo University.
Obaseki said the state government was keen about supporting the development of the school and providing an enabling environment for the institution to rise to become a leading ivory tower in Nigeria and consequently announced N1 million cash gift for each of the five first class graduating students of the institution.
On his part, Makanjuola commended the institution for finding him worthy to be installed as Chancellor and promised to live up to the confidence reposed in him.
He described the facilities at the university to be among the best in the country, adding that the university’s vocational skills centre would equip students with entrepreneurial skills, which would make them employers of labour after graduation.
Acting Pro-Chancellor of the university, Prof T.O.K Audu, commended the founder of the institution, Oshiomhole, noting that the existence of the university had brought about economic buoyancy within the host community.
Audu said the 1st convocation was a milestone achievement in the history of the university, noting that it climaxed the journey that started in the 2015/2016 academic session.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Emmanuel Aluyor, on his part, said the five students that made first class had been offered automatic employment with the university and an opportunity for the students to undertake their Post Graduate study at the University of Sunderland, United Kingdom under a student and staff exchange programme.
He noted that the five students were also offered job opportunities at a financial institution in the country, adding that N5 million was given to two graduands, Mohammad Aweni and Godwin Evbuomwan, who produced the best business plan under the university’s entrepreneurship awards.
The ceremony had commenced earlier on Friday with the institution’s first convocation lecture delivered by the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.