In our October 14 editorial, “Who wants to unmake Ekiti”, we did warn that “Some politicians’ desperation (for power) or unwillingness (to follow due process) must not bring us back to ground zero”. We fear there are already many ominous signs to 2015 when presidential and other elections will be conducted.Since the physical September attacks on judges deciding on the June 21 Ekiti state governorship election petition in September, there have been violent eruptions in Edo and Lagos states.
In Edo, recently armed men attacked the legislators’ quarters in the Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Benin City, the state capital. Said to be over a 100, the gunmen, suspected to be political thugs, arrived at about 7 am and sent all the lawmakers and their families fleeing. The Saturday attack appeared to have been a reprisal for an earlier one on Monday in which a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker, Abdulrazak Momoh, was the target.
In the Saturday attack, the targets were lawmakers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). They included the House Speaker UyiIgbe, Majority Leader Phillip Shaibu, and other principal officers. The assailants, according to eyewitness reports, came in 10 Hiace buses. They reportedly destroyed 36 vehicles and damaged buildings.
The APC governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on a visit to the legislators’ quarters, condemned the attack, describing it as “cowardly and barbaric”. He accused the state PDP chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, Vice Chairman Pastor IzeIyamu and former deputy governor of the state Lucky Imasuen of masterminding the attack and called on the police to arrest the culprits. Responding to the allegation, the PDP denied it hired the attackers. According to Orbih, “thuggery is unacceptable to the party”.
That development was the climax of a government induced crisis in the House that has been simmering since the beginning of the year. As it is, Edo has a divided legislature, a part made up of Governor Oshiomhole APC loyalists conducting business in Government House and the other made up of opposition PDP members. Both sides have been guilty of judicial impunity, choosing to obey only court orders that favour them. The governor is only too pleased to allow this conundrum to persist as he has no imminent election to bother about.
On their part, the police failed to rise to the occasion. In the Saturday attack, they did not arrive at the scene until after the assailants had done their work and left. This was confirmed by Force Headquarters’ spokesman, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Emmanuel Ojukwu, who admitted that the thugs were hired by politicians, obviously too powerful and connected to be touched.
In Lagos, a “brutal clash” was reported Monday between APC thugs and their PDP opponents at the Ikorodu Road. A lottery agent, Sheriff Alasia, was killed, apparently caught in cross fire. According to reports, the Mushin area of Lagos has been turned to a battle ground by two groups of party partisans – Toba and Toheeb, the former loyal to APC that is power in the sate and the latter loyal to PDP.
An elderly resident of the area was shocked by the inability of the police to separate the two groups. “About 16 policemen were here on Saturday evening when all this started, yet the violence continued unabated. It is basically a fight between APC and the PDP thugs… For now, it appears one faction is having the upper hand because the police have also been compromised and that is making the other party angry.” DSP Kenneth Nwosu, the Police Public Relations Officer, said the police tried “their best” but were unable to prevent the violence. “It was a gang fight that resulted in the death of a man whose identity we have yet to ascertain. The police have been monitoring the activities in the area for the past three days to ensure no life was lost. But unfortunately, we don’t know how those boys still succeeded in killing that guy. It’s quite unfortunate.”
It is indeed disheartening for the police to dismiss the inter-party violence and the deaths therefrom in the three states in the past one month as “unfortunate”. National elections are only 5 months away; these ominous signposts must be removed well before then.