In this interview, Chief Francis Inegbeniki, a chieftain of the Edo state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC spoke on the bombing of house in Benin City on Saturday, 1st February 2020 while he was away hosting a rally of the Edo Central Senatorial District of the party, the factionalisation of the party in Edo state.
By Lucky Isibor,
Excerpts – The Political crisis within the APC Edo State chapter is taking a frightening dimension with some members of the party allegedly using explosives to attack one another especially the house of Chief Francis Inegbeniki.
-> Sir, what’s your reaction to this dimension?
Am sure you’re referring to the incident that took place in my house at about 3:30 yesterday, (Saturday, 1st February 2020) morning, where unknown persons threw Improvised Explosive Device (IED) into my compound.
Eehh! Really am still in shock, I am traumatized, my family is traumatized. But I now have hope when I read The Nation newspaper of today, Sunday the 2nd, I saw that Edo State Government gave me a lead. Their action was very swift, they were able to do that intelligence investigation and from their intelligence report they are accusing some politicians of throwing explosives into my compound. So, am happy that Edo State Government is working very hard to unravel those who threw these explosives.
In the Edo State Government release published in The Nation newspaper of today, it was confirmed that some politicians threw explosives into my house. This is a very frightening dimension, it’s very frightening.
-> With the colossal damage done to your house by the explosives, have you reported the incident to the police?
Yes, the matter has been reported to the police and also to the Director of State Security Service. I understand that a team of police bomb disposal experts visited my house yesterday morning to remove the unexploded IED. Two IEDs, were thrown into my compound, one exploded while the second one did not explode.
The one that exploded caused colossal damage to my building, the structure of the building, all the glass windows in the house were destroyed, one of my cars that I parked in the house was badly damaged. This is a very frightening dimension in Edo State political crisis.
-> The pattern of the political attack in the state recently has been targeted at people from one camp. (Oshiomhole’s camp) The other day it was Barr Idahagbon, and now yourself. Do you suspect anybody?
Frankly, I suspect that the attack was politically motivated, and I make bold to say that the attack is state sponsored attack. It is state sponsored terrorism which is against the law of Nigeria and the European convention. But because in Nigeria Governors enjoy immunity we can not prosecute a sitting governor but I will be briefing my lawyer Femi Falana to file action in the European Court. My life is in danger. I am calling on the Inspector General of police IGP, the Director of State Security Service in the country to please investigate this series of attack.
-> Could the attack be linked to your hosting of party members, as a way of preventing you from hosting the rally?
Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! Yes!!!! “It is likened to the adage in our local parlance that “The witch cries in the night and the baby dies in the morning”
Now let me explain the political situation in Edo state until when my house was bombed. If you read The Nation newspaper of today Sunday 2nd, page 49, you will see that Edo State Government accused Edo Peoples’ Movement, EPM, accused our national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. According to them, “Intelligence reports available to us indicate that this is the next move by the suspended national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his cohorts in the EPM to create tension in this state with the intent of forcing the authorities to declare a state of emergency in Edo.
I am one of the founding fathers of EPM. I couldn’t have thrown explosive into my own compound. For me, I believe that thugs loyal to Edo State Government masterminded this attack on my house. I verily believe so.
Now it is no longer news that APC is in crisis in Edo State, it is no longer news that APC is factionalised into two, the Obaseki Shuaibu movement (OSM) and Edo Peoples’ Movement (EPM).
Let me tell you the truth, the crisis in Edo State is not between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, NO! Far from it. The crisis in Edo is between Obaseki and EPM. It is between us and Obaseki and not Oshiomhole. It is between EPM and Obaseki’s ambition to have a second term in office.
Let me clarify here, that about 80% of members and leaders of APC today in Edo State are in EPM, the other 20% are the Governor’s aids who are enjoying
political patronage, they are inconsequential. We EPM are against Obaseki coming back for a second term, I believe this is the reason why my house and the houses of other members of EPM are being attacked. If you look at the list of all the political attacks in the state since last year you will confirm what I am saying.
Let me take you through some attacks that have happened to EPM members in Edo State till today. The very first attack took place during the illegal inauguration of nine members of Edo State House of Assembly at nocturnal hours. You will recall that the next day after the nocturnal inauguration, thugs led by the Governor’s CSO went to old Excalibur Hotel and attacked House of Assembly members- elect. They were beaten to pulp because they belong to the EPM group. One of them, Saidi Oshiomhole was stripped naked. That was how and when the attacks started.
The second one happened when they attacked Osarobo in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area. His house was attacked. He is a member of EPM and properties were destroyed.
When they left that, they went to Owan East, where Rt. Hon. Abdul Oroh, and his teaming supporters were holding meeting. They were equally attacked, properties destroyed, people injured.
They didn’t stop there. On the day we were to receive a very high profile politician into our fold, the APC family, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu; the venue we booked to receive the pastor was attacked, all canopies, chairs, were destroyed, people were injured on that day again.
I am giving you a chronology of all the attacks that have taken place in this Benin City against our party members and EPM members.
They didn’t stop there. They went to the national chairman’s house at Okoro-Otun Avenue, thugs loyal to the state went there. We thank God the vigilant policemen there on duty were able to repel them.
Remember again that last Friday here, our members were holding meeting in Egoro Naoka in Esan West, they were equally attacked, people were injured.
How long can we continue like this? Former Attorney General of Edo state, Barr. Idaghagbon’s house was attacked few days ago, Hon. Chris Okaeben’s house was attacked. Then my house was attacked with explosives in the early morning of 2nd February, 2020. After my house, Comrade Osakpoma’s house was also attacked with explosives. In all these, you will agree with me that these attacks are coming from the other divide, being sponsored by the state against EPM members, and so was the attack on my house, I must say.
If you watch this Edo State Government release on the 2nd of February, its there for you to read, the Government released a warning that nobody must hold rally in the state and that they were aware that EPM members were planning to hold rally in Edo Central.
Yes, they were right, they were right that members of APC have already planned a rally to receive decampees, high profile members at that; and those decampees include men in PDP, Prince Tony Omoaghe, Chief Frank Erewele, Former Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ebea and we planned the rally for the 1st of February, to receive them.
And the state Government got wind of it and they came out with a press release and threatened that nobody should organize a rally.
Yes they knew that I, as the leader of APC in Edo Central had already fixed that date to receive these decampees like I told you earlier; and if you also watch the press conference organized by the Governor where he was spitting fire that he’ll deal with anybody who tries to organise rally, obviously referring to me because I have already fixed 1st February to receive decampees; he threatened that they will deal with anybody who dares, and if you listen carefully, one voice inside that video said they will give the people “wake and see treatment”. It’s clear English and I have the video which I will tender any day, that they will give anybody who organises rally “wake and see treatment”. He spoke English not Yoruba, not Swahilli, not Latin. It is in the public domain that they will give the person “Wake and see treatment”. They have given me “Wake and see treatment”. I woke up on the 1st to see the treatment and that
treatment was bomb explosion. So, who else will I suspect? I suspect the Governor and the people that were with him inside that room where he gave that announcement, that voice who said “wake and see treatment”. The Governor produce that person and the person will help us. So, I want to say that the attack on my house is connected to the rally which I organised on the 1st of February.
-> The Governor has been accusing EPM members fighting him because he refused to appropriate the state resources, money for their personal use hence they are not supporting him for a second term. How do you react to this?
In Nigeria jurisprudence, it is clear that he who alleges will prove. If the Governor has said so, which of course I have read, he should be hold and man enough to point to the EPM members or the politicians that demanded money from him. He should point them. Why is he keeping quiet If that is true? That is not true that EPM members demanded money from him because he wants a second term.
Nooo! Far from it. We the members of EPM, leaders of APC in Edo today, we know it as a fact that if you give Governor Obaseki ticket now to run for a second term, APC will loose this state because he’s already an over ripe mango; ‘he don too ripe’, you cant market it again. If you take it to the market nobody will buy. So we the members know that giving Obaseki a second term ticket, APC will loose the state because he has failed the people of Edo State woefully.
In the areas of development, yes, I give them one thing the Obaseki and his government, they are good in propaganda. They are spending heavily on all these social media rats that are writing rubbish daily, trying to paint Obaseki as a saint, trying to paint him as a Governor that is working. It is not true. If I open my mouth Edo State people will stone Obaseki on the streets of Benin, if I open my mouth.
Do you want me to mention the billions of naira he has received in Edo State since he became Governor? Do you want me to mention the amount he has received as Internally Generated Revenue IGR, Ecological funds, all those loans he has collected, running into trillions? Where are the projects? We have been keeping quiet. Somebody like me, I have tried to hold myself not to hit him so hard, because if I hit him hard, the other party, PDP, even though we have been able to demystify them now, they will have some thing to hold.
Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki has not performed in the area of development, that is the reason we don’t want to give him ticket. We don’t want to support him again because if we support him and he gets the ticket, we will loose the governorship election. Don’t forget Godwin Obaseki promised President Muhammadu Buhari during the presidential campaign at Garrick Memorial ground, I was there, saying, “President, we will give you one Million votes from Edo”. But the out come, the Governor lost his unit, the Governor lost his ward, the Governor lost his state constituency, he lost his federal constituency and lost the Senate, a man who pronounced one million votes. Go and check the results and see if am making it up. A man that is not on ground, why will you give him ticket for a second term? A man who could not deliver and he wants a second tenure? Noooo! That’s the cause of the problem between we, the EPM and Godwin Obaseki, its not anybody asking him for money.
-> What does these series of attacks portend for your party, the APC?
The APC will become stronger after the primaries. Remember I told you that today in Edo State, the EPM members, who are the authentic APC constitute about 80% of APC members, the other 20% are just his workers. In the next few weeks those ones will start to leave him one by one because we have nothing to give them. They are still there because they’re benefiting. They are still there because of the political patronage they get from him now, in the night they are with us. In the night the remaining 20% are with us but during the day they pretend and go to work so that they can get their daily bread.
The other few ones that are left are not from Edo. Those ones were imported from Lagos, some were imported from Asaba, from Delta; those are the other few ones, we can count them from our finger tips. Those ones are inconsequential.
After this crisis, APC will come out stronger, the few bad elements (Like Charlie Temple, Charles Idahosa) will be weeded away, we don’t need them. They misled the Governor to where he has found himself now, in a round box. We will come out stronger.
-> As a party, a political family, is there any move for reconciliation ahead the election?
Thank you very much. Our national leader, the President, Muhammadu Buhari and others have tried to wade into Edo State APC Crisis.
There was a time a committee was set up headed by Governor Ganduje of Kano State, but Edo State Governor and his cohorts, his people refused to come to reconcile with party members. They said they didn’t recognise them and they were not going to cooperate. They frustrated that move to reconcile.
Only recently, the National Working Committee, NWC set up another committee, this time, to be led by the Senate President, am sure some of you are aware of it.
This high profile committee was set up to come and reconcile Edo State APC. what happened? The same Governor and his people rejected the committee. So the president and the NWC have tried to wade unto this Edo State APC crisis, they have set up two different committees, and those two different committees were rejected by the Governor and his people. How else are we going to pursue peace? We on our own, we’re still ready if the Governor is ready to seat down on a mahogany round table for discussion.
I will give them my last word, those who threw that IED into my compound and their sponsors, their state sponsors, let me warn you people. This drum of war that you people are beating now; the Makossa that you people are beating now, by the time the music, the lyrics will start to come out, you people should be ready to dance to that your music of war. That drum that you are beating, be prepared, you will dance Makossa!