The supremacy battle for the control of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State between National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki deepened Tuesday over a rally scheduled to hold on Friday in Bénin City.
Some defectors from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu are expected to be received into the APC fold at the rally.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu has earlier joined others to resign from the PDP.
There have been jingles in several television stations inviting the general public to the rally.
Governor Godwin Obaseki who denied knowledge of any APC rally in the state after the security meeting with heads of security agencies in the state said he has checked with the state APC secretariat and the party has not announced officially that they would be having a rally.
Obaseki said issues of public safety were reviewed at the security meeting particularly in relation to the yuletide season.
“The issue of public safety is a major concern to us as a government and this being the last Security Council meeting for the year, we had to put up measures in place to tackle security challenges,” he said.
State Chairman of APC, Barr Anselm Ojezua, said the party has directive its members to boycott the rally.
Ojezua who described the purported rally as provocative and capable of disrupting peace in the state said it was not the APC National Body that should inform the state organs about any rally.
He said, “I am not aware of any rally in Edo. We don’t know anything about it. Is it not absurd that the Governor of the State is not aware? We are not a party to it and it must not be held in our name.”
But Oshiomhole’s backed factional Chairman of Edo APC, Col David Imuse, said Edo cannot have two chairmen as there can only be one party chairman in the state.
He said, “As at today, the chairman is Col. David Imuse (rtd). The next line of action is to strengthen the party for the challenges ahead and win future elections.
“We are not at a press war with anybody. The party leadership took a decision and the national headquarters affirmed that decision. So whatever we do here is subject to ratification by Abuja, the party took a decision here and it was affirmed in Abuja.
“We had a NEC meeting, it was ratified and affirmed. We had the South-South leaders meeting it was affirmed and in the meeting of all the chairmen of APC nationwide, it was affirmed. I don’t dwell on illegality. I am a highly focused person so right now the task before us is how to fortified party. Right now we are preparing for the reception of our brothers who are coming back home to strengthen the party,” he said.
Meanwhile, suspended State Secretary of the Edo APC, Mr. Lawrence Okah, raised the alarm over plans by the Edo State government to recruit thugs from Kogi and Ekiti States to disrupt the planned Friday rally.
Okah said over twenty thousand leaders of the PDP across the 18 LGAs in the state led by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, would be received into the APC by Oshiomhole and other leaders of the APC across the country.
He said, “We are raising this alarm so that the world will know that governor Obaseki intends to unleash mayhem on APC members in Edo state after he had perfected plans to join the PDP.
“We have informed him of the scheduled rally. His deputy has also been informed but they have vowed to disrupt any event that will boost the strength of the APC in Edo state. This claim that cultists are invading the state is arrant nonsense. We are holding APC rally and we have accordingly informed all relevant authorities.
“We appeal to the Inspector General of Police, the Edo State Police Commissioner and the DSS to provide security to our members on that day. We use this opportunity to appeal to the governor to toe the path of peace and avoid violence because no blood of any Edo man is worth the ambition of any body.
“We urged security agents to be at alert because since the preparation for this rally, our members are being harassed while many are being threatened and beaten across the state.”
Reacting, Special Adviser to Governor on Parliamentary matters, Hon Kabiru Adjoto when contacted on phone Tuesday denied allegations of importing thugs to the state.
He said, “It is unfortunate that such statement will come from Chief Lawrence Okah who is somebody I respect so much and I will be shocked if he actually said so. I am a man of peace. I am a stakeholder in this state and the governor is committed to absolute peace in the state.
“He recently held a security meeting where he preached peace especially in this yuletide season. I am a man of peace and throughout my time as Speaker in the state, we maintained peace. If actually Chief Okah made this allegation against me, I will seek redress.”