The APC campaign council, which accused Edo State government agents of destroying and removing the billboards of its candidates, said it had petitioned the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, and INEC regarding what it called a “criminal act”. It said the billboards and campaign posters were located at strategic points in Benin City and beyond.
National Vice Chairman of the publicity committee of the campaign council, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, said at a press conference in Benin City, the Edo State capital, that the action was “unfortunate” and “criminal.” Obahiagbon stated that the “outdoor billboards and indeed other campaign materials were duly paid for, designed and erected in full compliance with all legal requirements.”
He said, “We are convinced that this act of intolerance, carried out with impunity, foreshadows what the Edo State government has in store for the Edo voters and our supporters in the September 19 election following the emergence of incontrovertible facts that Mr. Godwin Obaseki is on his way to an embarrassing defeat.
“This unfortunate and criminal action took flight on Thursday, the 16th of July, 2020, when the Edo State government allegedly expressly told one Mr. Dave Giwa Amu who is parading himself as the Managing Director of the Edo State Signage and Advertising Agency, to commence immediate removal and destruction of our billboards.”
The campaign council also stated, “The Edo State Signage and Advertising Agency, purportedly led by the so-called Mr. Dave Giwa Amu, an avowed supporter of the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, is an agency that is yet to receive the assent of the Edo State House of Assembly as the bill for its creation and operations is still being considered in the legislative chamber…
“This agency, as of today, is unknown to the laws of Edo State and is being weaponised by the state government, an interested party in the election, to give itself an illegal, unfair, unethical, fraudulent advantage as we approach the polls.
“This is an egregious and opprobrious escalation of other recorded acts of abuse of office and disregard for the law on the part of the Edo State government. It is a new low for a state government and a governor that has blurred and corrosively dimmed the lines on what is personal and official, reserves the interest of the state and that of the parochial interests of the man, who lead it.
“It is unfortunate that as the chief executive of the state, who is expected to commit to peace, rule of law and avoidance of rancour, Governor Godwin Obaseki has continued to heat up the polity with reckless and provocative comments, media blackmail and criminal actions of intolerance, including the mass destruction of opponent’s campaign materials.”
Obahiagbon stated that APC and its candidates remained confident that Edo people already knew where to place their thumbs on September 19 and would not be cowed by the “last kicks of a dying horse”.
The campaign council said, “We will, nonetheless, stop at nothing to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the state and that the governor is made to come to terms with the fact that all constitutional powers have limits and responsibilities and that as it has been said by scholars, nobility commands responsibility.”
But in a swift reaction, Osagie insisted that the Edo State government did not bring down APC candidates’ campaign billboards. In a statement, he said the allegations were ludicrous and unfounded.
He alleged in the statement, “Anyone who knows Ize-Iyamu very well knows that this is his approach to politics. He raises the alarm and cries wolf, when no one is chasing him. The state government has not removed any of his billboards. This is cheap blackmail to score lame political points.
“Ize-Iyamu is a politician that assumes relevance during every election cycle. This is what he does for a living and has no other job. It is not surprising to see these statements from him and his team. He should not be taken seriously, and his statements should be disregarded.
“He would go back to his cocoon after he has been defeated at the September 19, 2020 election and would most likely resurface after four years to repeat this cycle. So, we are used to his childish charades.”