Police invite Akpata, Edo LP chair over UNIBEN violence

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The Edo state police command has summoned Olumide Akpata, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) for the September 21, 2024 election, and Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi, the Edo chairman of LP.

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The summon was not unconnected to the violence and gunshots that occurred last Friday at the Ugbowo Main Campus of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) on the Benin-Lagos Expressway.

The state police public relations officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, a Superintendent of Police (SP), disclosed this on Thursday, April 18, in Benin.

Nwabuzor stated that Akpata, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and Ogbaloi would be interacting with investigators in the political desk section of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) at the command’s headquarters in Benin.

Ogbaloi, who accompanied Akpata to his alma mater (UNIBEN) for his investiture by the university’s senior staff club, confirmed the police’s invitation on the matter but described the incident as Akpata’s private affair, which had nothing to do with the opposition party.

He said: “Barr. Olumide Akpata is our governorship candidate, but UNIBEN invited him, to honour him on a personal note. I did not sign surety of his safety there. I do not know why the police are also inviting me, and to come with Barr. Olumide Akpata.

“The police ought to have done their background checks, as his being honoured by UNIBEN had nothing to do with our party. So, I do not know why I am being asked to come along with Barr. Olumide Akpata to Edo police command headquarters in Benin.”

Edo chairman of LP, who noted that he was not in Benin, when the police’s invitation letter was delivered, assured that he would honour the invitation.

While Akpata was at UNIBEN’s senior staff club for his investiture, the peaceful event, however, turned violent, as the venue was invaded by some students of the Federal Government-owned university and persons, whom Akpata’s campaign organisation alleged were agents of Edo state government, to assassinate him.

Akpata, an indigene of Benin Kingdom in Edo South Senatorial District, in a video on his Facebook wall, blamed his political enemies for the incident at UNIBEN.

He said: “What was designed to be an apolitical and innocent homecoming at my alma mater, the great University of Benin when the Senior Staff Club of the university invited me for an interactive session, investiture as an honorary member of the club, and to also confer an award of excellence on me, took a dramatic and unfortunate turn.

“Regrettably, those who are most threatened by my candidacy resorted to the tired old tactic and deployed thugs masquerading as students, alongside some students, to disrupt and mar a sacred university staff event.

“In the process, one lecturer was injured, and he is now receiving treatment. While wishing him a speedy recovery, let me assure all the good people of Edo State and Nigerians in general that I am undeterred by the fiasco, and that I remain resolute in my determination to bring about the desired change in Edo State in September 2024.”

The management of UNIBEN condemned, in strong terms, the violence during the visit of Akpata to the higher institution, while it immediately set up a committee, headed by Prof. Frederick Ekhaise, to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the violence, and given one week to submit a report to the management

UNIBEN’s spokesperson, Dr Benedicta Ehanire, declared that the violent incident was unacceptable.

It will be recalled that the Edo state government, through its Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, condemned the violence at UNIBEN.

Nehikhare said: “The Edo State government condemns, in the strongest terms, the violence associated with LP’s candidate, Mr. Olumide Akpata’s visit to UNIBEN.

“The Edo State government warns, in the strongest terms, that it will not tolerate violence or this sort of irresponsible behaviour, which was associated with the visit of Mr Akpata to the institution.

“Government has the primary responsibility to ensure the security of lives and property in the state, and will spare no effort to ensure that anyone who breaches the peace, no matter how highly placed, will face the full weight of the law.”

The Edo commissioner for communication and orientation also called on all Edo residents to go about their lawful businesses without let, while assuring that relevant agencies were progressing with their investigations into the matter.


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