Barely 24 hours after he resigned his appointment as the chief of staff to Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, security operatives are on the trail of Francis Taiwo Akerele who stormed his private residence located off 1st Ugbor Road, Benin City Sunday evening and reportedly took away his personal assistant, Jaspa Olowojoba and several documents. Neighbours of the embattled former top political aide of the governor who did not want to be mentioned, identified invaders as operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, who came in a white 18-seater bus, and the police who came in the operational vehicles of Wabazighan, an outfit created by the governor. Akerele was said not to be in town when his house was invaded by the security personnel numbering not less than 25.
Trouble started for Akerele on Friday when he handed the governor his resignation letter which he (the governor) reportedly tore, pleading with him to hang on as issues that informed his decision could still be sorted out. Frantic effort by the governor to persuade his former close aide to change his mind failed as Akerele stuck to his gun. Even when his resignation letter was trending on social media, the governor denied receiving any such letter. In spite of the denial, a replacement was announced same day in the person of Ethan Uzamere, son of Ehigie Uzamere, who represented Edo South senatorial district in the Senate..
The DSS operatives, accompanied by the police, and suspected political thugs, were said to have arrived Akerele’s residence at about 5 pm after the government had lured Olowojoba to the government house to come and remove his personal belongings to allow the new appointee take possession of the office.
It was gathered that when a security detail to the governor called Olowojoba severally on phone to come and clear his boss’ former office of his personal effects, he was said to have told him he would do it on Monday but was reportedly prevailed upon to come immediately. After he had cleared the office, the security operatives then followed him thereby using him to gain access into the property. With Olowojoba completely overwhelmed, they were said to have moved from room to room, even breaking doors, and searching the house after which they left with their captive and several documents.
Efforts to reach the state Director of DSS, Waziri Mohammed, and the Deputy Director, Dapo Amao were unsuccessful as they did not pick calls put across to their phones. However, reacting to enquiries by journalists through his Whatsapp, Mohammed simply said “The DSS, Edo State has not arrested anyone. Kindly check with those mentioned, to confirm or check with other security agencies, please. Thanks.” He was however silent on the alleged invasion. The embattled Akerele, however, fingered the DSS and the police in the invasion of his house and confirmed that all his personal documents, including his certificates, were among the items taken away from his house by the DSS operatives in conjunction with the Wabazighan.
Reacting to the development, Washington Osifo, a lawyer and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, opposed to the governor’s leadership style, described the action of the security agents as illegal. According to Osifo, “The invasion was against the law; it is a violation of his right of privacy and fundamental human rights”. He challenged the security men “to display the search warrant; what warranted them to enter that house in the absence of the owner of that property”. A bewildered Osifo said “this was the governor who denied before the whole world that Akerele did not submit any resignation letter and that they have not seen it; and that any time they see it he would accept it. A few hours later, then he made an announcement replacing him. In less than 24 hours, police, DSS, and other thugs invaded his house and made away with his PA and other documents. This is what we have been saying that this man is a dictator”.