Resignation Saga: Knocks for Obaseki as Anger, Condemnation Trail Harassment of Ex-Chief of Staff by Security Men

Scathing criticism and condemnation have continued to trail Sunday evening’s invasion of the home of Francis Taiwo Akerele, former chief of staff to Edo State governor by hordes of security men allegedly from the Department of State Security, DSS, and the Nigeria Police. Akerele resigned his appointment Saturday, April 25, and barely 24 hours after, no fewer than 25 security operatives and suspected political thugs stormed his private residence located on Reuben Agbo Street, off 1st Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City arresting his personal assistant, Jaspa Olowojoba and carting away valuable documents, including his educational certificates, after ransacking every room. The state director of the DSS, Waziri Mohammed has however denied the involvement of his men in the operation.

Reacting to the development, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and retired army General, Charles Airhiavbere described the governor, Godwin Obaseki as “a semi-military dictator” and a “vindictive person”, stating that “There is nothing about him that is democratic. Even the way he came about was not democratic”. Airhiavbere who said Akerele was playing with the tail of a rattlesnake, said “What it clearly shows is that the former chief of staff didn’t know his boss. A man that can bring down a five-story hotel without having alternative government plan for the land; whether we like it or not that hotel was paying Edo people salaries. It was paying tax to government. He’s a very vindictive person”. He said it was not a surprise to him because “Taiwo Akerele should have known that he (Obaseki) would go after him; and if he’s not careful, he will go to jail for what he knows nothing about”.

Pius Odubu, former deputy governor of the state, and also a governorship aspirant on the platform of APC, said in a statement by his campaign organisation signed by Felix Isere, condemned in the strongest term “the autocratic, undemocratic and unbecoming political gangsterism the governor has regrettably introduced into the hitherto peaceful political environment of Edo State”. Odubu described the governor’s unprovoked harassment and intimidation of Akerele and members of his official and domestic staff as “highly reprehensible, abominable, condemnable, barbaric, inhuman, immoral,  undemocratic and totally antithetical to the  ethics of the exalted position the good people of Edo State mistakenly elected him to occupy.”

In their reaction, Edo Pro-Democracy Groups in a statement by ‘Marxist’ Kola Edokpayi called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Amnesty International,  AI, the European Union, EU, and all international human rights organizations to call Obaseki to order. The Coalition recalled the sacrifices of members of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and other pro-democracy groups in birthing Nigeria’s current democracy and warned that it would not fold its arms and allow certain political leaders truncate our march to true democracy and freedom. “We demand an end to the harassment and intimidation of Comrade Francis Taiwo Akerele” the Coalition said.

Reacting in a similar vein, Afemai Stakeholders Group (ASG) in a statement in Benin by its spokesperson, Ayo Olowojoba said “We condemn in very strong terms the inability of the state governor. Igarra community in Akoko-Edo local government area of the state where Akerele hails from was aghast that their son was being hounded by the governor after his meritorious service just because he decided to leave the government. Director of publicity of Igarra community, Ozaveshe Ajoze in a statement noted that “He was loyal to a fault and the same government praised him to high heavens. If he now chooses to leave, how has that become an offence? Our son should be left alone.”

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