Oshiomhole: They Can’t Kill My Fighting Spirit
By Adibe Emenyonu
Six days ago his convoy was presumably attacked along Warrake-Auchi road in Edo State by a truck that curiously veered off its track and headed straight for the staff car, missing it by the whiskers.
Three journalists were killed while others including security details, sustained various degree of injuries.
The following day, at about 2.45 am, the home of his information commissioner, Mr. Louis Odion, was invaded by four gunmen who also missed him because he opted to pass the night at a friend’s house located in another part of the city.
But a traumatised Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole has said nobody can kill his fighting spirit.
NLC Deputy National Secretary, Oyerinde, 44, was shot dead by four gunmen who invaded his house located in Ugbor area, Benin City around 1.00 am.
THISDAY gathered that shortly after the gunmen stormed the compound, they tied up the security guard while two of them forced their way through the front door and made straight for his bedroom.
On realising it was Mr. Oyerinde’s brother-in-law who was actually sleeping on the bed and not Oyerinde, they immediately left him and went for the wife, Funke, asking her to lead them to the husband who, unknown to them, was sleeping in the living room.
On sighting him, they instantly fired four shots, one to the head, chest, abdomen and hip, killing Oyerinde instantly. The gunmen later fled without taking anything from the house.
Oshiomhole has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the police to conclude investigation and bring to justice Oyerinde’s killers.
He gave the directive to a group of protesters who demonstrated in solidarity with the state government over Oyerinde’s killing. He advised them to resist all temptations to resort to violence.
Oshiomhole said: “We have written a petition to the state commissioner of police in which we informed him of the meeting held at the residence of the godfather where they took a typical evaluation of the forthcoming election. They agreed it is impossible for them to win, but they also resolved at that meeting presided over by the godfather that they will take series of actions to intimidate my person and if possible to eliminate me.
“At that meeting they said they will kill under the guise of armed robbery, they will kidnap some people, many of my personal staff and some of our key leaders to pretend as if they are victims of kidnapping.”
The governor said he also informed the police that at the meeting they resolved that weeks before the election they would detonate bombs in parts of the state in order to scare people from going to vote.
He asked rhetorically: “What is our crime? Our crime is that we have mobilized our people, we have deployed public resources for public good and the godfather is angry. We have no apology for the stand we have taken and we will not slow down. The blood of these young men will fire me on to fight and defeat the godfather as there is no going back. They have killed my son, they have killed my brother, they have killed my people, but they cannot kill my spirit.”
Oshiomhole said: “If the police do not find the killers, if they do not do proper investigation on the killing of those journalists and Olaitan, as governor of Edo State, I will provide the leadership to the people to find solution.
“They must not fight like cowards; they should come and let us engage face to face. Like cowards they shot Olaitan on the head, they shot him on the chest, they shot him on the belly, to make sure he never survives. Why will a man in his eighties preside over the death of young children, why will an old man who has children, great grand children, supervise the killing of young people? Why will Airhiavbere (PDP governorship candidate in the state) who wishes to lead Edo State be only talking about tribalism? They are planning violence and planning killing.
“I want to serve them notice. We have the capacity, we have the men, we have the people and if they do not behave we can stop them from coming to Edo State. I have no cause to cry today, rather than cry, the blood of those young men will whet my appetite for justice.
That is why today, because their plan is to make us postpone again for the second time our campaign. We will go ahead because Olaitan in his lifetime was a fighter. I ask you not to be afraid, don’t be intimidated, don’t give up, if anything we should be more resolved. The godfather is finished and no one can rescue him and any old man that kills will have death awaiting his own children, brother and himself and when he dies he will be in perpetual fire.
“In the name of politics, these people are bringing violence to the state, they are killing, maiming and they are planning more. You will recall that in 2007 we lost three young men. You will recall that at the state House of Assembly they planted a bomb which was meant to kill our members in the Action Congress of Nigeria in the House of Assembly. Thank God the bomb did not detonate. You will also recall that they used machet cuts and tear gas to attempt to kill our members in the House of Assembly and in all of these the police have not done justice, those who tried to kill those honourable members, nothing has happened to them.”
Oyerinde read mass communication at the University of Lagos. He was deputy National Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and was seconded to work with the governor in November 2007.
He is survived by his wife, Funke, four children and aged father and mother.
A statement by the Special Adviser on Media to the governor, Mr. Tony Iyare, said the sequence of sordid events coming each time on the eve of the flag-off of Oshiomhole’s campaign raises grave concern and therefore demands thorough investigation by the security forces.
Before Oyerinde’s murder, a member of the state House of Assembly, Hon Johnson Oghuma, was also similarly attacked by gunmen.
Oghuma who represents Etsako Central had his car riddled with bullets as he was on his way to Fugar, his hometown.
Odion had, at a press briefing last Sunday, raised fears that top government functionaries were being targeted for elimination.
Reactions to Oyerinde’s killing came in torrents last night.
Benin Monarch, Omo ‘N’ Oba ‘N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, expressed shock at unfolding events in the state.
Speaking when he granted audience to Oshiomhole in his palace, the traditional ruler said, “when I heard the news of the death of your private secretary, Mr. Olaitan Oyerinde, on Independent Television, I was shocked. We leave everything in the hands of God. We will keep on praying”.
He appealed to the political actors to play the game according to the rules.
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka also deplored the murder, saying “the agents of darkness and retrogression will not triumph”.
Soyinka said in a text message: “The hand of the assassin is clear as day. It reaches all the way back to the killing of Bola Ige. Please convey my deepest condolences to his (Oyerinde’s) widow, children and colleagues.
“Tell Oshiomhole we all stand by him against the agents of darkness and retrogression. They shall not triumph,” he said.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) also condemned Oyerinde’s murder, saying it raises a lot of questions, especially coming shortly after the yet-to-be-resolved ramming of the Governor’s convoy by a tipper truck that claimed the lives of three journalists and a driver.
In a statement issued in Ibadan on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the killing of Comrade Oyerinde is also another indication of the growing state of anarchy across the country, to which the PDP-federal government has no answer.
It said if someone as close to the Governor as his private secretary can be so mindlessly killed in cold blood, shortly after what now seems to be a failed attempt on the governor’s life when the truck rammed into his convoy, it’s logical to be concerned about the safety of the Governor himself.
”Yes, there may not yet be any conclusive evidence linking anyone to these incidents, but there is a growing concern that they may not be unconnected with the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state, especially considering the desperation of the PDP to ‘reclaim’ the state at all costs.”