A Benin City High Court, (Vocation Court One), Edo State, on Monday remanded seven thugs nabbed by the Police with illegal firearms during the invasion of the Edo State House of Assembly complex led by Governor Godwin Obaseki and his Deputy, Mr. Philip Shaibu.
The thugs identified as Festus Agbonrenren (25 years), Odion Osayande (23 years), Ogbeiwe Wilfred (52 years), Morgan Uwaigboe (47 years), Osayomore Salami (25 years), Ifeoluwa Oladele (36 years), and Iginobaro Collins (26 years) were arrested on August 6 within the premises of the Edo Assembly complex with five double-barrel long guns, two single barrel long guns, and 10 live cartridges.
According to several Police sources, they have confessed to being mobilized by the Governor’s aides, Mr. Kabiru Adjoto and Mr. Osaigbovo Iyoha, to deny entry to the Assembly Complex to elected members of the Edo Assembly opposed to Governor Obaseki with violence.
They provided cover for other thugs who removed the roof of the Edo Assembly complex, vandalized its chambers, and tipped heaped of sands at its entrance in violent chaos supervised by the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, to widespread condemnation from rights groups and residents of the state.
The presiding Judge, his Lordship, Hon. Justice Efe Ikponmwonba, should be remanded in the Police custody pending the determination of the case on August 25.
However, in a decision said to be indicative of the sensitivity of the case and the highly-funded plot by Governor Obaseki to prevent the thugs from standing prosecution, the Judge asked that the suspects not be brought to court during the next sitting but kept in the Police custody where developments on the case will be relayed to them by their legal representatives.
Several prominent Civil Society Organizations have called on the Police to follow the prosecution to a conclusive end and resist the reported attempt by Governor Godwin Obaseki to either influence the testimony of the thugs, who have already allegedly confessed their ties to the embattled Governor, or procure freedom for them without prosecution.
One of the groups condemned the Governor’s invasion of the State House of Assembly, saying it set terrible precedence that pose a serious threat to the democracy of the State, and urged the Police and State Judiciary to consider the trial of the thugs caught with the illegal arms as the starting point to reaffirming their commitment to the rule of law and the stamping out of impunity and violence.