No fewer than 10 residents were wounded in an exchange of gunshots between the camps of Governor Godwin Obaseki and his main challenger in the forthcoming Edo State governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Cars, some of them exotic, campaign billboards and other valuables were damaged in the mayhem on Saturday near the palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare 11, where Governor Obaseki formally launched the campaign for his re-election.
The violence started when Obaseki, leading a delegation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains, arrived at the Oba’s Palace for a courtesy visit.
By the time the PDP delegation got there, supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had gathered at the entrance of the palace, armed with guns, cudgels, broken bottles and other dangerous weapons.
As the delegation’s convoy of cars snaked into the palace, some people in the crowd began to boo and jeer Obaseki.
Tension rose and the situation soon degenerated into a free for all between the supporters of the PDP and APC, with the violence spreading to adjoining streets.
Armed policemen drafted to the scene managed to bring the situation under control and the PDP delegation entered the palace for the courtesy visit.
When the visit was over, the campaign train moved to the Lawn Tennis Court of Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin.
The programme got underway at 1:31 pm, only for the heavens to open up for a little over one hour.
Governor Obaseki, addressing the rally, accused the APC of causing the violence but asked his supporters to shun thuggery.
“The opposition party in Edo State has now resorted to violence. Do not retaliate,” he said.
“Members of the opposition party want to scare us ahead of the September 19 election, but we have a good President. I am urging President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure peaceful, free and fair governorship election in Edo State.”
He said he left the APC because of what he called the lawlessness in the party.
“We left them because of their lawlessness. We will not, no matter how provoked, resort to the same lawlessness. I want to thank you and assure you that God has given us the victory,” he said.”
Obaseki promised to transform Edo State, adding that such transformation would lead to the transformation of the country.
The governor said the PDP considered him worthy of the governorship ticket as reward for his record of performance in the past four years.
According to him, his decision to put the people first, above any other interests, cost him the governorship ticket of the APC, saying that his getting the PDP ticket to run the race was a miracle.
The governor promised to unveil his re-election programme, Make Edo Great Again (MEGA), in the coming days.
KanyiDaily recalls that Governor Obaseki had accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of importing thugs into the state.