The murder of an aide to Governor Adams Oshiomhole looks set to open a can of worms in the state

When on Sunday, April 29, 2012, Luis Odion, the Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, told journalists that security reports indicated that some senior government officials and top members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) were targets for elimination by some who he said were bent on hijacking the July 14 gubernatorial election in the state by all means, not many took him seriously.

He linked the auto crash involving the convoy of Governor Adams Oshiomhole, which claimed the lives of three journalists, to the plans of the alleged enemies of the state; and an alleged attack by unknown gunmen on his (Odion) private residence located at Ugbowo axis of Benin hours after the accident as part of attempt to get rid of Oshiomhole and his team.

The next and latest victim alleged war going on in the state, 44-year-old Olaitan Oyerinde, Principal Personal Secretary and the most trusted aide of Governor Adams Oshiomhole, has dispelled any illusions that Odion was joking. Oyerinde was killed by yet to be identified gunmen who stormed his private residence located at No. 65, 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, in Benin City, in the early hours of Friday.

A source close to the late aide said Oyerinde, after closing from work on Friday night, decided to hang out with a couple of friends, one of who later dropped him at home at about 12.30 am. Barely 30 minutes later, four gunmen stormed his three-bedroom bungalow through the fence, made straight for the younger brother’s room and demanded that he take them to the room of Oyerinde.

One of the gunmen disarmed the security guard, bound him and kept watch over him, while three of them forced their way through the front door and made straight for Oyerinde’s bedroom. On recognising that it was his brother-in-law who was sleeping on the bed, they immediately left him and went for Oyerinde’s wife, Funke, and compelled her to lead them to the husband who was sleeping in the living room.

After compelling Funke to confirm the identity of Oyerinde, they shot him three times, on the head, chest and on the stomach, and left the compound immediately. The source further disclosed that the assailants made away with Oyerinde’s laptop, mobile phones and car keys, apparently to prevent rushing him to the hospital for medical attention.

A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, Oyerinde was seconded from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to work for Oshiomhole in November 2007. He is survived by his wife, Funke, four children and an aged mother.

According to Tony Iyare, the Special Adviser on Media to Oshiomhole,  the “sequence of sordid events coming each time on the eve of the flag off of Governor Oshiomhole’s campaign raises grave concern and therefore demands thorough investigation by the security forces.”

Reacting to Oyerinde’s murder, the governor said it was the latest attempt by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to intimidate him. “Last week, they succeed in killing three journalists. Last night, they killed Olaitan. Let me be clear they cannot kill my fighting spirit. We submitted a petition to the Commissioner of Police in which we informed him of the meetings held at the residence of the godfather where they took a critical evaluation of the forthcoming election and they agreed it is impossible for them to win.”

According to him, security reports at their disposal indicated that the opposition party had resolved at a secret meeting to intimidate, and if possible, eliminate him.

“At that meeting, they said they will kill under the guise of armed robbery, many of my personal staff and key leaders to pretend as if they are victim of kidnapping,” he said. “I was also informed that they resolved that weeks before the election, they will detonate bombs in parts of the state in order scare people away from going to vote.

What is our crime? Our crime is that we have mobilised our people. We have deployed public resources for the 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 this young men will fire me on to fight and defeat the godfather. There is no going back.”

When contacted, the Edo State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Matthew Urhoghide, declined to react to the allegations. “You know this people now, the condolence message we sent the other day was misconstrued, so I don’t want to say anything on it,” he said.

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