Benin City was the epicenter of escalating political tension yesterday, as Godwin Obaseki, Edo State Governor barred his deputy, Philip Shaibu, from entering the Government House. The move caught the deputy governor and his aides off guard, signaling a deepening rift between the two leaders.
According to eyewitness accounts, the incident unfolded around 8 a.m. when Deputy Governor Shaibu arrived at the Government House with his personal aides and security personnel. They found the gates to his office securely locked, chained, and padlocked. Despite waiting for nearly an hour, no explanation or resolution was provided, forcing Shaibu and his team to leave.
In a desperate attempt to gain clarity on the situation, Shaibu reached out to the state commissioner of Police and the state director of State Security Services (SSS). He also confronted the Government House camp commandant, Superintendent of Police Ibrahim Babatunde, who responded ambiguously that the orders came “from above” and redirected him to the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Government House, Williams Wabba. At the time of reporting, it was unclear whether Wabba responded to Shaibu’s queries.
Reports circulating online, presumably released by the supporters of Governor Obaseki alleged that Shaibu was making a scene and forcibly tried to gain entry into the governor’s office despite being informed that Obaseki was not present. An unnamed aide to Obaseki claimed that the presence of Shaibu at the Government House was purely to “make trouble.”
Notably, this tension between Obaseki and Shaibu isn’t new. Governor Obaseki had previously moved the office of the Deputy Governor to No 7, Dennis Osadebey Avenue, claiming this had been communicated and acknowledged by Shaibu.
History of strained relationship between the duo
The Deputy Governor had earlier filed a suit to challenge alleged moves to prevent him from performing his duties, although he later withdrew it due to intervention by community and religious leaders, including Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of the Catholic Church in Benin.
Akerele calls for presidential intervention
As the squabble between the state’s top officials continues, Taiwo Akerele, a former chief of staff to the Edo State government and an APC chieftain, has appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene. He expressed concerns that the ongoing feud could have grave implications for the state’s security and governance.
In a statement, Akerele urged the feuding leaders to put aside their differences and focus on governing Edo State effectively, warning that their ongoing dispute was diverting attention from pressing state issues.
The unsettling event has raised eyebrows among political observers and Edo State residents, who are anxious about the state’s governance amidst this escalating internal conflict.
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