There was confusion in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Tuesday, as the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress announced the suspension of its chairman, Anselm Ojezua.
Shortly after the announcement, another message emerged from the Government House announcing the removal of the state secretary, Lawrence Okah and the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
It was gathered that the sacking of Ojezua caught the state government unawares, forcing Governor Godwin Obaseki to summon an emergency meeting of party leaders in the state.
At the end of the meeting, the ruling party announced the suspension of Okah and Oshiomhole, having passed a vote of no confidence in them.
Earlier in the day, the State Working Committee of the APC had passed a vote of no confidence in Ojezua. Eleven out of the 16-member SWC voted against him during their meeting.
Consequently, Col. David Imoise (retd.) was elected to oversee the affairs of the party pending when “allegations of anti-party activities levelled against Ojezua are investigated.”
According to a statement by Okah, the change in leadership has been communicated to the party’s National Working Committee.
But a statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said it was Okah that was sacked from office.
“The Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress has removed the State Secretary of the party, Mr Lawrence Okah,” Osagie said.
He said the party also passed a vote of confidence in Ojezua’s leadership.
“This is coming as party chairmen across the 18 local government areas of the state passed a vote of no confidence in the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole,” he added.
Also, briefing journalists after a meeting of the party’s executive committee earlier, the state APC deputy chairman, Kenneth Asekomhe, said, “After the meeting of the State Executive Committee, in pursuant of Article 17, Section 5 of the APC constitution of 2014, as amended, we have passed a vote of no confidence in the state secretary of the APC, Mr Lawrence Okah. He is hereby removed from office.
“The committee also passed a vote of confidence in the state chairman of the APC, Mr Anselm Ojezua.”
The APC chairmen in the 18 local governments of the state also reaffirmed their support for the second term bid of Obaseki.
The APC Chairman in Esan Central LGA and Secretary, Edo State APC Chairmen Forum, Mike Anakaso, said the chairmen passed a vote of no confidence in Oshiomhole for his role in trying to disintegrate the party in the state.
The state APC auditor, Timothy Osadolor, and the financial secretary, Golda Oribhabor-Onwuka, distanced themselves from a document purporting to remove the state chairman.
Speaking at the party’s secretariat, the two party officials explained that they were taken in a commando-like style to the residence of the suspended secretary and forced to sign some documents.
Osadolor said, “We were taken in a commando-like style to the house of the state secretary, where I was forced to sign the documents purportedly removing Anslem Ojezua.”
“There were just eight or nine signatures on the document. My name was badly spelt. I didn’t draw their attention to it but had to play along by signing the document with a fake signature.”
APC LG chairmen back Oshiomhole
But some local government chairmen of the Edo APC described as untrue the purported vote of no confidence passed in Oshiomhole.
A statement by the leaders of the chairmen and chairman of the party in Etsako West, Mr Ibrahim Akokia, Suleman Bagudu (Etsako Central) and Lugard Alukpe (Owan West) said, “We are the chairmen of the party in the 18 LGAs and we are not aware of the meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed in the national chairman of our party, Oshiomhole, who is doing very well.”
“Rather, we are aware that majority of the chairmen have suffered intimidation and harassment in the hands of the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration.”
“Therefore, we chairmen have passed a vote of no confidence in Governor Obaseki, and the suspended state chairman of the party, Anslem Ojezua. They have not only failed the party, but the people of the state.”
They said from the statements of some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, Obaseki and Ojezua had been involved in anti-party activities and they lacked the moral rights to remain in the party.
They added, “Oshiomhole remains our leader and we pass vote of confidence in his leadership.”
“We call on the National Working Committee of the party to expel Obaseki from the APC because he is on a mission to destroy the APC in Edo State, but we will resist it.”
Meanwhile, the state PDP on Tuesday announced the exclusion of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from all party activities with immediate effect.
Ize-Iyamu had been reported to be making moves to join the APC.
A statement signed by the state Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, read,”In the last few days, the Edo PDP has been inundated with calls and enquiries regarding the stories trending both in the print and social media as it concerns one of our leaders, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“As a result of the ‘uneasy quiet’ from our dear pastor and the impression our silence will send to our teeming supporters and followers, the Edo PDP is left with no option but to announce the exclusion of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from all the PDP-related activities with immediate effect, until he acknowledges, accepts and addresses the issue of his defection to the APC.”