The Edo State Government on Sunday denied there was a plan to assassinate the deputy governor, Pius Odubu.
In a statement, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Kassim Afegbua, described the claim as false.
About seven people, including a policeman and an operative of the State Security Service were reportedly injured during an attack on Saturday.
The attack occurred at the secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Auchi, Etsako West Local Government Area when Mr, Odubu was meeting party delegates. The deputy governor is seeking to be the party’s candidate in the next governorship election.
After the attack, the deputy governor’s campaign organization blamed his political opponents for the attack. The Deputy Governor also said at a press briefing on Sunday that he was the target of the attack.
However, the government’s statement said, “Our attention has been drawn to newspaper reports and subsequent press statement by the Odubu Campaign Organisation on the alleged assassination attempt on Dr Pius Odubu, the Deputy Governor of Edo State and a gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“While we condemn in very strong terms the ugly incident at Auchi, we note, however, that the conclusion of the Odubu Campaign Organisation on alleged assassination attempt appears hasty as preliminary reports suggest that the fracas at Auchi was caused by thugs loyal to the Odubu campaign imported in two truck-loads to Auchi who attacked other party loyalists not sold to the Deputy Governor’s aspiration.
“It is instructive to note that the Deputy Governor was inside the secretariat building of the APC in the company of the Party Chairman in the Local Government, Alhaji Umoru Akokhia, addressing the delegates while thugs loyal to him who had become unruly fired gunshots at other APC loyalists who were outside protesting against his visit.
“We gathered authoritatively that the first shots were, in fact, fired by Odubu’s security details in an attempt to scare away the party faithful who were against the hoodlums imported to their domain by the Odubu Campaign Organisation, before thugs loyal to him fired at the party’s loyalists.
“It should be noted that among those who sustained injuries are APC loyalists who are presently receiving medical attention in the hospital. It is laughable that the Odubu Campaign Organisation will allege that the Deputy Governor, with full compliments of security details, was shot at yet no casualty was recorded on the other side and nobody apprehended.
“Given the above scenario, we find it lousy for anyone to impute assassination theory as propounded by the Odubu Campaign Organisation especially when investigations are still ongoing and the Police are yet to submit their findings on the fracas. A responsible campaign organisation should have waited for investigation reports before jumping into reckless conclusions.
“The Governor has already directed the Commissioner of Police to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the incident and whoever that is found culpable will be made to face the full wrath of the law no matter how highly placed. It should be understood that democracy is all about inclusive participation and contestation of ideas, and not rule of the gun.
“Every gubernatorial aspirant who truly wants to govern the state must live by the rules of the game and not the size of his guns and political thugs. Campaigns are generally a very interesting aspect of democracy; hence, it must not be reduced to bloodletting.”