It is only those who have lost beloved ones in such gruesome manner that can feel the depth of Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s pain on the assassination of Olaitan Oyerinde, his principal private secretary. The young man, said to be in his early 40s, was gunned down in the wee hours of Friday, May 4. Many of those who saw the governor on television declaring that he had lost a son were moved to tears. The governor too was said to have wept. So, what is going on in Edo State? Only a week earlier, the governor’s convoy was involved in an accident. Three journalists who were inside one of the vehicles died. They are yet to be buried. Oshiomhole himself missed death by a whisker. And a short while ago, some suspicious characters were said to have invaded the home of Louis Odion, the commissioner for information. Odion was not in when the uninvited guests called. What a lucky man! When, in reacting to his close shave with death, Oshiomhole claimed the accident was “arranged” to eliminate him, not a few did a guffaw. Now that his private secretary has been brutally gunned down, those who doubted him are wondering whether, perhaps, the governor could have been right after all that somebody out there is bent on killing him.
And what is at stake? The next governorship election which holds in July. It is going to be a straight fight between the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the incumbent, who is the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria. Since the court sacked Oserheimen Osunbor of the PDP, Oshiomhole’s rival in the 2007 governorship race, there has been no love lost between the two parties. Osunbor’s election was voided because of rigging, and the court declared Oshiomhole the rightful winner of that election. It seems that hostility has turned into bloodlust. At least that is the thinking of Oshiomhole. He is pointing accusing fingers at a “godfather.” His words: “We have the capacity to cage the godfather and return blood for blood. We won’t just go and sleep.
We have to resolve how we want to run it and I am not ready to be looking as if my tenure is at the mercy of anybody. Only the people of Edo can determine that.” That is not all. Oshiomhole claimed that this “godfather has been using President Goodluck Jonathan’s name to campaign, telling the people he has the President’s backing to use any means to win the governorship election.” And to drive home the point that his claims are no mere conjectures, Oshiomhole recalled a meeting he had with the state’s commissioner of police 48 hours before Oyerinde’s murder. During the meeting, the governor reportedly gave a letter to the commissioner which had details of the opposition’s plan to cause mayhem before the election through accidents and killings.
Now, Oyerinde has been brutally killed. And his boss and many peace-loving Nigerians are aghast at the tragedy. Will the police rise to the occasion? Can the N10 million bounty promised whoever provides a clue to his killers fish them out? Beyond the reward, how weighty is the marching order given by the President to the acting inspector general of police to solve the riddle of Oyerinde’s murder and, indeed, all other assassinations of prominent people? Considering the history of assassinations in the country, methinks the latest presidential order is a tall one. Nothing may come out of it. Bola Ige, a serving attorney general of the Federation, was assassinated. Till today, the murderers are still at large. Aminasoari Dikibo, national vice chairman, South-south of the PDP, was assassinated.
Another party chieftain, Harry Marshal, was killed in cold blood. These are just a few of those who have been killed since 1999 just because of political differences. So those who shed Oyerinde’s blood may never be brought to justice because there is a thriving “nest of killers” among the nation’s political class. And the police and judicial system are so skewed in their favour for now that uprooting them will require a leader who has the nerve to clean his own Augean stables. Thus it will not be surprising if both the reward and President Jonathan’s order yield no result in respect of bringing Oyerinde’s murderers to book. And that would be a shame!