Edo State experienced a high political tension on Thursday, October 16, 2914, over the arrest of the speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Uyi Igbe, the Majority Leader of the House, Philip Shaibu, and the Chief Whip, Folly Ogedengbe, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Abuja over alleged forgery.
These Honourable members, who went to Abuja on Monday, October 13, 2014 on the request of the EFCC, was reported to have been detained for alleged forgery of the signature of one of PDP lawmakers, Rasaq Momoh, during the process of impeachment of Edo state Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea.
Their detention triggered conflicting positions in the home state and as a result led to protest which was led by the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Kabiru Adjoto, in Benin.
Adjoto, who vowed that they would stage a one million man march to Abuja, if the lawmakers were not released on Thursday, October 16, 2014 describing the action of the EFCC as a “willing task carried out as a tool in the hand of the draconian ruling party ” to witch-hunt APC lawmakers in Edo State.
“If they kill our principal officers, we will fight with our blood,” Adjoto warned.
The chairman also raised alarm over alleged plot by the EFCC and the PDP to eliminate the the detained honourable but warned that the EFCC should be ready to kill the entire Edo people if such evil is meted on them
Pointing out more premises to stage a protest was the medical state of the detained speaker who was reported to have fainted twice at the EFCC cell in Abuja, making the situation more critical as the speaker is a renowned son of the Iyase of Benin Kingdom.
Speaking with the press on the state of the matter, Adjoto said:
“As I speak with you, the EFCC has arrested the speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, the Majority Leader, Philip Shaibu, Chief whip, Folly Ogedengbe. They were arrested Wednesday and as we speak they are being kept under very inhuman condition in Abuja.
“You are all aware that last week, there was a very vicious attack on the legislative quarters. Philip Shaibu sustained serious bullet wounds, the Speaker was wounded and the Chief whip was wounded equally”, he stated.
He further stated that the EFCC officials arrested them without considering their health conditions as the Speaker of the House was reported to have collapsed two times within EFCC premise.
“Philip is bleeding profusely and they are being denied medical attention,” he added.
“As we speak, the reasons for their arrest are that the EFCC said they forged the signature of Rasaq Momoh when the former deputy Speaker Festus Ebea was impeached.
“Our concern is this, when did the EFCC become an agency to investigate forgery of signature? When has forgery of signature become a financial crime? Impeachment of either the Speaker or Deputy Speaker is purely the business of the House. EFCC has no business what so ever with it. We are surprised that the EFCC can reduce itself to investigate a crime that has already been spelt out as a criminal matter according to the constitution.
According to the chairman, EFCC is not set up to investigate forgery of signature and that they have reduced themselves shows that they are not just acting.
“As we speak, the leadership of the PDP in Edo State is at the headquarters in Abuja. And the most worrisome is that the President of the country has given directive that these three principal officers of the Edo State House of Assembly be charged to court and be remanded indefinitely. That is giving us serious concerns. One will expect the police to investigate that matter, what has EFCC got to do with forgery of signature?
“Last week these same people came here to kill us. As we speak, innocent people are being picked up on the streets of Benin, but the real people have that committed crime not been arrested. They went to PDP secretariat and were celebrating.
“But as a people, we will not fold our hands and allow this injustice to continue. We are giving EFCC till 4pm today to release these principal officers. If they refuse to release them, as a people we have resolved to organise a one million man march to Abuja and Abuja will know that we have arrived,” he assured.