It was a carnival at the Benin City airport yesterday as thousands of supporters of the APC thronged the airport to welcome three principal officers of the state House of Assembly; Speaker Uyi Igbe, Majority leader, Philip Shaibu and Chief Whip, Folly Ogedengbe who were detained in Abuja since Thursday by the EFCC over allegations of forgery.
Meanwhile, the police said it has arraigned 22 persons suspected to have been part of the attack on the legislative quarters last Saturday that left scores injured and over 30 vehicles damaged. Speaking with newsmen at the airport shortly before they moved into a long convoy, Uyi Igbe said they were invited to Abuja expecting that they would be accused of Financial crime but that they were shocked that they were accused of forgery of a signature to impeach former Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea.
“Last week we were invited by the EFCC and they claimed that they were doing some investigations and that we will be able to contribute to it. So we went there on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we went to the EFCC office. And I was of the impression that the EFCC means Financial Crimes Commission, and therefore I was under the impression that they were going to investigate financial misappropriations. Only for us to get there and issues that concerns the House of Assembly was what they brought up. What they were telling us was that somebody alleged that we forged the signature amongst the signatures that we used to impeach the former Deputy Speaker Festus Ebea. And therefore that was the reason they invited us. I was taken completely aback.
“But then again I am not too surprise because we all know that this is the systematic way that they use to harass and intimidate us. But I want them to know that this is only going to make us stronger, we will remain focused, we will keep our eye on the ball and eventually we will score the goal, we will not shake, we will not be intimidated, we refused to be intimidated, we are back to the state.
“We cannot be intimidated by EFCC, we cannot be intimidated even by the President or the PDP. As far as I am concerned, Nigeria remains one, Nigeria will grow from strength to strength and nobody can derail the destiny of this country. And we are ready to fight intellectually. We will not arm our youths but the power of the tongue we shall use to defeat them. Never again will Edo state go back to the years of under development; never again will this country get leaders that are clueless about the issues of Nigeria. We are determined to fight for the destiny of our children.
”A statement by the Deputy Police Public Relations Officer (DPPRO), Ejiro Ahwara yesterday indicated that the 22 were arraigned on various charges ranging from conspiracy, threatening violence, willful malicious damage and unlawful possession of weeds suspected to be Indian hemp. It said the police in the state remain neutral in the crisis rocking the state House of Assembly but, regretted that despite persistent warnings from the Command, “hoodlums still remain unrepentant as they still allow themselves to be used by political gladiators to carry out their selfish aims”