A former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, has dismissed the call for his arrest by incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, saying his successor has no right to give such an order.
The two political gladiators have been at odds for years, a feud that led to Obaseki, elected in 2016 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in his first term, forced to defect to the Peoples Demcoratic Party where his re-election bid was achieved in 2020.
On Wednesday, violent protests in the state over a controversial naira swap policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the ensuing scarcity of new currency prompted a response by the state government in which it accused Oshiomhole of masterminding the demonstrations.
Obaseki was quoted as alleging that the former governor mobilised thugs to vandalise banks and disrupt the peace of the state over the naira scarcity.
“At this stage, we call on security agencies to arrest Adams Oshiomhole for questioning and to account for his movement, especially here in Benin City in the last few days. He deliberately instigated the protest of the people,” read the statement by the state Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare.
But Oshiomhole, addressing journalists in Edo State on Friday, said his reaction to the allegation was one of amusement.
“When I read initially on social media… that Obaseki has ordered the police to arrest me, I had a very good laugh.
First, because Obaseki doesn’t know that he doesn’t have the power to order the arrest of a citizen. And that’s the reason why some people have reservations about what people like Obaseki talk about state police.”
The APC senatorial candidate in Edo North argued that it was up to the law enforcement agencies to investigate anyone they deemed a person of interest and that if found wanting, they may be invited for questioning.
“The police have not – and I would be surprised if they have now – generated to the level of taking orders from a politician who is faced with a crisis of confidence and the people are revolting against him,” he added.
Oshiomhole revealed his idea of an ideal political leader and how government should respond.
“A governor or a leader must be able to win the hearts of his people and talk them out of bitterness, and above all, give them hope that whatever are the challenges that they face, the government is in a position to do something about it. This is what the government should do.”
Noting that protests were part of democratic ideals, Oshiomhole however denounced the riots that broke out across the state.
“I believe Nigerians have a right to protest against anything that they are not happy about. But I also want Nigerians to understand that there’s a huge difference between protest and rioting.
The problem of rioting is like shooting a gun into a market: you don’t know who it will hit. But when you peacefully decide to protest, that is what distinguishes a free people from slaves,” he said.