Edo State Government agents—Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) on Monday reportedly attacked a peaceful procession by Committee for the defence of human Right (CDHR) in alliance with all other Civil society Organizations National Day of mass action against insecurity in Nigeria in Benin City, the State Capital.
A former Attorney-General of the State, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, national President, Committee for the defence of human Right who led the Assembly and other prominent Citizens in the State got a close shave with death in the hands of the Public Works Volunteers better known as PUWOV.
The agents, according to reports, purported that the national day of mass action against insecurity in Nigeria, was meant to smear the image of the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
Recall that in November 2019, members of Edo Civil society Organizations (EDCSO’s) who were on a peaceful procession over the non-functional multi billion Edo State Specialist hospital Complex on Sapele road in Benin City were also attacked by agents of the Government.
Investigation revealed that the peaceful Assembly, however turned awry when the PUWOV officials who wielded dangerous weapons, disrupted the peaceful procession and destroyed the effigy, electronic targets including computer set, and musical equipment that at the popular new Benin market in Oredo Local Government Area of the State which was the take-off point.
But for the prompt intervention of police officers who responded to a distressed call, the frenzy atmosphere would have lead to bloodbath between the protesters and PUWOV officials who claimed to acted on the instruction of a prominent politician in the State.
It was further learnt that the lawful Citizens later retreated from the procession and later converged on the premises of Edo State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) where the leaders of the group briefed the Press.
Barely few minutes after the protesters walked into the Press Centre, some armed members of Edo State vigilante Network, stormed the venue to monitor the activities of the protesters and defend the action of PUWOV.
The leader of security Network who did not disclose his identity, said they were trying to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the rally in a bid to avoid a another round of EndSARS riot in October last year.
SARS is the acronym for the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigeria police by the federal Government.
Addressing newsmen, the leader of the rally, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, said they cannot be intimated by agents of the Government.
He demanded the disbandment of PUWOV and called for a reform of Edo State local vigilante.
While lamenting the alleged attack and disruption of the lawful Assembly, Obayuwana, bemoan the destruction of property by PUWOV officials.
“We cannot end this talk without drawing your attention to our experience today (Monday). We gathered at the new Benin market in Benin City. We were to walk to the NUJ press Centre. There is an agency of Edo State Government called Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV).
“They are volunteers on matters of public Works. They attacked us. We had more banners that this; They destroyed out banners. They took our computers with which we were playing music and smashed it. They say it is because we are against Obaseki’s Government. How can that be? What we are going is a national programme. The way we are addressing you is the way our colleagues in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kano and other places. They is what they are doing.
“So, all those thugs they put uniform on have turned against the people. They do not want us to express the kind of things we are doing right now. So, our demand is that PUWOV should be disbanded. They are no more than thugs because they have not been trained. They do not know how to relate with members of the public.
“From that fracas at New Benin. The DPO from Okhoro and New Benin police Divisions came in and the area Commander came in. Of course, the police Commissioner in Edo State sent somebody and said they understand how we feel. They identify with us and said they would have been happier if we had worked out the modalities with them ahead of time. That notwithstanding in the light of the tensed situation that has arisen, they requested to see some of our leaders.
“We had to go see him and of course, the discussion was very cordial. We have know personal interest outside of being part of the Nigerian people. So, nobody can stifle us on this issue of security, we want justice to prevail in Nigeria and then, there will be peace”, he declared.
Efforts to reach the reach the Coordinator of the Coordinator of PUWOV, Mr. Osagie Muktari, proved abortive as he was said to be unavailable.