The leadership of Edo State Public Works Volunteers better known as (PUWOV) has condemned the alleged attack on a peaceful procession by human Rights activists during the National Day of mass action against insecurity in Nigeria in Benin City by its agents.
The State Coordinator of PUWOV, Mukhtar Yusuf-Osagie in a statement on Friday, blamed the the face-off between overzealous officials of the group and members of Civil society Organizations (CSOs) and Committee for the defence of human Right (CDHR) led by a former attorney-general in the State, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana on “a distress call received by our intelligence Unit to the effect that some suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were gathering around the New Benin area to disrupt the peace of the area”.
According to the PUWOV Coordinator, “In a bid to be proactive and prevent any possible breakdown of law and order in the area, it is believed that our officials on duty who were ordinarily acting in good faith, may have overzealously,acted in an unprofessional manner, not minding the laid-down mode of operations of the agency”.
He apologised to Obayuwana who he said the government hold in high esteem, adding that “as a very responsible Agency of government in resonance with Mr Governor’s belief in the Rule of Law and respect for Citizens’ rights, we indeed regret whatever may have transpired on that said date”.
Yusuf-Osagie emphasized that “As a law-abiding Agency, we condemn the actions of these officials, in strong terms, and tender our unreserved apology to the entire members of these Bodies,in general and most especially, our very revered Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, a foremost Human Rights Activist, a former Attorney-General of Edo State and a very distinguished legal practitioner, who we hold in high esteem.”
Our Correspondent recalls that the leader of the peaceful rally, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana who addressed the Press at Edo State Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) after a brief meeting with police authorities in the State, 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 stressed.