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Stop the Edo bloodbath

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Early in the month, Benin, the capital of Edo state, was left shell-shocked by the grisly murder of Comrade Oyerinde   Olaitan, the Principal Private Secretary of the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole. At once, the gruesome act reverberated across the country, reawakening dreadful memories of similar reprehensible and dastardly acts.
The Olaitan murder is, by no means, accidental. We are of the considered opinion that the underlying motive of the cruel murder of the former trade unionist was political. It is in the public arena that violence is defining the shape of the gubernatorial election in the state in less than two months.
We are not altogether surprised at the vicious turn of events in the state since the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria(A C N) dislodged the Peoples Democratic Party after a fierce legal battle that culminated in the sack of the PDP controlled government in 2008.
Though the election is slated for July 17, the fierce campaigning by the two main contending political parties is, we dare say, partly responsible for the climate of growing insecurity in that state.
Before Olaitan’s tragic end, Governor Oshiomhole had blamed the opposition for the death of three journalists in his convoy in an accident which, the clearly embattled governor described as a failed assassination attempt on his life. Speaking through his Commissioner of Information, Louis Odion, the governor alleged that he was the main target of an assassination plot, which he claimed was masterminded by the opposition.
Shortly afterwards, Mr.  Odion raised another alarm, alleging that his life was in danger on account of a visit to his family residence by strangers asking for his whereabouts just 12 hours after the accident that killed the reporters.
Expectedly, the PDP responded to the accusation, defending itself and describing the charge as ‘‘wicked and criminal’’. The murder of Olaitan   on Thursday May 3 was the climax of a politically charged week for both gladiators.
Since the dawn of this democracy in this country in 1999, several persons have been killed for reasons that are not unconnected with politics. Prominent among the endless list of the callously assassinated are the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Bola Ige, notable opposition figures in the South-south Harry Marshall and A. K. Dikibo, among others. Each of the times those unlucky Nigerians fell to the assassins’ bullets, the authorities made an elaborate show of tracking down the killers but months and years later, nothing came of the investigations.
The presidential directive to the police to fish out killers of Olaitan in two weeks has a familiar ring. In the wake of Bola Ige’s assassination, the Obasanjo administration made a similar posturing. So also was that of Harry Marshall, which the police was quick to conclude it was a robbery that went awry. Given the lacklustre performance of the police in resolving such cases, we are sceptical that killers of Olaitan will ever be found. We, however, take solace in the dictum that no evil ever goes unpunished no matter how long it takes, as perpetrators of evil will definitely have to pay some day.
As we commiserate with the family of Olaitan and indeed the families of all those who suffered a similar fate, we urge the people of Edo state to, please, put a stop to the bloodbath.

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