The planned Mega Rally by persons purporting to represent the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, turned out a big flop as the Nigeria Police Force and the state government cancelled the event due to security concerns.
Youths in the state had staged protests across major roads in Benin metropolis on Thursday, warning that desperate politicians were importing thugs from outside the state to cause mayhem during the purported rally.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, on Thursday night, ordered that the event be cancelled over 'overriding internal security interests,' directing the state's commissioner of Police to meet with the opposing political interests.
This is as the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was on Friday morning placed under temporary house arrest by the Commissioner of Police to avert breakdown of law and order.
The Mega Rally was initially scheduled to hold at Garrick Memorial School, Ekenwan Road, but had to be moved to the private residence of the decampee, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who was set to lead his supporters to the APC.
However, on Friday morning, the state government issued a strongly-worded directive against holding of political rallies and demonstrations across the state, following rising security tension in the state.
The Police, in a letter addressed to the Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, signed by the Principal Staff Officer to the IGP, ACP Idowu Owohunwa, had said "in cognizance of the security consequences of the proposed Mega Rally, I am to confirm that the Inspector General of Police has directed the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command to emplace appropriate security framework that is directed at suspending the rally until further notice.
"He has also been directed to summon a meeting of all parties involved in the political development with a view to engaging them towards giving effect to his directives in overriding internal security interests."
It was learnt the police manned strategic points across the state to give effect to the state government's directive, which led to the dispersion of crowds that gathered at the Ugbor-Amagba axis of the state.
Comrade Oshiomhole was also not allowed out of his residence by the Commissioner of Police, Lawal Jimeta, who insisted that the political tension in the state would be exacerbated with him appearing in public.
On its part, the government warned all property owners that any venue used for activities in breach of its orders shall have its right of occupancy immediately revoked and forfeited to the Edo State Government, noting that it will not allow any person to turn the state into a battlefield.
According to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., on Friday, "The Government of Edo State has, over the past few days, made clear its position that the plans by some identified mischief-makers to organise an unauthorised political rally in Benin City, was capable of leading to a breakdown of public peace and also a danger to the persons and property of Edo citizens.
"The events of yesterday, 12th December, 2019, were a scary prelude to the absolute mayhem which these irresponsible activities would generate if left unchecked.
"In defiance of the clear and publicised instruction of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), calling off the proposed rally owing to the security implications, these desperate persons are presently shopping around for alternative venues to carry out their incendiary activities."
Noting that the primary purpose of government is the protection of life and property, Ogie said "the government of Edo State has placed a total and complete ban on all political rallies, demonstrations and/or processions in any part of Edo State.
"The Government has further directed all security agencies to deal firmly with all persons (no matter how highly placed), who act in breach of this directive."
The state government also warned parents and guardians "to advise their children and wards not to allow themselves to be used as cannon-fodder in aid of the misguided political ambition and ego of people, whose own children reside and school abroad."