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Gov Obiís residence razed

Posted by By GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka on 2006/10/29 | Views: 952 |

Gov Obiís residence razed

The political crisis in Anambra State took another twist on Sunday, with the razing of the State Governmentís lodge, embattled Governor Peter Obiís residence, in Onitsha by unknown arsonists.

The political crisis in Anambra State took another twist on Sunday, with the razing of the State Governmentís lodge, embattled Governor Peter Obiís residence, in Onitsha by unknown arsonists.

Though the cause of the fire, which completely destroyed the building and the property therein, was not yet clear as at press time, eyewitness said it started at about 1.30a.m from the governorís bedroom.

But the Hon. Mike Balonwu led faction of the state House of Assembly, in a reaction to news of the fire incident alleged that the government had a hidden agenda and was merely creating "an artificial state of anarchy" even as they raised alarm that Obi was threatening their lives, over their plan to remove him.

The lawmakers also attributed the fire incident to the failure of the state governor to provide adequate security as the chief security officer of the state.
However, in a letter signed by 17 of them and addresed to the state Commissioner of Police, the lawmakers alleged that Governor Obi was, through a media campaign, inciting their constituencies and traditional rulers to rise against and deal with them by also destroying their property.

At about 9.30a.m when Governor Obi got to the scene where the state Police Commissioner, Mr. John Haruna was already on the ground, the men of the State Fire Service were still battling to finally put off the fire.

The gardener in the lodge, Mr. Chimezie Chijioke, said domestic staff were alerted by the policemen on guard some minutes after 1.00a m that the governorís room was on fire, noting that before rescue actions could be taken, the entire house was razed.

The State Fire Service Operations Officer, Mr. Onia Stephen, said his men were alerted at about 2.09a. m of the inferno and by the time they arrived the scene, three minutes after, the damage had been done although they made efforts to ensure that the fire did not spread to houses around it.
But speaking to newsmen at the scene, Governor Obi described the incident as politically motivated to further heat the system, adding that he was the target.

He said: "About 3a.m this morning, a telephone call came consistently to say that the Government Lodge Onitsha is ablaze. I have looked at the place, checked around the building; I can only say that this is something that happened two days ago.

"I was informed by security reports that a group of people are trying to storm Onitsha. It is not just me, the same thing got to Obi of Onitsha, and some other eminent people and I decided that the best thing is to keep it quiet in order not to create tension in the state. But I didnít know that the storming of Onitsha would start with me.

"All I can say is that those who did this, we leave them to God because I believe it is politically motivated but this is not politics. I was here (Saturday), I came in here and left about 4p.m.As you know, I live here, all my property, my children and wifeís property are all here. I only have left this dress I am wearing and maybe one more, including everything my wife and children have, I lost everything I came to Anambra with".
Meanwhile, the police are interrogating the nine staff in the lodge and policemen on duty on the fateful night.

The Police Commissioner, Mr. Haruna who disclosed this at the scene said that because of the political rumblings in the state, the command had taken steps to secure all government property.
On the withdrawal of the Governorís ADC, Mr. Onovo, whom the government said was part of the plot to destabilize the state; Haruna said he only travelled for a course in America.

"It is not withdrawal, you must have learnt that a number of officers have been slated to attend community policing course in the United States of America, that is why ADC to the Governor is one of the beneficiaries. He is not the only one. All of them were asked to return to Abuja last week Monday. I only released him last Thursday. Already, His Excellency has traveled; we have arranged a number of officers of the same rank for him to choose from as a replacement.

His commissioners addressed a press conference this afternoon (yesterday), where they alleged that members of the House of Assembly intend to perpetrate arson. The Governor also directed the state radio station to intermittently announce our names over the wireless with a call on the citizens to inflict harm on us", they alleged.

The legislators observed that the intention of the media campaign against them was aimed at inciting people to burn down their property "simply because the House of Assembly is carrying out its constitutional duty in an orderly manner". Continuing, the text reads:
"What is worse, His Excellency, Governor Peter Obi is inciting the people through the State Radio/Television to turn out en masse at the state judiciary headquarters on Monday, October 30, 2006 to disrupt the inauguration of the seven-man panel about to start investigating our allegations against the Governor", they further alleged.

The lawmakers wondered why a chief security officer of the state with his retinue of security could allow people burn down the Governorís lodge. They, therefore, urged the governor to resign on account of his inability to provide security at the lodge and the state.

The House also decribed the intermittent announcement of the names of the lawmakers involved in the impeachment project at intervals on the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) as "unethical" and called on the National Broadcasting Commission to take the necessary disciplinary measures against the radio station.

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