The Delta State police have dismissed allegations by associates of Speaker Victor Ochei of the Delta House of Assembly that an explosion that rocked the venue of a political meeting called by the speaker was an assassination attempt. The meeting was at the instance of Mr. Ochei who is weighing a run for the governorship post in 2015.
Sources close to Mr. Ochei had told a correspondent of SaharaReporters that the explosion, believed to be from a bomb, was designed to kill the speaker.
Two participants at the meeting were reportedly injured. The speaker’s associates added that the attack, which occurred at Obomkpa, Aniocha North local government area of Delta State, was aimed at discouraging the speaker from seeking the state’s governorship.
But the police today insisted that they were not aware of any assassination plot against Mr. Ochei. The police went as far as labeling the speaker and his associates as “liars.”
Shortly after the reported explosion, the speaker and his associates asserted that there was an assassination attempt on Mr. Ochei’s life by political enemies in the area. The speaker credited his escape to God’s intervention.
In a telephone conversation, the speaker’s chief press secretary, Nkem Osu, said, “Yes the life of the speaker was targeted. It was a purely assassination attempt on the life of the speaker. I was there and I witnessed the whole situation. [It was] exactly the seat the speaker wanted to sit in that the explosion rocked. If the police said it was not an attempt on the life of the speaker, well may be they didn’t see what I saw.”
On Saturday, a political group linked to the speaker sent out mass text messages that focused on the now controversial explosion. The text read in parts, “Members of the Delta Focus Group, DFG, worldwide, rejoice with our PRINCIPAL, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei who escaped an assassination attempt believed to have been orchestrated by political enemies at Obomkpa community, Aniocha North LGA of Delta state. Can anyone reverse the decision of the Almighty God? We will surely get there. Powered by DFG.”
But in a fierce reaction, the state police image maker, Mr. Lucky Uyabeme, asserted that there was nothing like assassination attempt on the life of the speaker. He stressed that “politicians are liars,” accusing the speaker’s political group of making a mountain out of a mole hill. “What happened was never a bomb explosion but a traditional canon that was carelessly handled by the operator resulting in an explosion,” Mr. Uyabeme said.
The police spokesman said that preliminary police investigations had established that Mr. Ochei was never the target of the traditional canon that misfired at Obomkpa during the meeting.
“It was definitely not an assassination plot. What happened at Obomkpa was that the Speaker came for a political rally there and a man was employed to fire a traditional ceremonial canon to add color to the event. In the process of firing the canon, he was careless and the shot mistakenly hit two people. The firing, which can be likened to stray shots, mistakenly hit two people who are presently hospitalized. The Speaker was never deliberately targeted.” The officer added: “Going by the account from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the area, the canon shooter who has since been arrested by the police was careless in the handling of the canon. The canon did result in the injury of two persons who are presently hospitalized. Nobody is planning to kill the speaker.”
He said the police would carry out a thorough investigation into the matter.
Mr. Ochei’s governorship ambition had on Friday suffered a violent setback as an explosion went off during a political meeting he was presiding over at Obomkpa. One of the injured persons was identified as a female personal assistant to Bishop Ken Ebolum of Dominion Christian Center, Asaba.