From  Osato Michael in Benin

Many people were alleged to have sustained injuries today as protest
embarked  upon by the Civil Society Group turned violent in Benin, the
Edo state capital.
The coalition of civil society group had embarked on peaceful protest
to registered their displeasure over the bill passed by the state
House of  Assembly which approved N200 and N100 million worth of
housing pension for former Governor, Adams Oshiomhole and his deputy,
Dr. Pius Odubu.
It was gathered that the CSO at about 10 am were protesting to the
state House of Assembly at the Kings Square to register their
displeasure over the bill when other protesters alleged to be
pro-government attack them and chase them away.
Witness said ” As CSOs were approaching the assembly, pro-government
group which stationed at the assembly pounced on them while the CSOS
run for their live. Many of them sustained injuries as a result of the
attack,” he said.
He said the irony of the attack was that it was carried out under the
watch of the police who did nothing to protect the CSO group.,”
Addressing journalists after the attack, the Coordinator of CSO, Agho
Omobude, alleged that they were on peaceful protesting when alleged
government sponsored thugs attacked them and beat them mercilessly. ”
About 12 of our members have been injured and rushed to hospital for
treatment while three vehicles were destroyed. We don’t know what
would have happened if we had not fleeing”

He alleged that  some officials of past government were driving behind
the thugs giving instruction on what to do with them, lamenting that
democracy has been murdered in the state.
” No matter the threat to our lives, we would not back down. We are
sending a strong message to the members of the Assembly and the state
government that we would not give up. We shall employ all means to
continue to fight and resist the obnoxious policy of government of
N200 and N100 million worth of housing pension,” he said
He denied the allegation that they were being sponsor by opposition
party, noting that the protest is not about political party but about
the obnoxious policy that affect the people.
A member of the counter protest, Joseph Aimufa, said they are
supporting the former governor due to his performance.  ” Oshiomhole
deserved more than N200million compared to the giant development
strides he had done in Edo state. That is why we have come to
appreciate the Edo State House of Assembly for the bill,” he said.

Responding, the state government through the Chief Press Secretary,
John Mayaki, said Edo government is too decent and responsible to
engage in anti-democratic means of sponsoring hoodlums to attack
citizens which we swore to protect.
“We recognise the rights and freedom of citizens to express their
opinion on public issues and would not do anything to infringe on
that. We believe in popular participation, engagement and in the
tenets of democracy.
He noted that there is no iota of truth in the report as government
will not in any way attempt to gag the people’s freedom of expression,
association and movement as enshrined in the Constitution.

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