The rift between Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, further deepened yesterday.
The embattled number two citizen of the state was barred from accessing his office inside the Government House, Benin-city, the state capital.
Shaibu arrived at the office in the early hours of yesterday in company with some of his aides, but met the gates of the one-storey building hosting his office firmly locked.
He, however, left about an hour after interacting with some security personnel who informed him that the office was locked following a “directive from above.”
A member of his disbanded media flayed the development, saying there was no official communication informing Shaibu that his office had been relocated.
Eight days ago, the state government relocated the deputy governor’s office to the Government Reservation Area(GRA) in Benin allegedly on the orders of Obaseki.
The relocation was done a few days after the deputy governor withdrew from the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, a suit in which he requested that an alleged plot by the state House of Assembly to impeach him be halted
The new office has a signboard with a Coat of Arms and bold inscription: “Office of the Deputy Governor, No. 7, Dennis Osadebey Avenue, GRA, Benin City.”
Also visible at the entrance of the one-storey building is an unveiled inauguration plaque with this inscription: “Edo State Public Procurement Agency – This building was commissioned by His Excellency, The Comrade Governor, Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, MNI, OON, Edo State Governor, on Tuesday, 16th December 2014.”
Civil servants attached to Shaibu’s office were the first to relocate on Monday last week. Others joined based on memos to that effect from an unnamed permanent secretary in the Government House.
A source said before the deputy governor left the Government House premises, he had “some discussions with the state’s Commissioner of Police and the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), alerting them of how he was locked out from his office.”
He added: “Comrade Shaibu summoned the Government House, Benin City’s Camp Commandant, Ibrahim Babatunde and asked him why he was locked out of his office. But Babatunde told him ‘it was a directive from above.
“Babatunde also told him ‘that the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Government House, Williams Wabba, is in a better position to explain.’
“The deputy governor put calls to Wabba and he promised to be there, but never did all through the period Comrade Shaibu waited.”
One of the aides of Obaseki, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, defended the action by the government.
He said: “Shaibu’s office has since been relocated. His office issued a statement to that effect. When they moved their office equipment, his office also issued a statement to that effect.
“So, which of the offices are they referring to? Certainly, not the new office, because it is open and his staff members are operating from there. Why would he come to the complex housing the governor’s office? He is creating an issue where there is none.
“Edo State governor has spent millions of naira furnishing a new office complex for Shaibu and his staff members. It is the prerogative of the governor to decide where he wants government officials, including the deputy governor, to operate.
“Shaibu is trying to force his way into the governor’s office, because the governor has repossessed his former office, which is under lock and key, for renovation purposes.”
But an aide of the deputy governor said his boss deserved to be informed of the relocation of his office in writing.
The aide, who did not want his name in print, said: “All these are wicked spins from Edo State Governor’s media team. All that the Edo deputy governor is asking for is an official communication to move. The movement is not a verbal thing, because the office is a creation of the law.
“Governor Obaseki has insisted that he does not want Edo Deputy Governor around him anymore, but he should do the right thing. We are still expecting his (Obaseki’s) letter.”
Obaseki earlier accused Shaibu, who hails from Edo North Senatorial District of planning a “coup.” But the deputy governor insisted that he remained loyal to the governor. He also declared that his loyalty would not stop his ambition to succeed Obaseki on November 12, 2024.
Obaseki, an indigene of Benin in the Edo South Senatorial District, wants his successor to come from Esanland/Edo Central Senatorial District to ensure fairness, equity and justice.