The Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osazee Osemwengie Ero, has been arrested by the Interpol in far away France.
Igbere TV gathered that the Commissioner, who organized the recently held Edo Festivals (EDOFEST), was arrested on allegations bothering on money laundering.
The sum of $2 million cash was said to have been found on him while the arrest was being effected at the Paris Airport in the presence of the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
It was gathered that both the Commissioner and the Governor were on their way from China, where the both were said to have gone for business deals.
Though the news broke the internet on Sunday night, December 29, Igbere TV however gathered that the arrest took place a week back.
But reacting to the development on Monday, Governor Godwin Obaseki said the arrest has nothing to do with him or his government.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communications Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, he said he could neither confirm or deny the arrest of the commissioner.
According to him, “We learnt about the alleged arrest of the Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Commissioner, Hon. Osaze Osemwingie-Ero from unreliable sources on social media and we are unable to confirm either the alleged arrest or what might have led to it.”
“But we can confirm without equivocation that whatever the issues might be, they are totally personal and have nothing whatsoever to do with the Edo State Government or Governor Godwin Obaseki,” he added.
Meanwhile, some citizens of Edo state have called out Governor Obaseki for disowning the state commissioner, asking the governor to work on his release.
A group under the aegis of Orhionmwon Peoples Movement, where the commissioner is from, alleged that the sum found on him was given to him by Obaseki for safekeeping.
“Rather than the Governor to use his good office to ensure the release of the commissioner, Obaseki came to Benin and lied that the arrest has nothing to do with him.”
The group said the most painful aspect of it is that the Governor is busy lying against the Commissioner and not telling the world the main reason he was arrested.
“The Governor is busy saying that the Commissioner was arrested not because of the money that was found with him but because of the offence he committed some years ago while in Italy.”
This action of the Governor, according to them, is to avoid the wrath of people who may feel angry over how Edo money is being looted abroad through the aid of his Commissioner.
They further claimed that the Commissioner has no criminal record or declared wanted before, saying they were surprised that the Governor was diverting attention from the reason he was arrested.
They, however, called on well meaning Edo people to prevail on the Governor to secure the release of their son as “it is unfair for him to treat his best Commissioner in this wicked and heartless manner.”
They insisted that they will be left with no other option than to take to street protests if the state commissioner is not released before the end of this year.
Obaseki, an APC governor, is seeking re-election next year. With this development, it is being alleged in some quarters that the governor may have pulling cash abroad to prosecute the elections.