The Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Benin chapter, Edo State, has condemned the killing of a senior lecturer of the institution by gunmen, describing it as one death too many.
It also blamed the incident on the high level of insecurity in the state, which he said had kept the citizens under siege.
This is just as the Peoples Democratic Party blamed the increasing crime rate to the huge number of unemployed youths in the state, a claim the state government dismissed as false.
The deceased lecturer, Prof. Paul Otasowie, was said to have been shot dead in front of his residence on Ekehuan road in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State on Wednesday evening.
Otasowie, who was of the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering and a former Director of the institution’s Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme, was said to have been shot while in his car in a manner in which many suspected to be an assassination.
Although the police command could not be reached for comments on the matter, as the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Moses Nkombe, neither responded to calls or a text message sent to his telephone number by our correspondent, three suspects were said to have been arrested in connection with the killing.
However, the Chairman of the union in the institution, Prof. Julius Iyasele, said, “As it were, citizens of Edo State and Nigeria at large are under siege because within the space of one or two months, a number of our colleagues have been kidnapped or murdered in cold blood. A few days, a colleague from Ekiti State University, who is a council chairman in one of the polytechnics in Bayelsa, was shot at on the Benin bypass.
“The bullet pierced through the stomach of the driver and came out from the other side. The boy was just only lucky. And they said that they had just left a police checkpoint on the bypass when it happened. I don’t know whether we have security agents in the state.
“Yesterday, one of our colleague’s in-law who visited at Ekiadolor was also picked by kidnappers. When they (family) went to drop the money to release the person, from the experience of the victim, the people (kidnappers) were with sub-machine guns because they had bullets strapped around them.”
Iyasele faulted the disbandment of community development associations without an alternative for the dependants and called on the state government and the Nigeria Police to step up their security strategies in order to protect lives and property.
According to him, “The state government stopped CDAs and there is no alternative to them. These boys (CDA members) are people who are to used spending big-time money. You blocked area boys and there is no alternative; you have simply unleashed terror on the people.
“The actions (outlawing CDAs) but what we are saying is that you should have provided an alternative that is so simple to get.”
On its part, the PDP in a statement signed by it Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, alleged that high level of crime was occasioned by the “new policy thrust” of the state government.
It, therefore, called for collaborative efforts between government and security agencies in order to tackle the menace,
The statement read in part, “The ‘we-will partner-with-you’ government in Edo State should stop chasing shadows and tackle substance. The insecurity in the state is most likely a direct consequence of the new policy thrusts of this government.
“This advice has become imperative as our lives are no longer safe with the daily reports of kidnapping and armed robbery. No investor will come to Edo with the crime rate the way it is, especially when there seem like no effort is been made in trying to tackle it.”
Reacting, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said that while there was no excuse for engaging crime, the state had a better employment record than any of its peer states in the South-South region.
“I think we should allow the police to carry out their constitutional responsibility. Many people have that the governor is the chief security officer of the state; of course, he is.
“But you are aware that the Federal Government is solely responsible for the administration, management and operation of the police and all other security agencies in the country. The responsibility of ensuring law and order rests squarely in the security agencies, led by the police.
“And the police have made statement concerning the professor, that it is cult-related and they have three people in custody. So, I think that should be the narrative, instead of trying to put political colouration into it.”