Also, three vehicles, one of them a car mounted with public address system belonging to the CSOs were vandalised while many persons including passers-by were robbed of their cell phones and other valuables.
Members of the CSOs were protesting the recent amendment of the 2007 pension benefits for former governors and deputy governors in which N300 million worth of choice houses were approved for immediate past Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, as well as other mouth-watering largesse by lawmakers in a bill now before the state House of Assembly.
The protesters had converged on the National Museum Complex near Kings Square, otherwise known as Ring Road, from where they trekked to the Assembly to register their grievances before the lawmakers.
But minutes after they had gathered in front of the legislative complex, the APC youths in their hundreds swooped on them and chased them out. The APC members alleged that the CSOs’ protest was sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC youths destroyed the vehicle and banner with bold inscription: “Edo People Say No To Bogus Pension Package for Ex-Governors and Deputies,” used by the protesters.
The protesters and others who tried to take photographs of the procession were severely beaten while their phones and other personal effects were seized.
Surprisingly, armed policemen deployed to the Assembly Complex watched helplessly as the two parties engaged in combat which lasted for about an hour.
Both sides later parted as the CSOs members diverted towards Sakponba Road while the raging youths stationed themselves in front of the Anthony Enahoro legislative complex with chants of song in solidarity with the state government.
Spokespersons for the CSOs, Comrades Omobude Agho and Osaze Edigin, condemned the attack and described it as an attempt to murder democracy in the state.
“These were people protesting without even broom. You saw how they destroyed cars. We just rushed some of us to the hospital now. Other comrades and I were beaten mercilessly.
“We were shocked to see some members of the past government in a blue Mercedes Benz driving and giving them (youths) instructions. We saw some people we recognised very clearly, we know them they are politicians whose wives and children are not in this state, they are not even in this country. I think our democracy has eventually been murdered,” Agho said.
But the leader of the APC youth group, Comrade Joseph Amufua, said: “We are aware that some persons are protesting against the pension benefits to the former governors and their deputies; we want to make it known to Edo people that these people are being sponsored by the PDP.
We are the youths of Edo State and we welcome the pension benefits for Comrade Governor Oshiomhole and his deputy.” In a swift reaction, the state government described the allegation by the CSOs as malicious and had no iota of truth.