…denies endorsing APC guber candidate, Ize-Iyamu

BENIN CITY – Lead Pastor at HillCity and Executive Director, Canvassers for Democracy and Rule of Law, Rev. Olu Martins has maintained that he remains an unrepentant supporter of Governor Godwin Obaseki and his administration, flaying rumours that he has jumped ship to support the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the September 19, 2020 governorship election.

Speaking at a Press Conference in Benin City on Wednesday, Martins said in an address entitled, I did not endorse Pst. Ize-Iyamu (A Joke Taken Too Far), that he needed to denounce the rumour making the rounds before it wears the toga of truth.

According to him, “For some 48 hours now, my phone has been inundated with calls and texts of my purported endorsement of the APC candidate Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Unfortunately, I suffered a double jeopardy of losing my Android phone and a failing health hence I couldn’t respond to all the lies immediately. Now that I have recovered, I thought to come straight with the facts before this lie wears the toga of the truth.”

He insisted that there was never a time he endorsed Osagie Ize-Iyamu nor joined his campaigns as “you can’t find any video or text of me doing the same anywhere. Can you endorse someone without saying you did in a formal outing?”

“Pastor Ize-Iyamu is my very good friend and that of my family whom I respect and relate with freely and regularly. He has played a pivotal role in my life and continues to. He was instrumental to my marriage to my wife, having been key to our meeting and mobilising support to the success of the same. Not many know that my in-laws are even closer to Ize-Iyamu, having known him for over 25 years. I met Ize-Iyamu in year 2000 when I was Students Union President in Ekpoma and we have remained close since then.”

On the circumstances surrounding the visit, he said, “I visited Ize-Iyamu (as I normally will, being a friend that politics won’t separate) on Sunday 23rd August to have a private chat with him where I met some of my friends on the APC/POI divide. We laughed and joked together as the pictures they posted showed. I am an activist and not a party person and I can associate freely. That association shouldn’t be tagged endorsement or dumping Obaseki when that is not what I came to do. Moreover, since it was indoors in my ‘elder brother’s’ house I saw no harm until I saw the pictures and the caption that followed.”

He added, “ On August 24th, I was invited to a meeting of pastors which turned out to be an endorsement for POI. My presence there was purely spiritual with ministry intentions only. I wasn’t part of those who signed the communiqué as my role was spiritual and non-aligned.”

On insinuations that he was induced to make the move, he said the allegations are ludicrous and dumb, noting, “the allegation of financial inducement is as ludicrous and dumb. N680,000 advancement for an agreed sum of N5 million? Can you imagine that nonsense talk? What is N5m and what is N680k. I have direct access to His Excellency, the Governor, so if I need N5m I can ask him directly. I have had several one-on-one with Governor Obaseki. I have many friends in government including Rt. Hon. Comr. Philip Shaibu, the Deputy Governor. We were in the students’ movement together as far back as 1999. If I was really money-conscious, I would have long sold out and compromised when Adams Oshiomhole was Governor.”