Nigeria News

Ebonyi APC: In the Throes of Attacks

The All Progressives Congress does not appear to be finding it easy in Ebonyi State, writes Benjamin Nworie
 
In recent times, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi State
has come under several attacks and intimidation- all of which the
party alleged have the finger prints of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The attacks have become unprecedented since the APC started its
nationwide registration of members. And the salt of the nation is now
a target, recording attacks and mayhem on regular basis.
 
Many houses have been burnt- all belonging to APC members and
their supporters in most parts of the state. On the other hand, PDP has not made any report that its members have been attacked. The acts of violence have become even worrisome to the law enforcement agencies, on why the polity is already heated up when electioneering has not started.
 
However, if the attacks and destruction of property persist, there
is much indication that more blood may flow if the political parties are
not warned to talk to their supporters. This is because if there is a repeat
of the 2011 political violence in the state, the peace advocacy of the
state government may have been invented in vain.
 
Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Martin Elechi has always warned that any member of the PDP or his supporters that indulged in political violence for his sake is his “number one enemy”. But the threats of disowning the culprits have become seriously echoed than implemented. Yet, on a daily basis, complaints of attacks dominate the public domain.
Though Elechi and other PDP officials in the state never believed on the existence of APC or any other political party in the state, they may not dismiss the news of the frequent attacks on opposition supporters. But the truth is that APC exists in the state.
From the 2011 election, the party has overtaken the Ezza North Council area. Currently, APC has two seats in the state House of Assembly and one House of Representatives- Ezza North/ Ishielu federal
constituency, with Hon. Peter Edeh.
Elechi has expressed his preparedness to reclaim the mandate to its original owners, the PDP. He said the figures of APC membership registration as reported in some media were inflated.  But APC is also waxing stronger to spreading it tentacles towards overthrowing the PDP in 2015.
There was wide jubilation over the official registration of the 2011
governorship candidate of the defunct ANPP, Senator Julius Ucha in the
state. His registration was seen as a boost to the strength of APC in
the state, because of the impact he created in the last governorship
election.
PDP was liquefied on lingered legal tussle which also made them celebrate their victory. Ucha also reiterated the readiness of the new political party to wrest power from the PDP in 2015.
Ucha, who was the pioneer Speaker of the state Assemble also represented Ebonyi Central Senatorial zone for two terms. He said his decision to join APC was informed by the attendant rot in PDP and lack of focus and direction to provide needed democracy dividends to the masses, adding that his mission in APC was to bring change to governance and liberate the state from hardship.
The interpretation given to the APC registration baffled political observers in the state, a situation where attack on party supporters had increasingly become the order of the day.
It was widely reported that two out of the six suspects arrested by men of the state anti-robbery squad in connection with the kidnap of two APC registration officers in Ezza north local government area were caught with a bus, belonging to the council with the documents of the victims.
And because of its growing cases of kidnap in the state,
Elechi took a bold step to stem the tide. He quickly passed capital
punishment on any person convicted for kidnapping. It was in line with
the enormity of the cases that APC has raised alarm that proper punishment should be meted out to the kidnap suspects, alleging that the suspects have been released on the alleged directive of the state government.
But following alleged release of the suspects, APC called on President Goodluck Jonathan and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to order the re-arrest of the suspects in connection with the kidnap of the two registration officers of the party.
The victims, Mr. Moses Anyigor and Donatus Omenyi were reportedly whisked away in a waiting vehicle belonging to the local government area by six gun men on the alleged directive of a senior council official.
The victims named the six suspects as Okey Ogbu, who is the younger
brother to the council chairman; Nonso Nwafor, Emeka Oka, Kelechi
Elom, ifeanyi Onuegbe and Friday Okereke. The police said two of the suspects have been arrested.
The victims, while narrating their ordeals in the hands of the
kidnappers said they were tortured, humiliated and maltreated. The
other four suspects are now at large but police have assured the people that the command would stop at nothing to ensure that they were brought to book.
The duo of Anyigor and Omenyi said the kidnappers first demanded for the registration materials and that a senior council official sent them.
 
An APC chieftain, Mr. John Nwagu, advocated that the suspects and those at large should be charged to court without further delay owing to the magnitude of their offence.
Nwagu alleged that they have been released by the state government without facing trials. He also alleged that the police may have yielded to pressure from various quarters to release the suspects especially because of the involvement of the local government chairman on the platform of PDP who was earlier accused of masterminding the kidnap before the arrest of his younger brother.
But the state Police spokesman, ASP Chris Anyanwu, immediately denied the allegation and insisted that the suspects were still in their
custody. He noted that investigations were still ongoing over the
incident.
“Governor Elechi was the first governor in the entire South
East that signed the anti kidnap bill into law which he said attracts capital punishment. It is therefore contrary to that effect that a younger brother to the council chairman could use the vehicle belonging to the council to kidnap people and demanded N2million and since they have been arrested, they have not been charged to court.
“APC which has become the endangered species shall continue to fight
this injustice and we wish to call on the Commissioner of Police to
toe the path of honour and justice and not allow himself to be used by
desperate politicians in the state,” Nwagu added.
Similarly, in Ohaozara local government, hometown of one of the APC
leaders, Onu was under attack over the registration exercise. The
thugs that invaded the area allegedly seized the registration
materials.
 
However, Onu could have been attacked by the hoodlums because, the state interim chairman of the party, Mr. Chaka Nweze, said the attack came after the registration of APC leader in new market Junction polling unit, Obiozara ward in the council area.
Nweze noted that the attack was perpetrated by thugs loyal to
the PDP under the alleged sponsorship of Mr. Akpa Umahi, Ogbonnaya
Anoke and the former Coordinator of Ohaozara West Development Center, Barrister Roy Umahi, brother to the deputy governor, Dave Umahi.
Those allegedly involved in the act were Leonard Akpa and Mr. Eze Okoro. According to the party’s interim scribe, “After our National Leader, Dr Ogbonnia Onu, registered in the area, the thugs attacked our
officials, Leonard Akpa and Mr Eze Okoro and carted away the
materials.
 
One of the victims of the attack, Mr Mathew Chukwu, was reported to
have escaped by the whiskers, while trying to retrieve the registration
materials from the thugs, as he received the beaten of his life. The party told journalists that it would not retaliate but had forwarded all its petitions to the police with the hope that it would receive thorough investigation and prosecution of the culprits.
“We have confidence in the ability of the police to retrieve the
materials and halt the wanton attacks on the party’s officials as we
need to submit these materials to our national headquarters,” the party
said.
 
In the troubled Ishielu Local government, members of the APC were
equally attacked. Mayhem was unleashed on some members of the party in Azuinyaba in Ezzaegu community in Ishielu council area of the state by gunmen suspected to be working for a political party in the state.
THISDAY gathered that a group of young men armed with different
weapons including guns invaded the community where they allegedly
attacked a chieftain of APC, Chief Michael Nwanga and other members of the party in the houses. The victim, Nwanga, escaped being burnt alive, according to sources but his leg was broken and their houses set ablaze before the culprits left the community.
The victim however accused Coordinator of Inyaba North Development Centre, Chief Livinus Nwamba, of masterminding the attack. Before the incident, Nwanga disclosed that he had had an open confrontation with the coordinator over the presence of the party in the community.
Thus, when contacted, Nwamba denied involvement in the attack,
saying: “I am not fighting anybody, I’m not the type. I am a man of God
and can’t soil my hand. I did not send anybody to kill anybody for me;
I am not fighting with anybody.”
While narrating his ordeal in the hands of the gunmen, Nwanga said
they stormed his house, ordered him to surrender before they
descended on him.
He said the assailants dragged him out from his compound to the middle of the road where they allegedly hung a tyre on him with an intention to burn him alive before the intervention of a team of policemen from the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations came to his rescue.
Nwanga gave the names of some of his suspected attackers as Uche Ekech, Ikechukwu Okpor, Uhuru and the immediate past Coordinator of Inyaba North Development Centre, Mr. John Okpor.
The spate of attack in the state is also a thing of worry to the law enforcement agents, especially that election campaigns have not
started. Though the police image maker, Anyanwu stressed that possible political tussle between APC and PDP should not be ruled out, he warned all political parties in the state to carry out their activities diligently without molestation and harassment of any individual
“The Command would not hesitate to arrest and prosecute any individual
trying to cause political crisis in the State. People should be allowed to express their interest without harassment and intimidation,” the PPRO said.
Also, the member representing Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency
in the State, Hon Peter Edeh  (APC) urged the State Commissioner of
Police, Mr. Maigari Dikko, to work towards achieving political tolerance, accommodation and co-existence in the state, adding that only then can a free, fair and credible election would be achieved in the State.
On his part, Onu also condemned the attacks on APC members and supporters across the country, saying it was tactics of the PDP to intimidate members from spreading the wind of change. But he expressed optimism that the party would take over power from the PDP in 2015.
Onu, the first governor of Abia State, maintained that no amount of intimidation and attack on members of the party would deter it from giving Nigerians the change they want.
“We are very optimistic that we will take over power in 2015. The strength of APC is not just the 16 states that we are controlling; that is not only the strength of APC. The strength of APC is that Nigerians want change; things have not been going the way they should be and that is disturbing to many Nigerians and they are looking for an alternative and alternative is available.
“I want to say that this APC is the only party that has people that have demonstrated that they can put the interest of the nation first. We have thousands officials in the defunct ACN, ANPP and CPC; now from the ward level up to the national who gave up their positions so that we can have APC.”
The APC leader further  hinted that the several attacks on APC member
was because of the fear by the PDP that the party would defeat them in the forthcoming general election.
He therefore called on all Nigerians to support the agenda of the APC stressing that the party remained an alternative to PDP both in governance and conduct of credible elections in the country. He said Nigerians would be happy, peaceful and respected in the world, if it is given the opportunity to give them people-oriented leadership.
“We are very disturbed and it shouldn’t be that way. Nigeria
belongs to all of us. Nigeria does not belong to those in one
political party or the other. If APC is registering its members,
nobody should attack them and that is not right. I believe that this
problem will not be there in future. If APC had not been a great
party, the ruling party could not have been tripping that it could remove
them from power.
“We want to use this opportunity to appeal to all Nigerians to give
APC a chance; Nigerians want change and this change will come from the APC. We are promising Nigerians that once we are in power, we are going to ensure that there would be difference from what it is today and
Nigerians will be happy. Nigeria will be peaceful and respected all
over the world the way it should be.”
As the electioneering approaches, observers have argued that no political ambition is worth spilling the blood of the people. This is why people are calling for total respect for rule of law in the pursuit of political ambitions.

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