As mixed reactions continues to trial the shooting, at close range, of an Agbor based Hotelier, Mr. Sunny Okonye, over the burning of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s 2015 governorship campaign billboard at Agbor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has raised the alarm over what he called a “gang up” against him, by some politicians in the area.
Senator Okowa, who raised the alarm during a press conference in Asaba, while reacting to the shooting, said the linking of his name to the sponsorship of a “killer squad,” was nothing but the handiwork of his political opponents in the area. He said his opponents are afraid of “My rising political profile, I am been framed-up just giving a dog a bad name to hang it.”
According to Senator Okowa, he further explained, “I have heard, and read a series of stories connecting my name with a killer squad. It is a pity that people can go to that extent to malign their perceived opponents. I joined politics long ago, and served as Secretary, (in the) Ika Local Government Council, Pioneer Chairman, Ika North East Local Government Area, (and also) held different party positions, served as commissioner in various ministries, and Secretary to the State Government under the Uduaghan administration.
“In all these years I have played politics with the fear of God, believing that it is God that gives power to whoever he wishes. It is unfortunate that those who are known to play politics of violence, sponsor cult groups, and have killer squads, are the same persons sponsoring people to malign my name,” he said when answering a question as to why he has been targeted.
“To keep the records straight, I have not sponsored any billboard on my governorship ambition, so I do not see why I should fight over billboards that I do not know their locations. The allegation levelled against me is malicious, untrue, and sponsored by those who see me as thorns in their flesh in the politics of the state out of envy.”
Senator Okowa called on Nigerians, and Deltans in particular, to go back to memory lane and see those whose lives were given to violence and criminal activities.
Shortly after the briefing, a press statement was signed by Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, titled, “I Do Not Believe In Violence.” It was issued and made available to Journalists.
According to the release, “Allegations that my Personal Assistant, Hilary Ibegbulem, led the group in an attempted murder of one Mr. Sunny Okonye, is baseless and most unfortunate. I travelled to Lagos with Hilary on Friday 16th May, 2014 with the 5.00pm Arik Flight, and left Lagos with him on Monday 19th May, 2014, to Abuja, with the 3 pm Arik flight. Hilary checked into Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Lagos on the said Friday through to Monday, 19th May, 2014, and the records of the hotel are available for check.”
Continuing, the Okowa statement further said that, “I wish to state that these antics by my detractors are not new, as it has always been in their plans to pull me down by all means, but God has always seen me through, and will continue to protect me against these envious politicians who are enemies of progress. What is going on is a written, and rehearsed script of these detractors to soil my name, because of my gubernatorial ambition. It is interesting that the said Mr. Sunday Okonye has made a statement denying the involvement of Ibegbulem Hilary, confirming, he was initially being used to play a written script.”
Meanwhile, in a reaction to the incident, the state Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, on Wednesday at a press conference in Asaba, condemned in strong terms, the shooting and therefore (had) warned politicians to allow peace to reign and shun overheating the politics for personal reasons.
Uduaghan, who disclosed that he was aware that some politicians were already piling arms in the state in preparation for the 2015 general elections, warned them against the criminal act, and vowed that his administration will do everything to frustrate such actions anywhere in the state.