Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Ebonyi State again failed to hold its three-man delegate congress on Wednesday.
This is the third time the congress will fail to hold.
The congress was initially slated to hold on Saturday May 30, but it was shifted due to the leadership issues surrounding the sack of the former state Chairman, Tochukwu Okorie.
The court had sacked Mr Okorie and ordered that Silas Onu be installed as the Chairman.
Mr. Ọnụ could not immediately take over the leadership of the party as the National Working Committee of the party needed to ratify the decision.
Mr. Silas later took over the leadership of the party secretariat on Monday ahead of the delegate congresses.
On Tuesday, the shootings at the party secretariat by gunmen marred the exercise.
The exercise also did not hold on the said date following the late arrival of the party’s ad-hoc committee from Abuja and as a result, the exercise was shifted to Wednesday.
On Wednesday, disagreement among the committee members and squabbles among major stakeholders in the state scuttled the exercise.
Chairman of the ad-hoc Committee set up by the national leadership of the party to conduct the congress, Prof. Wilson Emmanuel Akachi, and the State Chairman of the Party, Silas Onu, engaged in war of words over the botched congress.
While Akachi accused Onu of holding him hostage and forcing him to release result sheets for eight local government areas to unknown persons, Onu accused Akachi of plotting to thwart the exercise in connivance with some stakeholders in the state.
Briefing Reporters at the Party Secretariat late in the afternoon on Wednesday, Mr. Akachi said he didn’t know those who he gave the eight letters and result sheets for the election to.
He said: “I have come to address the Press and indeed the party members on the situation on ground as a man of integrity. I arrived Abakaliki capital city with 13 letters meant for the party leaders.
“The State Party Chairman, Barr. Silas Onu, took me to a hotel inside the town and forcefully asked me to handover the letters to him under duress and tension at gun point.
“He collected the letters meant for the party leaders. When calls started coming from Abuja, he was left with no option than to leave me with the remaining 5 letters and as a man of integrity, I thought it wise to address the Press, party leaders and members on ground before traveling back to Abuja.”
But Mr Silas in a rebuttal denied holding Mr. Akachi hostage.
“If he said he was held hostage, how then did he leave the hotel with all the security that went with him to the secretariat. How come he left with the remaining five results sheets?”, he queried.
Ọnụ accused the Ad-hoc Committee Chairman of working for the interest of a few aspirants.
“Since he came into the state, he has been trying to get the election postponed. He never wanted to conduct the election. He was trying to convince other members of his committee to postpone the election,” Ọnụ said.
He urged the National Leadership of the party to change the Chairman and possibly replace the entire Committee.
He explained that the people who were given the results were returning officers who were sent by the national leadership to conduct the elections.
“They were properly identified before they were given the results. The remaining five results which the Chairman of the Committee still has were not given out because those officials for the five remaining councils were yet to arrive the state.”
Ọnụ explained that the congress could not hold because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not send election monitors to monitor the election.
Meanwhile, in another statement, Mr. Onu accused Senator Obinna Ọgba, who represents Ebonyi South Constituency, of causing the fracas that led to the shooting.
He explained that it was security agents who shot into the air to disperse thugs brought by the Senator to foment trouble at the Secretariat.
The Ebonyi PDP Chairman further alleged that Ogba also brought thugs to attack the zonal Vice Chairman of the party.
He said: “Today, as our hardworking State Party officials are busy coordinating the takeoff of our 3-Man Ward Ad-Hoc Delegates election, our Zonal Vice Chairman North – Barr. James Onah, was attacked by thugs sent by Sen. Obinna Ogba.
“They attacked him while on duty, but for the quick intervention of our gallant Police security personnel, it would have been worse,” Ọnụ said.
The Chairman alleged that the mission of the attackers was to retrieve the Sienna van donated to the party by Sen. Obinna Ogba.
He said there is no need to violently retrieve a gift, as the Senator is free to request for the return of his donated vehicles and the party will oblige him immediately.
Continuing he said: “Yesterday, the same Senator brought thugs to the State Secretariat of the party and thereafter sponsored a negative news report against the party.
“This is desperation for power taken too far and we as a party will deal decisively with this crime by ensuring that the necessary law enforcement agencies carry out their duty effectively.”
But Senator Ọgba in a statement denied the allegations.
A statement by his Media Aide, Godfrey Chikwere, noted that “historically, it is in public knowledge that there is no political violence traceable to the person of Senator Obinna Ogba since his successful growth in Ebonyi and national political space.”
He alleged that Mr. Silas Onu is trying to cover his guilt as a result of his threat to life of the ad hoc committee Chairman, Prof Okachi.
“One will be wondering why a legal practitioner will be engaging in abduction and threat to life of a reputable Professor and at the same time trying to use the name of Senator Obinna Ogba a man who has given all to service and up-keep of PDP in Ebonyi state to divert attention.
“We encourage the general public to see his allegation as pedestrian, infantile and possibly induced by pressure to protect his name and legal profession that he is gradually dragging to the gutters.”
“Don’t forget that Mr. Silas Onu is in cordial, compassionate and gross love with press releases and can hardly do without one on daily or weekly basis. So expect more from him.”
Chikwere while noting that Ogba is focused and won’t be distracted, advised Ọnụ to, as a youth hoping to grow in Nigeria political space, see himself as a role model to other youths in Nigerian political environment and take one step at a time.
Meanwhile, due to President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Ebonyi today, the state Government has banned all forms of political gatherings in the state.
Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Uchenna Orji stated this in a statement.
Mr. Orji also said the state government had directed that no form of canon blasting should be used at any ceremony anywhere in the state for the two days of the visit.
He also warned companies in the state not to use any form of explosives during the period of the president’s visit to the state.
Mr. Orji explained that the decision to ban political gathering was due to the embarrassing shootings and violence which characterised the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) 3-man delegates congress in the state.
Orji, however, said that any political party or group that wants to hold any activity must first obtain permission from the commissioner of police before doing so.
The statement read: “I have been directed to inform all Town Union Leaders and Traditional Rulers that no cannon blasting ceremonies or blasting of explosives from companies is allowed any where in Ebonyi State within the period of the 2- day working visit of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to Ebonyi State, holding on 5th and 6th May 2022.
“Security Agencies have been detailed to ensure compliance to this directive.
“It is further directed that in view of the embarrassing shootings and security breaches that characterized the meeting of PDP Ebonyi State Chapter held recently at their Party Secretariat, Abakaliki, no assemblies and or processions of any political party shall be allowed to hold anywhere in Ebonyi State within the period of the presidential visit without permission first sought and obtained from the State Police Command.
“It is hereby further directed that Security Agencies in all local communities should mount surveillance and track all unlawful conducts especially within this period of the Presidential visit.”
“Council Chairmen have been notified to ensure compliance to this directive.”