Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ebonyi State on Sunday accused the State Government of using the Ebubeagu Security Outfit to abduct its members in the State.
The party’s Governorship campaign council stated this in a statement issued by the Spokesperson, Charles Otu.
It condemned in strong terms what it described as renewed attacks on its supporters in Afikpo North.
The party said intelligence available to it shows that the State Government is planning to abduct its Senatorial Candidate for Ebonyi South, Ifeanyi Eleje, who is an opponent of Governor David Umahi for the senate seat.
“Our attention has been drawn to some fresh plots to destabilise the campaign of the Party’s senatorial candidate in Ebonyi South, Sir Ifeanyi Eleje, by the agents of the Umahi-led APC government masquerading as Ebubeagu officials in the council area.”
“Our findings showed that the State Government had concluded plans to abduct, torture and remand APGA supporters in Police custody and throw some others into the correctional facilities.”
“Some other influential stakeholders and supporters of the Party we also learnt have already been penciled down for maiming which will land them in the hospitals till after the election,” began the statement.
Mr Otu further stated that to make good their threats and plots the Ebubeagu Security operatives working under the Chairman of the Local Government Area, Mr. Uchenna Ibiam, were detailed to abduct, torture and ransack the residences of Mr Eleje’s supporters.
“They will then be coerced into making confessions that they were sent by the Party’s leaders to destroy and deface APC campaign billboards in the area.”
Mr Otu alleged that Ebubeagu operatives on the instruction of the leadership of the council area invaded the residence of an APGA supporter, one Amobi Ujah, where he was abducted while his friend and another APGA supporter, one Chijioke, was lucky to escape.
“The victim was consequently taken to the council area where he was severely tortured, forced to confess in a video and name the Director General of the Ifeanyi Eleje Campaign council, Mr. Iheukwumere Okogwu-Out among others, as sponsors behind the destruction of APC billboards in the area.
“After the Council Chairman, Ibiam, personally recorded him (as he could be heard at the background of the video) having serious injuries inflicted on him by the Ebubeagu boys, they later handed him over to the State’s Police Command.
“Consequently, the Ebubeagu officials invaded the residence of the said Mr. Okogwu-Otu at Ukpa village in Afikpo North in the early hours of Saturday stealing a motorcycle and other valuable property in the compound, claiming to be hunting for him.
“Already, we were informed that there’s heavy tension in his Ukpa village over the invasion of his residence and the gunshots that were heard in area,” the statement added.
Mr Charles Otu further alleged that the said Ujah was coerced to mention the name of the Party’s Senatorial candidate, Ifeanyi Eleje among others, as being behind the allegations of billboards destruction all in their desperate bid to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
He alleged further that Ebubeagu has been ordered to arrest, humiliate, torture, maim and terrorise members and prominent supporters of APGA including Mr Eleje.
The party while calling for the unconditional release of Mr Ujah warned that nothing should happen to its members especially Mr Eleje and Okogwu-Otu.
Mr Okogwu- Otu confirmed to our Reporter that Ebubeagu operatives invaded his house in the Afikpo North council and carted away valuable items.
This was as he alleged that his life and those of his family members were under threat.
He said: “As we speak now, I am not in my house, for fear of being attacked or possibly killed.”
“I don’t know why they went to my house. I went out early this morning for an exercise and all of a sudden, my mother called me and announced that Ebubeagu people were in my house.
“As some of them were talking to my mother outside, some of them had broken into the apartment through the ground floor.
“They took one bike from my house, took some important or valuable items. They also fired and punctured the tyres of the APGA campaign Sienna bus parked in my compound.”
“This is getting out of hand. My life and those of my family are no longer safe. I call on the security agencies to swing into action and to find out what the Ebebeagu people are up to,” he lamented.
Suspect arrested for vandalism – Ebubeagu commander
Reacting, the Ebubeagu Commander, in Ebonyi State, Mr Friday Nnana-Ujor said that Mr Ujah was not framed-up, but was arrested while destroying banners belonging to APC candidates in the area.
He said: “Don’t call it attack, because attack is war-like. But the truth of the matter was that the suspect, who is an APGA supporter in Afikpo North was caught tearing billboards of APC candidates and so, my men arrested him.
“Nobody is framing anybody up as far as the issue of campaign billboards are concerned, in Ebonyi State. People will destroy campaign materials in the state and tag it that APC members are responsible.
“Even in meetings, Governor Umahi has severally said that nobody should touch any campaign materials of any candidate despite party affiliations; and so we strictly keep to that instruction.
“And even in this state, we have severally caught PDP members tearing billboards of PDP candidates. This is just to let you know that we are non-partisan and that we do our job without being biased. So, the boy was arrested committing a crime. He was not framed-up. He was not forced to confess. He was not attacked,” he said.
Afikpo North chairman reacts
Chairman of Afikpo North, Uche Ibiam, denied the allegations.
He said Mr Ujah was arrested while destroying billboards in the area.
According to him, he was in company of about four others destroying the billboards when he was arrested while the others managed to escape.
He further stated that Mr Ujah made confessional statements that Okogwu-Otu was one of those who sent them.
He said Mr Okogwu-Otu had earlier called him to inform him that Mr Ujah was arrested and that he did not send him or anybody to destroy billboards.
The Chairman said he called Mr Okogwu-Otu to come to his office so that they could resolve the issue but he refused.
He said after he failed to show up after promising to do so repeatedly he had no choice than to hand Mr Ujah to the Police who have taken over the investigation.
“He made confessional statement. The matter is no longer in my hands so no one should accuse us of planning anything against them. It is now purely a Police affair.
“The police will investigate and if anyone is indicted, the Police will following the due process to arrest and prosecute whoever in found culpable. If you are innocent, you should not be afraid to go and answer Police summons,” he said.