Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
A Police officer, Inspector Ibrahim Kudu, attached to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Bernard Odoh has died.
He has been on admission in the in intensive care unit at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki since Thursday night.
He was rushed to the hospital after he sustained gunshot injuries when Mr Odoh and his campaign team were attacked near Okpoto in Ishielu Local Government Area of the state.
In the attack, a driver to Mr Odoh was shot dead while Kudu and another Police officer sustained gunshot injuries.
But Mr Kudu died on Monday in the hospital.
His death was announced by the Spokesperson of the Odohzhia Ebonyi Campaign council, Charles Otu.
Odohzhia Ebonyi is the Governorship Campaign council of APGA for the March 11 Governorship election.
Mr Otu said Kudu, a Police Inspector was shot on the chest during the attack on the APGA Governorship candidate in Ebonyi, Professor Odoh, Thursday night.
“He died earlier today at the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, AE-FUTHA, from injuries he sustained during the gun duel with assassins who attacked the convoy of our gubernatorial candidate while on his way back from a campaign rally in Ezzaegu, Ishielu Local Government Area of the State.”
“Kudu, a native of Niger State and a devout Muslim, was posted to Professor Odoh from the Special Protection Unit, SPU, Base 4 Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“His body will be laid to rest today according to Muslim rites in his home State,” he said.
Ebuebagu killed our supporter-APGA
Meanwhile, Mr Otu in the statement alleged that Ebubeagu operatives also shot and killed one Elom Oscar Chinonso on Monday.
“Meantime, operatives of Ebubeagu Security Network in Ohaukwu LGA has shot and killed one Elom Oscar Chinonso, a native of Ndiagu Orie, Umuogudu Akpu Ngbo community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the State,” Mr Otu said.
According to him, the young business man was reportedly killed in his shop.
“A member and an ardent supporter of APGA from the area who spoke about the ugly incident said the victim was shot by armed Ebubeagu operatives who rode on a branded APC Sienna vehicle”
“Again, our hearts are severely grieved that the Ebonyi State APC Government under the leadership of Engr. David Umahi has continued on its mute mode while watching rampaging Ebubeagu militia kill innocent citizens of our dear State all for power grabbing,” Mr Otu further stated.
He called on the Police authorities to now expedite action in arresting those who attacked their Governorship candidate’s convoy for speedy justice.
Mr Otu reiterated the party’s calls on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to bring his words to effect that all deadly quasi security outfits like Ebubeagu will not feature or partake in the activities leading to and during and after the general election.
“For us, this is one attack, too many. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in the bosom of the Lord!,” he added.
Group petitions IGP, DSS over attacks, killings
Meanwhile, a group known as Volunteer, NGOs and support Groups of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Governorship Campaign Council, Ebonyi State, have petitioned the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba, and the Director General of the Department of Security Services, (DSS) over the attacks and killings.
They urged the security agencies to call the Ebonyi State Government to order over the incessant attacks on All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) supporters and other opposition political parties in the State.
The leader of the group, Darlington Peter Onwe, accused the Governor David Umahi-led administration of using violent attacks and all forms of manipulative political and security gimmicks to frustrate the political campaigns of the opposition political parties.
He added that “this is highly worrisome as it’s nothing but an invitation to anarchy, blood-bath and breakdown of law and order, if nothing is done urgently.”
Onwe further alleged that the attack on the convoy of Prof Odoh, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), in the state was carried out by members of the Ebubeagu Security outfit in the State.
“Against this backdrop, it is no doubt that the Ebonyi State Government under the supervision of Engr David Umahi, the outgoing Governor and his godson-stooge who he is imposed on the state as his successor are recklessly using several guises, including state forces to resist, frustrate and disrupt political campaigns of opposition parties, including but not limited to using violent attacks and all forms of manipulative political and security gimmicks.
“On the 2nd Day of February, 2023, the convoy of Prof. Ifeanyichukwu Odoh, one of the gubernatorial candidates of an opposition party in the state was attacked by heavily armed gunmen suspected to be members of Ebubeagu, an armed militia force established by the Government of Ebonyi State for hounding and vilifying members of opposition parties or interest groups.
“In the course of this attack, the driver to Prof. Odoh was shot dead instantly, his Prado jeep and security vehicle burnt to ashes, while several others were left with varying degrees of bullet wounds. This is highly condemnable, atavistic and the height of cruelty of any government or leader.
“Therefore, the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Department of State Security Service and other security agencies should take note and call the Ebonyi State Government and their militia forces under Mr. Umahi, the outgoing Governor of Ebonyi State to order before it’s too late.
“This is because if this unnecessary provocation continues, our volunteers and supporters will be left with no option than to meet every action with equal and opposite reaction; this is because responsibility is laid on every living thing to survive, and this survival also entails self protection against harm.”
PDP accuses Ebubeagu, Ebonyi govt of attacks on opposition
Also, Abia Onyike, Director, Media & Publicity, PDP Governorship Campaign Council, alleged that the political situation in Ebonyi State has degenerated from bad to worse as Gov. David Umahi has refused to listen to the voice of reason.
Mr Onyike in a statement alleged that Ebubeagu has continued to attack prominent citizens of the state who are members of opposition political parties.
He said: “We hereby unequivocally condemn in very strong terms the latest attack on Sen. Sam Ominyi Egwu (Senator representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District), who went for a PDP rally yesterday to address his constituents in the private residence of Senator Nguji Ngele in Amagu, Abakaliki Local Government Area.
“The road to Sen. Ngele’s house was suddenly blocked by Ebubeagu Security, Gov. Umahi’s militia group, which he uses to do dirty political jobs in the state. Later in the night, the Ebubeagu chaps returned to Sen. Ngele’s house and started shooting sporadically with their AK-47 and pump actions assault riffles.
“We also regret to recall that on Wednesday, 1st February, 2023, Dr. Sam Egwu successfully held a rally at Obegu Abba in Ebonyi LGA. At the end of the rally, Sen. Egwu left the venue only for gunmen to invade the home of the PDP Chairman in the Council area, Mr. Michael Nwebonyi.
“They started shooting intensively for more than twenty minutes. Properties were vandalised and several people were wounded as they scampered for safety while others ran into the bush.
“Two days ago, the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof Odoh was ambushed at Okpoto by Umahi’s militia where his convoy was subjected to a volley of bullets. Prof. Odoh luckily escaped unhurt. But his driver was instantly murdered, his backup vehicles were set ablaze.
Mr Onyike said the spate of politically-motivated killings in Ebonyi has become unbelievable.
“In order to stop the Governorship ambition of a son of the soil, the desperadoes are believed to be behind the spate of killings and disappearances in Isu, Onicha LGA where over 6 persons including the body guard of the Governorship candidate were killed, in order to stop the Governorship aspiration. What a horrible scenario,” he alleged.
Ebonyi Govt denies involvement
Reacting, the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Ebonyi State, Uchenna Orji, denied the involvement of Ebubeagu security outfit in the attacks on opposition candidates and supporters.
Mr Orji stated this at a a joint press conference with the State APC Chairman/State Security Consultant, Stanley Okoro Emegha.
The duo described the allegations against the State Government over the attack on Odoh as false and malicious.
They added that APGA was “an assemblage of the most fraudulent traitors and political jobbers in the State.”
Police exonerates Ebubeagu
Police spokesperson, Chris Anyanwu, absolved Ebubeagu of complicity in the said attacks on Odoh, Egwu and others.
In a statement, Mr Anyanwu said the Police is miffed at the accusation against Ebubeagu which he said is being spread with the sole aim of creating divisions and overheating the already charged polity in the State.
“Otherwise, how can one describe the fallacious and misleading news and stories making the rounds on audio-visual and social media about the incident that took place as Senator Sam Egwu went to Ebonyi L.G.A for political campaign?
“The Media left the substance and preferred to chase the shadow by lying that the youth of the area who allegedly blocked the Senator’s convoy, were Ebubeagu security operatives.”
“Let it be clearly understood that all the politicians in the State have assemblage of security retinue from the Police and other security organisations attached to them.
“Apart from that, they are all accorded the same security provisions and attention whenever it becomes expedient.
“In the instant situation, the Commissioner of Police, Ebonyi State Police Command, CP Aliyu Garba dispatched the Tactical Teams in addition to other patrol teams from various Divisions within the locality, to the scene at Abakaliki L.G.A as soon as the information about the blockade by youth of the area filtered into his ears.
“The Senator and his entourage can attest to this. The Police operatives on arrival at the scene acted most professionally,” he said.
Mr Anyanwu noted that the arrival of the police teams saved a showdown that was imminent.
He said rather than commending that effort, the PDP and Media were busy casting aspersions at the Commissioner of Police whose tenure and track records in the State ranks among the best the State has ever witnessed.
“A similar situation played out recently when a yet-to-be-identified gunmen ambushed and attacked the convoy of Professor Bernard Odoh at Okpoto in Ishielu LGA.
“The Media quickly concluded that it was Ebubeagu operatives that was responsible without any investigation or confirmation from the Police Command.
“Even the Press Release subsequently issued by the Police Command became a subject of caricature because it countered the fallacies already thrown to the public by some junk journalists,” he said.
Ebuebagu denies involvement
Commander of Ebubeagu, Nnanna Ujor, debunked allegations of Ebubeagu involvement in the killing of Mr Elom Chinonso.
He said the opposition is fond of attributing every attack on them to Ebubeagu without any proof.
He said the attack on Professor Odoh from evidence gathered so far was carried out by unknown gunmen.
According to him, the attackers have already circulated a video of the attack on Mr Odoh which has exonerated Ebubeagu.
He said in the video, the attackers erroneously claimed that Ebuebagu members were in the convoy and were among the victims.
He urged political parties not to be hasty in their conclusion whenever an attack occurs.
Ebubeagu is a security outfit approved by Governors of the South-East to complement efforts of Police and other security agencies in crime fighting in the region. Only Ebonyi State and Imo State, coincidentally APC states, have formed the outfit.
However, it has been accused of rights abuses such as indiscriminate arrests, violent attacks on opposition party supporters, maiming and even killings.