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  • Ebonyi ALGON: Security outfit created for the purpose of assisting security agencies as APC, PDP collides. May 30, 2021

    Obiora Orji

    It appears that the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party are both on a collision course in Ebonyi State over the alleged abduction of a lawyer and former Coordinator of the Amuagata Development Centre in Ohaozara Local Government Area of the state, Amos Ogbonnaya. Ogbonnaya was alleged to have been kidnapped after attending a meeting at a popular eatery in Abakaliki, capital of the state. His disappearance has been the subject of accusations and counter accusations by the state chapters of the two major political parties. The Peoples Democratic Party, to which Ogbonaya belongs, accused the Ebonyi State Government of masterminding his abduction. The PDP Publicity Secretary, Silas Onu, called for the redeployment of the Commissioner of Police, Garba Aliyu, accusing him of colluding with the government to intimidate members of the opposition in the state. Onu, who spoke to journalists in Enugu, alleged that the state government was using the recently formed Ebubeagu security outfit to intimidate and oppress the critics of its policies and projects. He insisted that Amos Ogbonnaya’s ordeal was just one out of many of such attempts to muzzle and kill opposition voices in the state. But, speaking to journalists at the weekend in Enugu, where he is currently recovering from injuries inflicted on him by his abductors, Ogbonnaya said his kidnap took place a few days after he appeared on national television, criticising the programmes of the Ebonyi State Government and demanding to be paid his statutory allowances owed him since his removal from office in 2020. Ogbonnaya, who alleged that his removal was due to his refusal to attack #EndSars protesters in the state, said he appeared on television alongside a representative of the G-64 group of ex-coordinators, who also demanded payment of their statutory allowances. He identified his abductors as Chris Eze, (aka Power), Damian Okafor, Phinidy Osim (aka Pump Action), Chinonso Obasi (aka Consider) and Peter Akpa. Ogbonnaya also claimed that these men came to the scene of the kidnap in a Toyota Hilux vehicle, which he identified as the official vehicle of a senior special assistant to Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State. He disclosed that the kidnappers whisked him to the residence of a prominent government official (name withheld) before taking him to the bush where they met another set of people who had already dug a shallow grave. At that point, he was forced to plead with one of the abductors, who happened to be his townsman, to spare his life. The abductors, who were severally interrupted by phone calls, changed their minds. Instead of killing him, they beat him severely. In the process, they broke his legs with the butt of their guns before dumping him in the middle of a major road, possibly to be run over and crushed by oncoming articulated vehicles between 1.am and 2.am. Ogbonnaya said that at the sound of an oncoming truck that sped toward his position, he had to muster all the strength left in his body to escape death by rolling off the road. He was eventually rescued by a bus driver and some villagers who rushed him to a hospital nearby for first aid treatment. Later his relations announced that they were taking him to Abakaliki, but ended up sneaking him to Enugu for safety. Not long afterwards, he added, his abductors raided the village hospital, apparently to finish him off. They shot into the air many times and demanded to have him, but they were informed by the hospital staff that he had been moved to Abakaliki. Ogbonnaya continued, “If God had not sent that bus driver in the morning to move me out of that place, they would have returned to kill me.” However, the Ebonyi State Government, through the Commissioner for Information, Orji Uchenna Orji, has disassociated itself from the alleged abduction of Ogbonnaya. Orji, in a statement, described the PDP’s indictment of the government in the incident as a ruse aimed at covering the party’s ugly past. The statement read, “The general public should therefore note that the alleged kidnap of one Amos Ogbonnaya is part of a grand design by his syndicate of political howlers to cause tension in the state and incite public hatred on a government they hold in very high esteem. “We therefore dissociate and distance ourselves as government from the thoughts and claims of these PDP officials, who for pecuniary and political reasons have covenanted with the opposition forces to unleash falsehood on the state government.” Reacting to this, Onu said, “If you speak up in Ebonyi, you become an endangered species. When the kidnap occurred, one imbecile, in an incoherent statement, claimed that the PDP carried out the act. But, thank God, Amos Ogbonnaya has spoken. He knows the people that kidnapped him and he has named them.” Governor Umahi, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Francis Nwaze, condemned the kidnap and ordered a full-scale investigation into the incident. The PDP in Ebonyi also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali, to investigate the circumstances leading to Ogbonnaya’s abduction. “We are calling on the IGP, even as our leaders take the necessary steps in that direction, to personally open an investigation into this criminal offence. Immunity does not last forever.” Meanwhile, piqued by verbal attacks on Umahi, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Ebonyi State chapter, condemned the recent outbursts of some lawmakers of Ebonyi origin at the National Assembly. The body also dismissed the lawmakers’ claim that the Ebonyi State branch of Ebubeagu was being targeted at them. In a statement signed by the State ALGON Chairman, Princess Nkechinyere Iyioku, and made available to journalists in Abakaliki, noted that the security outfit was established for the purpose of assisting security agencies to tackle security challenges in the state. Iyioku, who is the Chairman of Ohaozara Local Government Area, urged the members of the Ebonyi State caucus at the National Assembly to join hands with Umahi to forestall and arrest the activities of hoodlums in the state, instead of impugning his integrity for the purpose of self promotion at the detriment of the masses. She said, “It is obvious from the serial vituperation against Governor Umahi, who is doing his best to positively transform the state for the benefit of all, they have chosen to close their eyes to the good works and intentions of the present administration in the state. For reasons best known to them, they are already made and not interested in the welfare of Ebonyi people”. “Otherwise, it will be completely senseless, irrational and out of place for these National Assembly members to politicise the security situation in the state and plan to plunge the state into crisis”. She noted that Governor Umahi had remained committed to his oath to protect lives and properties, adding that in their pursuit to retain power, ahead of the 2023 general election, the lawmakers had continued to sow seeds of discord in the state to make it ungovernable. “I know very well that it is in the pursuit of their nefarious plot that they haves continued to sow seeds of discord and fan embers of war in order to make the state ungovernable. Thankfully, the vast majority of the Ebonyi people, who are patriotic and right thinking, cannot be fooled by their antics.”