2023: APGA raises fresh alarm over destruction of campaign billboards
By Charles Onyekwere, ABAKALIKI
- says Ebonyi govt using Ebubeagu against opposition
The All progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ebonyi state has raised another fresh alarm over destruction of campaign Billboards across the state.
This came barely two weeks after the governorship candidate of the party in the 2023 election, Prof Benard Odoh and the Deputy governorship candidate, Dr Nkata Nwani Chuku, allegedly alerted the public on the same issue, accusing the Ebonyi state government by using the Ebubeagu security outfit against the opposition.
APGA alleged that the latest round of destruction of the party’s billboards, occurred at Okposi and Ugwulangwu communities in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State where the Deputy governorship candidate hails from.
The Party also alleged that the attack took place at about 7:30pm Monday, September 5th, 2022, on APGA billboards located in the two aforementioned communities of Ebonyi State.
In a statement signed by Mr Charles Otu, the Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Prof Odoh, a copy of which was made available to the The Trumpet, condemned the attacks.
According to the statement, the Ebubeagu militia has posed as a threat not only to members of the party but the generality of the peaceful and harmonious existence of the State.
It reads, “Our Party loyalist who sufficiently briefed the APGA candidate’s team as an eyewitness, Hon. Collins Agwu, narrated that a team of young men numbering seven had stormed the Okposi Court Area where he and his fellow APGA supporters had wanted to mount a billboard of the APGA Governorship candidate and his Deputy who incidentally hails from the community at the popular Court area.
“The seven of them all dressed in Ebubeagu attire insisted that they cannot be allowed to mount billboards in the Court Area because according to them, even though very strangely, the area is owned by the government.
“As peaceful and peace-loving citizens, the APGA leader and his boys had moved to another point within the Okposi Round About to mount the billboard and were again confronted by the armed Ebubeagu members instituted by the state government.
“Their leader, one Dickson Okire (a.k.a. Daggazy) and another identified as Sambo had again reportedly approached them and demanded if they had paid the relevant signage fees to the Local Government Council authorities to which he had promptly replied that there were not aware that political Parties now pay for their own billboard spaces at the Local Government.
“Agwu had however promised to go to the council to enquire and possibly do the needful as a law abiding citizen when suddenly the boys, all armed with pump action riffles started shooting sporadically, insisting that everything and everybody must go down.
“Their ring leader, the said Dickson who started the shooting into the air said they were given orders from above to come and burn down the billboards and that there would be no peace until their evil mission was well accomplished as they directed.
“APGA followers who did not want to confront the lawless men reportedly scampered for safety at that point, some sustaining varying degrees of injuries while the armed Ebubeagu officials who came in three Sienna vehicles confiscated and tore the flex banners and fled the scene while still shooting sporadically into the air.
“Other items which they also made away with include; a full bag of cement, a digger, a pick axe and a cutlass/matchete including two bags of graded stones and one bag of sea sharp sand.
“The leader of the said gang had further warned Agwu that they were heading to Ugwulangwu to carry out a similar instruction of destroying a billboard the APGA team had just mounted in the area.
“Minutes later, reports came from APGA supporters in Ugwulangwu that they were attacked while attempting to resist the armed Ebubeagu militia who also first of all successfully riddled the billboards with bullets before forcing it down. Some supporters were also reported to have sustained some minor injuries during the incident just as the Ebubeagu militia vowed that they will yet unleash more mayhem on our Party’s supporters, leaders and followers alike.”
The statement further alleged that the APC-led government appeared to be more prepared for war than engaging in issue-based campaign ahead of the 2023 polls, but warned that there were limit to the extend their excesses could be tolerated.
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It further called on security agencies to rise to their responsibilities by arresting and prosecuting those behind this dastardly act, even as the statement further called on all APGA supporters and members to remain strong, firm and unshaken in their belief in the party and it’s Governorship flag bearer, Odoh, and his deputy, Nwankata.
“We in the Odoh/Nkata Governorship Consultation train once again condemn these heinous attacks on our campaign materials and the continued threats which the Ebubeagu militia has posed to not only our members but to the generality of the peaceful and harmonious existence of our dear State. It is becoming glaring that despite several warnings; the Umahi-led APC government in Ebonyi and its candidates for the 2023 general elections are more prepared for war than discuss the numerous issues plaguing our dear State.
“We once again beckon on the various security agencies to investigate this particular attacks on our campaign billboards just like we await their findings on the ones destroyed penultimate week in the Abakaliki metropolis. We have not yet been informed of any arrests made so far despite our petitions to the various security agencies.
“We call on all our supporters and members to remain strong, firm and unshaken in their belief in the Odoh/Nkata determination to bring a breath of fresh air into our polity by redefining our beloved Ebonyi State for everyone would be proud of. We know that the journey will not be an easy one as it has never been easy to bring a political revolution upon a land. But we remain unfazed and will continue to speak to issues and remain civil and polite in all our engagements before, during and after the 2023 general elections which we are certain that the masses would give us their esteemed support.
“However, we caution the newly-elected Council Chairman and his Ebubeagu boys in Ohaozara to desist from any further attempt to harm any of our campaign materials and or members as that will no longer be tolerated. They do not have monopoly of violence and they cannot continue to remain a terror to our peace-loving supporters and people going into the 2023 general electioneering campaigns.
“It is becoming very glaring that contrary to the initial claims that the Ebubeagu militia was originally formed to wade off Fulani herdsmen’ invasion into Ebonyi and indeed, the South East, Governor Umahi had always prepared it as had been rumoured in several quarters to serve as a vindictive tool against his real or imaginary political opponents.
“If their game plan as we now clearly understand it is to intimidate, attack and scare away Ebonyi people from supporting and making their choices in the 2023 general elections, then, it is already dead on arrival. We have it on good authority that Governor Umahi had during a Thanksgiving service for the newly-sworn in Local Government Chairmen in the State charged them to hold their various council areas by not allowing oppositions in their localities to thrive.
“Such uncanny directive coming from a State’s Chief Security Officer is against the spirits and letters of the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022, and will not be allowed to succeed.
“APGA assures Ebonyians who earnestly desire a change to a more responsible and responsive leadership that would ultimately guarantee the freedom and economic prosperity of the state,” the statement added.
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