The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ebonyi State, has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of planning to unleash mayhem in its campaign slated to hold in Afikpo Local government area, ahead of February 3, 2024, Ebonyi South Senatorial bye-election.
Director General of APGA’s Odohzia Campaign Council, Samuel Agwu Okporie, made the allegation in a statement on Thursday.
He alleged threats by APC stalwarts to the lives of APGA’s senatorial candidate, Ifeanyi Eleje and party faithful if the campaign were to hold in the area.
According to Mr Okporie, Mr Eleje’s performance in last year’s election where he won the local government and garnered 12,000 votes in total is unsettling the ruling Party.
He alleged that on Saturday, 20th January 2024, a politician from the area who is currently occupying an elective position in Ebonyi State suggested to Mr Eleje to opt out of the senatorial race in exchange for political settlement as his candidacy is unsettling nerves within the APC.
He further alleged that later the same day, the Chairman of Afikpo Local Government Area, Mr Uchenna Ibiam, also called one of Mr Eleje’s disciples on the same issue.
“His instruction was clear and that is a warning that APGA should not hold any political rally within the LGA without first and foremost obtaining ‘clearance’ from him.
“The call was dreadfully suggestive that an impending danger awaited the Party if it continues with the INEC directive that candidates of all the eight contesting political parties were at liberty to proceed with their political campaigns for the bye-election,” Mr Okporie further alleged.
They alleged that the ruling party is jittery because of his rising profile, especially since the highest traditional decision-making body in the council, the Essa Ehugbo Ruling Council (Ulo Ubi) has endorsed him.
They therefore called on the state government, security agencies and the general public to take note of the alleged threats.
“We in the Odohzia Campaign Council of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) Ebonyi State chapter wish to alert the electoral umpire, the Ebonyi State Government, security agencies, Essa Ehugbo Ruling Council and indeed, the general public about the imminent threat to the official kick-off of campaigns by our Party’s candidate which is only in compliance to the directive of INEC.
“This is a period for campaigns that will even span for only less than two weeks to the election and APGA as a Party will not kowtow to the antics of any group of desperate politicians who may not be interested in convincing the electorates with reasons to garner their support but using brute force, threats, intimidations and even looming attacks or violence.
“The Nigerian Constitution and all our electoral law have no provision for a candidate to get a ‘clearance’ from a Local Government Chairman or any government official for that matter and neither does it provide for acts of intimidations, attacks or threat to violence of any kind.
“APGA and its candidate would therefore not succumb to any acts of threats, intimidation or violence before and during the bye-election.
“This is even as we charge our supporters to continue to maintain the peaceful and amiable conducts they have exhibited even during the first election and despite all forms of ungodly attacks and intimidations”
“We charge the security agencies to provide him with adequate security and ensure he does not come in harm’s way.
“We equally urge the Ebonyi State government under the leadership of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Francis Nwifuru – a man who has proven in the past few months he has held sway that he prefers and promotes peace”
“The Governor indeed has a duty to prove that point further with this first election that would be conducted under his watch as the Chief Security Officer of the State,” they said.
Reacting, the Council Chairman, Mr Ibiam, denied threatening the lives of anybody.
He, however, noted that there is a ban on the use of public places for rallies without authorisation.
He also, noted that any political party that wants to hold such a rally in any public place must write to the council for permission.
“If they try to hold any rally in any public facility government-owned facility without authorisation, we must stop it,” he vowed.
Stating that parties are free to hold their rallies in private facilities.
The Ebonyi South bye-election comes up in the five local government areas in the zone.
The position became vacant following the resignation of Senator David Umahi due to his appointment as Minister of Works by President Bola Tinubu.