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Odoh writes police over attacks on campaign billboard

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Ruth Oginyi

Professor Benard Ifeanyi Odoh, SSG Emeritus, Ebonyi State and APGA Governorship Candidate for the 2023 election has challenged opposition candidates in the state to attack issues, not campaign materials, individuals as the 2023 general election draw closer.

Odoh made this known while reacting to the destruction of his campaign billboards mounted in strategic locations in the state including Ogoja road, and old Enugu road among others by suspected political hoodlums.

Correspondent reports that Ebonyi people woke up on Monday, August 22, 2023, to discover that billboards belonging to Professor Benard Ifeanyi Odoh bearing his image and that of his Deputy, Dr. Nkata Chukwu in the Abakaliki capital city and some other parts of the State have been removed in the locations where they had been strategically placed.

In a statement, Odoh noted that Series of events in the last couple of days in Ebonyi State have left sour tastes in the mouth of many Nigerians who have followed with daze, the limitless intimidations, harassment, and attacks on opposition elements and as habitual, the denials cum reactions emanating from the government of Engr. David Nweze Umahi.

He,, therefore petition security operatives in the state to use their good intelligent offices to track the perpetrators and bring them to book.

“We would sadly recall that the last couple of days have witnessed increased attacks on opposition elements even within the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and indeed, all those whom the State government considers ‘potential threats to their game of wits and desperate plot to foist an utterly ‘unpopular candidate’ on the people of Ebonyi State. Since the public pronouncement of the said ‘candidate’, many members of the old APC, including serving appointees have since developed cold feet; leaving the Party in suspense and limbo as to those who may eventually fly the Party’s flags in the 2023 general elections.

“With the already divided old and new Ebonyi APC camps battling to arm-twist and undo one other, the recent Federal High Court judgment which recognized Umahi’s arch rival as the authentic flag-bearer of the Party for the Ebonyi South Senatorial ticket must have increased the tempo and desperation of the agents of the government to allegedly launch offensives on those they consider as opposition even within their own Party. Of course, we are aware of the recent purported suspension/expulsion carried out in the most infantile manner all to pave way for Governor Umahi to fly the Party’s Ebonyi South Senatorial flag against extant provisions of the new Electoral Act, and even though the matter is yet pending before an Appellate Court.

“On the other hand, we were also reliably informed, as reported in various print, broadcast, and Social media platforms that the State government had despairingly exerted excessive pressures on the Ebonyi Founding Fathers- a forum of respected Elder statesmen and women who played indispensable roles in the creation of the State to issue a communiqué endorsing the pronounced and preferred candidate of the divided APC as their choice candidate for the 2023 general elections.

“This, the loyalists of the State government allegedly led by Governor Umahi attempted to execute, hiding under an unknown ‘Charter of equity. The script was for the elders who the Governor had already counseled during a Courtesy visit on him to proclaim that power MUST shift to Ebonyi North and only candidates (the Governor’s preferred lackey) should be qualified to vie for the Governorship position.

“As the tempo built up however and the information-saturated media space, the founding fathers got sharply divided as wisdom eventually prevailed on the majority to maintain their grounds that everyone who is in the race for the number one position in the State is all their sons and they cannot,, therefore take a stand in favor of one against the other. As some insiders reliably informed, the elders reasoned that the State government cannot use them to change the goalpost in the middle of a football match. The clouds of dust, though appear to have settled.

“Despite its much-touted but already floundering achievements, particularly in the area of infrastructural developments, the fear of losing power has so much become of tremendous concern to Engr. Umahi and his numerous army of occupations rather than canvass for the support of the electorates through the ballot by show-casing its so-called numerous achievements, has rather resorted to attacks, intimidations, and harassment of those they consider as ‘threats’. It is now so deplorably shameful that even the mere sight of a candidate’s campaign billboards frightens the Umahi government and its agents even while still wielding power.

“For us in the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, who are truly and ideologically progressives in the real sense of the word, we had since we set out for our consultations in June and even in our numerous media appearances maintained a very robust and healthy engagement with both the stakeholders of different political Parties and the Ebonyi electorates. Recall that when I paid a consultative visit to the APC Governorship candidate and Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ogbonna Nwifuru, I had informed the Press that part of the aim of my visit was for us to synergize to make the 2023 elections in Ebonyi issues-based and that there was no love lost between one politician and the other even though they belong to different political parties,s especially in an era where the Electoral Act has rendered thuggery and the use of violence almost irrelevant. This is simply because any attack (s) on any Polling Unit can only lead to the cancellation of elections and results not returned in such areas.

“We have also visited several serving government appointees and leaders within and beyond the shores of the State all in our bid to tell Ebonyians what we are prepared to do from day one when we are eventually elected into power. It is on record that no other candidate (so-called), I repeat, NO CANDIDATE has reached out directly to the electorates with its campaign plans, manifestos, and overall blueprint like we have done in the last couple of weeks or months. That is what democracy and the law entails and rightly provides for. I have consistently maintained before you (the esteemed members of the Press) that the only threat or challenger I face going into the Ebonyi 2023 Governorship election are the issues of hunger and multi-dimensional poverty facing us as a people and that I have a better economic blueprint including detailed plans for the critical sectors of health, education and agriculture which we believe will turn around the fortunes of our dear people very positively. It is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that our people have been reduced to common hawkers and messengers across several cities of Nigeria.

“The law does not permit any citizen in any way or form, no matter how highly placed and whoever may be sending such an individual and not also minding the kind of State apparatus he may think is backing his actions to unleash mayhem on a candidate of another political Party he considers an opposition, his or her supporters or even his campaign materials.

“The genesis of the mindless attacks on our billboards which occurred last night, Sunday, August 21, 2022 (because we saw it still hanging hours after the professional handlers, Rocana Nigeria Ltd had hung them) was that the State government, obviously jittery of the momentum gained by our consultative engagements in the State so far pasted a “Remove Ads” notices on them.

The “Remove Ads” was a result of our advertising handlers refusal to surrender the billboards which we had already paid for to the APC Candidate who had earlier requested for them at all cost.
ROCANA are not in any way and form owing the state government .

“As law abiding citizens who understands the place of professional engagements in matters such as this, it was only incumbent that we reach out and inform the advertising agency- Rocana, which has professionally operated in the state and the entire south east in the last few decades about the “remove ads” notices placed by the Ebonyi State Government on the billboards with it’s official seal. They promised to reach the state government and get back to us as soon as practicable.

“Some hours after, we discovered that the billboards have already been torn and removed forcefully, suspectedly by desperate agents of the state government.
Some of the billboards are still hanging, facing downwards and there have been no explanation offered the professional advertising agent- Rocana who has maintained that it has been paying the Ebonyi State Government it’s taxes, dues and other rates as and when due. This to us is an act of cowardice by Governor Umahi and his army of political bandits. To prove our fears and suspicion right about the ill-intentions of these dastard and coward actors, we discovered that other places where the same Rocana had billboards of other products were not touched and neither was the same “remove ads” notices placed on them.

“At this juncture, it behooves on us and the entire APGA family as responsible, peace-loving and law abiding political party and citizens to;

“Request the authorities of the Nigerian Police Force, Ebonyi State Command to immediately commence investigations, arrest, and prosecute those suspected to be behind this unlawful conduct. The police must leave no stone unturned in this regard least they set a wrong example.

“Sound this as the last warning note to the government and its agents, particularly its multiple armed thugs masquerading as ‘Ebubeagu’ to desist from, I emphasize; avoid being used under any guise or platform to attack APGA campaign materials, members or supporters. For the consequences of any such further attack on the party- campaign materials or humans and the opposition in Ebonyi in general would not be “TOLERATED”

“The youths, whose future and destinies, including those of their children and wards, have been destroyed by the inhuman actions and policies of the present-day government should remember that “when the chips are down, their oppressive ’emperor’ would take the next available flight to the countries they have already stashed enough of our collective wealth and resources and abandon them to their fate to sort themselves out”

“And for the Umahi-led government which has continued to live in cowardice thinking it can perpetually keep the opposition parties in suspended terror to intimidate the electorates into abandoning their civic obligations, we wish to posit that the resoluteness of the APGA family and indeed, the entire Ebonyi electorates to not only canvass support for their genuinely preferred candidates, vote and defend same in next year’s general elections is even now, most unwavering. Their actions are rather emboldening Ebonyians from across all works of life to ensure that a government that would guarantee the rights to their freedoms as enshrined in our various laws emerge victorious at the polls next year. This is more audacious because there’s often a limit to which a person can endure pains!

“As they plan to instigate crises and unleash terror on the electorates as that is all they allegedly boast of during their secret meetings, the government should remember first and foremost that the oath it swore to protect the lives and property of all Ebonyians according to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) have not and will not expire till the 29th day of May 2023 when it shall handover to a newly elected government. More so is the fact that they have no monopoly on violence!

“As I will always say: what lies ahead of us are far greater than what is behind us! Odoh said.

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