As 2023 political games hot up in Abia, some leading opposition parties in the State are raising the alarm about alleged attacks on their members, offices and equipment. The parties in these directions are Labour Party, (LP) All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Young Progressive Party (YPP). These attacks, according to the opposition parties, are allegedly being carried out by thugs and persons loyal to the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party and by extension, Abia State Government.
The development, they said, are targeted at weakening them from providing the viable alternative to Abians about who should be their next leaders from 2023. In separate press releases issued by the parties recently, the political parties cited the incidents where their events were either invaded or disrupted by thugs allegedly hired by members of the PDP. Young Progressive Party (YPP) whose candidate is Engr Enyinnaya Nwafor, recently accused an Eze-elect in Osisioma Ngwa LGA, Chief John Elijah of organising some youths to disrupt its party meeting at Mbutu Nta Village of Njiko Umunna autonomous community.
During the said attack, canopies, chairs and public address system rented for the event were allegedly destroyed by thugs loyal to PDP and the Eze-Elect, who according to YPP, claimed that allowing a political meeting to hold in his domain might make Abia State government to deny him his staff of office as a confirmed traditional ruler. The YPP signed by its publicity secretary, Bestman Eruba Esq, read in part;
“The Abia State Chapter of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) has received with dismay the news of the unfortunate disruption of our party meeting at Mbutu Nta Village of Njiko Umunna Autonomous Community in Ama Asaa Ward 5 of Osisioma Ngwa LGA, today by agents of the People’s Democratic Party led by the Honourable Councillor Representing Ward 5 in Osisioma Ngwa Legislative Council, Hon. Nnamdi Okoro acting allegedly on the instruction of the Honourable Member Representing Osisioma Ngwa North State Constituency and Former Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Bishop Kennedy Njoku and ostensibly in collaboration with the Eze- Elect of Njiko Umunna Autonomous Community, Chief John Elijah who is the current Prime Minister of the Community.”
“This is the first video attached to this release shows the characters mentioned above at the premises of Mbutu Nta council Hall where members of the YPP in Ward 5 had fixed their canopies outside the hall for their meeting when some boys came and destroyed all the canopies and chairs thereby stopping the meeting from holding at the venue. When leaders of the party contacted our candidate for the State constituency to report the sad event, he sent a representative from the community to the arena who after seeing things for himself requested them to fix a new canopy, as the former rental personnel had refused to help them fix another set of canopies, chairs and tables because of the damages already incurred by the things destroyed.”
The publicity secretary continued,”They got a new rental outfit to set up new canopies when the PDP agents saw they were putting up another set of canopies, the Councillor of Ward 5, Hon. Nnamdi Okoro came with some thugs numbering 5 from Umuimo respectively from Amuzu, Mbutu and Ibeku Ngwa to destroy the new sets of canopies fixed for the meeting including the public address equipment. To avert the possibility of disorder, leaders of the YPP adviced the meeting location be changed to another venue.”
The Young Progressive Party further lamented that its campaign office in Umuahia has been sealed up by officials of Umuahia Capital Development Authority (UCDA) for no satisfactory reason. Meanwhile, the YPP guber candidate, Engr Enyinnaya Nana Nwafor who is the son of a two time Deputy Governor of Abia, the late Dr Chima Nwafor, is regarded in Abia as a former ally of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, having done good number of contracts for Abia State government under the leadership of Ikpeazu.
Engr Enyinnaya Nwafor, left the PDP to join YPP, together with the then exeutive Chairman of Obingwa LGA to realise his guber ambition.
Engr Nwafor was also one of the aspirants in PDP who rejected the alleged imposition of Prof Uche Ikonne on PDP before the primary elections and teamed up with Chima Anyaso, a youth grassroots controller from Igbere, Bende LGA and Anyaso is now his running mate. Before the latest outcries by YPP, the party had lamented in late July that their expensive billboards which they installed in Osisioma, Aba and Umuahia were pulled down by agents of Abia State government and the PDP even when the billboards, according to the party, did not offend any advertising procedure. Also in the same vein, Labour Party, Abia State chapter has accused the Abia State government and officials of PDP of waging violence against members of Labour Party and their supporters, with the aim of instilling fears in them ahead of 2023 game.
Labour Party, in a statement jointly signed by Njoku Jerry Ajike, Publicity Secretary of LP and Mr Ferdinand Ekeoma, media aid to Dr Alex Otti, guber candidate of LP warned that the alleged attacks could lead to a breakdown of law and order, if it is continued in the State. The party allegedly that its members and supporters have either been threatened, attacked in their houses or ejected from venues of meeting or even prevented from holding peaceful gatherings in parts of the State, despite the peaceful culture of Labour Party. The LP statement read in part, “That notwithstanding, our peaceful disposition and dedication to pursuing our political ambition in adherence to the provision of our laws and all known democratic tenets, we would not under any circumstance sit by idly and watch Abia State government and PDP unleash their medieval brigands on our members, supporters and indeed, innocent Abians.” “The Labour Party, its leaders, stakeholders and indeed her supporters across the nation will no longer tolerate any violent onslaught from the PDP led Abia State government. This release serves as last warning.” The statement concluded by saying, “Finally, we are by this release putting security agencies and indeed, the general public on notice that the PDP led Abia State government should be held accountable should there be any breakdown of law and order in Abia State.”
All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State is also singing the same songs of alleged harassment and intimidation, as it notified Abians in August that a free medical/surgery scheme embarked upon by its Governorship candidate, Prof Greg Ibe was disrupted at Osisioma Ngwa LGA by some thugs.The free medical exercise, APGA said, was a continuation of the ongoing medical intervention by Prof Ibe, aimed at providing quality healthcare for Abians at no cost. The disrupted Osisioma event was supposed to serve as the launching ground of Prof Greg Ibe medical outreach for Abia South senatorial district.
Before the Osisioma brouhaha, the free medical outreach had successfully taken place at Umuahia for Abia Central and Ohafia, for Abia North. Also reacting to the unfriendly atmosphere, YPP House of Assembly candidate for Bende South, Ugocgukwu Nwankwo maintained that the destruction of billboards belonging to his party would not dampen his spirit or that of his party as according to him, the people have already rejected PDP.
In the thick of all these, the ruling PDP has not applied the same velocity of energy in replying its opponents but rather, concentrating all efforts on the marketing of its star candidate, Prof Uche Ikonne and other candidates.
These allegations bring to fore, the episode of 2015 when coffins were placed in front of Abs town hall by unknown persons, with fresh palm fronds tied around it.
At the scary scene were some inscriptions which warned residents to vote in a particular direction, failure, which the voters were warned that they ‘will die’. Efforts to hear from the Vice Chairman (Abia North) of PDP, Chief Amah Abraham could not yield fruit at press time as his phone number was “switched off” when called. Abraham who is the acting Publicity Secretary of Abia PDP, has before now, maintained that his party is has is not a violent organization but beloved in the popularity of its achievements in the State to remain the first choice of the people.
But an executive member of Abia PDP who reacted to the accusations, under anonymity, described the claims of APGA, YPP and LP as “figment of the imaginations”, insisting that PDP does not believe in violence and did not involve in destruction or disruption of any political event involving the opposition parties.