Abia State chapter of the Labour Party (LP) has appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Police, the DSS and all other law enforcement agencies, saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring peace and order in the country, to call Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and the Abia State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to order, before they set Abia on fire.
The LP accused the PDP-led Abia State Government of violent attacks and intimidation of its members and destruction of its campaign billboards.
The Labour Party made the appeal in a press conference convened by the Alex Otti campaign council, which held in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
Iheanaccho Obioma, director general, Alex Otti Campaign Council, who presided over the conference, decried the continuous destruction of the campaign billboards and other campaign materials of its candidate and other candidates of the party.
He said that the party had issued two different press releases with the captions ‘PDP-led Abia State Government should be held accountable if there’s breakdown of law and order in Abia State’ and ‘Restore our illegally removed campaign billboard’, before calling for a press conference.
He further said that the statements were issued sequel to violent attacks, intimidation of its members and destruction of its campaign billboards, by the PDP-led Abia State Government.
Iheanacho explained that the press briefing would not have been necessary if the PDP-led government and her agents had listened to their appeals and halted its politics of hate and violence directed at them, however they appear to have gotten emboldened by peaceful disposition as they have carried out more onslaughts.
He recounted how the flex of its newly installed billboard around Umuikaa Junction, in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the State, was allegedly removed by Abia State Government, through Anthony Otuonye, general manager, Abia State Signage and Advertisement Agency (ABSAA), on the grounds that the PDP has no presence there and thus would not allow an opposition party to mount a billboard there.
This is despite the fact that Alex Otti, LP governorship candidate in the 2023 general election in Abia, had paid Abia State Government the statutory Ten Million Naira (N10,000,000) required from every governorship candidate.
Iheanacho noted that they spent about N4million to the vendor they contracted and the owner of the billboard, who moved it all the way from Port Harcourt to Umuikaa Junction, because there wasn’t an existing billboard there.
“Even when we do not have need to use the said billboard for eight months, we had to pay for that number of months for the owner to accept to deal with us on that particular billboard,” Iheanacho said.
He also said that the vendor paid the ABSAA General Manager, the sum of N1.2 million, which he collected and approved the installation of the billboard, before he turned around and removed it, less than 48 hours after it had been installed.
To justify his barbaric and provocative action, Iheanacho alleged that the ABSAA General Manager falsely claimed that the vendor agreed to allow him use it for PDP campaign before he gave the approval.
“If one may ask, how can a vendor and billboard owner, who were contracted and paid by a candidate, who had earlier paid the government turn around and hand over their client’s billboard to the PDP, because PDP is the ruling party”?
He accused the ABSAA General Manager of displaying unbridled arrogance and primitive ego, when he told them that the government would be angry, if the Labour Party is allowed to mount its billboard there.
He argued that Otuonye’s utterances suggested that “Abia State belongs to the PDP and thus no citizen is allowed to enjoy the democratic rights conferred on him by our laws.”
He accused Otuonye of threatening the life of its vendor and restated his avowed determination not to allow Labour Party billboard to be mounted there.
He said that the party has already written to the Police and the DSS concerning the incident and noted that the DSS has repeatedly warned Otuonye against setting the state on fire, through his actions and asked him to resolve the matter quickly by allowing Labour Party to mount its billboard, which they have paid for.
“The actions of the PDP-led Abia State Government, which continually manifest violence and intolerance have continued to contradict Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s cosmetic claims of being peace loving and tolerant, while exposing him as a desperate man, who is willing to enable and endorse violence on the State in a bid to give his handpicked candidate undue advantage ahead of the 2023 elections.
“Just few days ago, our House of Assembly candidate for Isiala Ngwa South State Constituency, Ubani Daniel alleged that there was a plot to illegally abduct and remand him in prison on trumped up charges of murder.
“To execute this plot, he alleged that some fierce-looking security agents trailed him to a radio station, where he was a guest at a live programme in Umuahia.
“While still on air the security men suspected to be a detachment of policemen drawn from Government House security, in a Toyota Hilux and Honda Pilot, attempted to storm the said radio station. At the verge of forcing themselves into the premises, they retreated and mounted an impromptu stop-and -search roadblock around the station.
“This development constrained Ubani to the station long after he had finished the live interview and managed to escape from the radio station, while leaving his car behind.
“When his driver and aides finally attempted driving out in his car, the stern-looking policemen halted them, upturned every single pin in the car in the name of searching the car. As they couldn’t find anything incriminating, the leader of the team finally asked them ‘where is your Oga?’ This is a dangerous twist that must be discouraged.”
He appealed to men of good conscience and those who desire peace in Abia, like the Labour Party, to call the Okezie Ikpeazu administration to order and reminded Abians that its patience and tolerance are not unlimited, stressing that as bonafide Abians that they would be left with the option of applying all legitimate measures to assert their rights, which are being flagrantly violated by the government in power.
Iheanacho, observed that most Abia civil servants and pensioners are being owed several months of accumulated salary and pension arrears, while key Abia institutions are collapsing by the day, because the state has abandoned its responsibilities and decided to chase shadows in the name of pursuing perceived political opponents.
“Having known the pattern and antecedents of the PDP-led Abia State Government, it’s easy to decipher that their attacks are targeted mainly on the Labour Party and her candidates, because it is considered the most popular party with mass appeal and followership in the state, coupled with the long standing presence of Alex Otti, its party’s governorship candidate, as the mouth piece of all Abians and the choice of the masses,” he said.
He called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Police, the DSS and indeed all law enforcement agencies, saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring peace and order, to call Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and the Abia State PDP to order before they set Abia on fire.