Ebonyi State, like many other states in Nigeria, is gearing up for the 2023 general election which, barring a last-minute change to the schedule by the Independent National Electoral Commission, will take place between February and March. of 2023.
In an ideal world, as election dates approach, those seeking elective office should begin to organize their plans, actions, and strategies to communicate or promote them to the constituents whose mandate they seek in the election.
Currently, however, all seems not to be rosy for opposition politicians and their supporters in the state. The intrigues, happenings, and events currently unfolding in the Salt of the Nation have thrown the actors of the political space into a state of “the more you look, the less you see.”
Before the elections, members of the Ebubeagu security team were accused of having attacked, dehumanized and mutilated opposition elements in the state, allegedly at the request of the Ebonyi state government and supervised by the governor, Ing David Umahi. Opposition elements have repeatedly accused the ruling APC of muzzling them in a bid to have a smooth path to victory in 2023.
The current scenario thus negates the popular opinion in a democracy that a successful political system is a coalition in which there is peaceful coexistence among its various groups and where candidates from different parties can compete and win freely. For political observers, the state is on the brink of political implosion.
Commenting on the situation, the senatorial candidate of the Grand Alliance of All Progressives for the Southern Zone of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Eleje, denounced the alleged nefarious activities of the Ebubeagu militia, adding that it had ceased to be useful.
According to him, the actions of the militias in the state have closed the political space and hindered the freedom of expression of citizens.
He said: “For me, what the Ebubeagu militia in Ebonyi state is doing is more like closing the space and not allowing the freedom of expression of the citizens. Politicians must communicate to the electorate what they have in store for them. If you gag people, they don’t talk; you are simply disenfranchising the electorate because they don’t know what they are buying.
â€œI think the Ebubeagu security team has outlived its usefulness. Yes, he might have meant well, but we both know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. No one currently trusts him. And if a society does not trust the security architecture, no organization can claim to provide security to that society.
Michael Ugochukwu, an indigenous Ebonyi and member of the state’s former APC Legacy Group, said the egregious operations of Ebubeagu operatives have come to a head, and he has called on Police Inspector General Usman Baba to disband the group. outfit.
â€œI believe it is time for the Federal Government, through the Inspector General of Police, to step in and protect the rights and lives of all Ebonyi people. I also call for the dissolution of the so-called terrorist group on behalf of the Ebubeagu Security Network. The network is being used as a cover to commit various crimes for the benefit of its paymaster, who happens to be Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi.”
According to a former Information Commissioner and head of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Chief Abia Onyike, the Ebubeagu Security Team was not fulfilling the duty for which it was established in the geopolitical region of the Southeast.
According to him, Governor Umahi had turned the group into a private militia.
â€œThe Ebubeagu came and kidnapped me where I was buying drugs and took me to their torture chambers in the old Government House, Abakaliki, where they stripped me naked and beat me badly for over an hour. When I asked what my offense was, they said, I’m criticizing Umahi. Umahi runs a rogue state in Ebonyi that relies on massive propaganda and a brutal state terror machine called the Ebubeagu.
â€œThe essence is to use the militia to repress and subdue the opposition and deploy violence that will undermine the sovereign will of the people to elect leaders of their choosing. Instead of setting up a regional security organization to deal with the herders, he cleverly turned it into his personal militia,” he said.
In addition, a member of the Labor Party in the state, Dr. David Ogbonna, and supporter of the party’s jailed senatorial candidate for the Ebonyi Southern District, Hon. Linus Okorie, lamented Ebubeagu’s activities and said that he had been a willing tool of oppression and subjugation by his suppliers.
He said: “I asked the Nigerian police to immediately disband this group of state militias. And I also call on the National Security Adviser to investigate the proliferation of weapons in Ebonyi State and recover these automatic weapons from the Ebubeagu militia group.
“Given the size of the weapons that have proliferated through the group’s operations, we fear for the state and the southeast after 2023 if Ebubeagu is not brought under control.”
Aside from the alleged attacks, harassment, and victimization of opposition politicians and supporters, Governor Umahi issued an executive order banning political campaigns and demonstrations in markets, schools, and state parks. Citing the defacement of those places as a reason, the Governor had placed a refundable fee of N5 million for anyone wishing to use such facilities.
This has also made members of the opposition nervous, giving the impression that they are currently unable to move and promote themselves to voters.
A convoy of APGA gubernatorial candidate Professor Benard Odoh was attacked on 20 October 2022 in Iboko, in the state’s Izzi local government area, as he was on his way to a meeting with party faithful.
A two-term member of the House of Representatives, Okorie, who arrived in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi state, from Abuja on Saturday morning (October 16), is due to meet his supporters on Sunday (October 17). in the local government of Onicha. State zone, when Ebubeagu’s team took it away.
His whereabouts were uncertain throughout Sunday until news leaked Monday morning that he had been arrested by members of the Ebubeagu Security Team in collaboration with the National Drug Control Agency for alleged illicit drug deals.
But on Monday morning (October 18), NDLEA state commander Iyke Uche denied knowing the whereabouts of the former lawmaker, saying the agency neither knew nor arrested him. In addition, a strong PDP member in the Onicha state council area, Soul2Soul, was kidnapped and tortured for almost a week before being allowed to leave.
Two youth opposition leaders were abducted, stripped and severely beaten in Okporrojo village, Idima community in Afikpo South LGA in the state, and then transferred to Abakaliki on various baseless charges. On November 12, 2022, the militia attacked youth in the state’s Ohaozara LGA who were attending an Obi-Dient meeting. That incident led to the death of an elderly woman and left dozens of others with varying degrees of injury.
Just last Saturday, another Lagos-based PDP boss and businessman, Chief Julius Orji (also known as Ochiri Edda), was allegedly attacked and was unable to die because of the whiskers. Ebubeagu’s men were said to have opened fire on his convoy in the community of Ekoli in the Afikpo South LGA of the state. This is in addition to complaints about Ebubeagu officers destroying billboards and opposition campaign materials at will.
In reaction, APGA Public Secretary Chinedu Nwanchor said: “What has happened to our opposition political parties, especially the Labor Party incident in Okposi, is reprehensible, unacceptable and an act of intimidation by the ruling party. APC in Ebonyi. Condition. The Ebonyi State government has been trying to enforce all kinds of order in the state in an attempt to retain power by all means. But what he doesn’t know is that you can take a horse to the river, but you can’t force it to drink water. The ebony are wiser now. When D-Day comes, the ebony will decide at the polls.
He added: “Governor Umahi banned political campaigns and demonstrations in schools, markets, spare parts, etc. rallies? And if he did, where is the evidence?
In reaction, Governor Umahi said that the Ebubeagu team, as a legal creation, complemented the conventional security apparatus in maintaining law and order in the state.
His Special Assistant in Media and Strategy, Chooks Okoh, stated this in an interview with our correspondent.
He said: “Ebubeagu is a legal creation that actively helps regular security teams to maintain law and order. I think they have been doing very well. I think they only go after criminals and lawbreakers. I don’t think they are political in their dealings; They are well trained.”