Threat Of Election Violence In Abia (1)
ABIA State is not known for political violence since its creation, though it witnessed it consistently during the administration of the immediate past government in the state between 1999-2007. It was obvious to Nigerians then that the political violence that rocked the state was orchestrated by the government of the time to divert attention from its non-performance.
During the period, the state was always in the news for negative reasons. If Governor Orji’s predecessor who totally abandoned the business of governance in the pursuit of cheap political popularity was not attacking the then President of the country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s government, he was busy fighting some prominent politicians in the state or using his dreaded Bakassi Boys to witch-hunt political opponents. It was an era marked or characterised with intentional and orchestrated diversions, deceits and political brigandage.
When Governor Orji assumed office in 2007, the political atmosphere was tensed, but before two years, the government stabilized it and made a move to bring all the stakeholders to a round table. Being envious of the progress by the state government, some politicians started sponsoring kidnapping in the state, especially in the commercial city of Aba. For almost two years, the ugly menace nearly grounded daily activities in the state. Many including the then President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Joseph Dauda (SAN) called for Governor Orji’s removal and declaration of State Of Emergency in the State. Governor Orji was never deterred or distracted with the undue criticisms; rather his government confronted the monster headlong. Billions of the state fund that would have been used for the development of the state was used by the state government to tackle the menace.
At the end of the day, the ringleader of the kidnap gang, Osisikankwo was killed in a gun deal with the security agents and the kidnapping menace was totally eradicated. Those who have deserted their businesses in the state especially in Aba returned en masse. Indigenes or non-indigenes of the state who have stayed away from the state for long because of the menace also started visiting the state again. Investors were attracted and business boomed; job opportunities were created like never before. The development provided the peaceful atmosphere that characterised the 2011 polls in the state, which the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the first time since 1999 won landslide. Since then, the state has remained secured, peaceful and calm.
Ahead of the 2015 rescheduled polls in the state, some people and groups appear to be determined in fomenting trouble to destroy the peace of the state once more. Latest of such incidents in the state since last year was the recent alleged shooting of an innocent Abian, Frank Dickson by the armed guards of a governorship candidate of a rival political party in the state at Umuojiocha village square, Oboro in Ikwuano Local Government Area.
Speaking on the alleged attack, the Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. ACB Agbazuere who condemned it, said that the shattered legs of the victim is now receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Umuahia. Agbazuere alleged that before the recent incident, supporters of that candidate had shot the PDP House of Representatives candidate for Isiala Ngwa, Chief Darlington Nwokocha in Isiala Ngwa South, attacked and destroyed campaign vehicles of the PDP governorship candidate, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, in Uturu.
Agbazuere warned that those instigating violence in the state should not take the humaneness of the governor for granted, stressing that the Abia State government will no longer condone violence from any person or group or watch anybody forcefully intimidate innocent Abians in the name of politics. He urged the governorship candidates of the various parties in the state to abide by the peace accord they entered into before security personnel.
It would be recalled that the governorship candidate in question before now has been accused of parading men in military uniform in the state.
• To be continued
• Omenegor, a system analyst wrote from Toronto Canada
According to Agbazuere, he was allegedly parading men in military who he uses to display physical force, intimidate and harass law abiding Abians. Citing instances of the alleged intimidation and harassment, the Commissioner said that during his campaign rally at Umuacha Primary School, Amaise Ahaba, Isiala Ngwa South and Ariam Usaka in Ikwuano local government areas of the state, the candidate used his soldiers to block the road and denied citizens passage. He said the state government was worried because the candidate, as a private man, was not empowered by law to have military personnel attached to him, adding that the authenticity of the men being paraded by the candidate was in serious doubt, which only the Army High Command could clear. The candidate’s camp on the hand has dismissed these allegations as cheap blackmail fabricated by government intended to cause public disaffection against him.
Obviously, the current development in the state is strange and worrisome. It calls for urgent attention by the leadership of the security agencies in the country before it gets out of hand. Even at the peak of the liberation struggle championed by Gov. Orji, the state did not witness or experience any violence despite threats by Orji’s predecessor then that he would make the state ungovernable for him. It may not be out of the place that the candidate and his supporters seem not to understand the elementary rudiment of democratic process and electioneering campaign. While it is his right to have security protection as party governorship candidate, such security personnel and supporters should not be seen as tools for political violence. Besides, constitutionally, the state governor is the chief security officer of the state. Nobody should dare disrupt the security of the state under any circumstance because of its monumental implications and effects, especially in election period like this. One imagines what will become of the state if Gov. Orji and his PDP members decide to launch reprisal attack on the candidate and his supporters.
Truly, he is not the only governorship candidate in the state, but the question is; why is it that he and his supporters have always been in the news over alleged disruption of peace in the state? Does it mean that they have monopoly of violence or what? Even if the candidate is not in the knowhow of the violent activities of his supporters in the state, there is need for him, not only to caution them, but to speak out against their actions in public. He should realise that his governorship ambition cannot be achieved on the altar of violence. It is axiomatic that if there is any group that should have monopoly of violence in the state, it is the PDP and its supporters who have the incumbent governor as its leader and chief security of the state. But neither the Governor, nor his party governorship candidate, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and party supporters have displayed any form of violence in the face of consistent provocations since the electioneering campaign commenced. It is not in Gov. Orji’s style of governance since he assumed office.
Gov. Orji’s government has shown in the last seven years plus that peace is very imperative for any society to thrive. The state has won several awards as the most peaceful state in the country under his watch. As many states are already boiling ahead of the polls, the Abia State government has managed to keep relative peace in the state; and this has been instrumental to the state’s monumental achievements in all sectors of economy especially in the area of rural developments and human empowerment.
• Omenegor, a system analyst wrote from Toronto Canada
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