The Abia State chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has cried out over alleged intimidation by the state government and its agents, saying the opposition party has been subjected to series of attacks and disruption of its political activities.
State chairman of APGA, Rev Augustine Ehiemere, raised the alarm at the weekend during a press conference in Aba to denounce the “senseless acts of terror sponsored by Abia State Government and directed at APGA supporters and her governorship aspirant, Dr. Alex Otti.”
He specifically stated that APGA and its leader, Otti, have been banned by the state government from holding any political activities in Obingwa Local Government Area, where the State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, hails from, and therefore considered ‘a no-go-area’ for the opposition party.
While recounting several “politically motivated acts of terror directed at APGA and Otti in Obingwa Local Government Area, Ehiemere said the most recent event occurred on August 21, 2018, when a rally organised by APGA at the premises of the National Institute for Nigerian Languages (NINLAN) was scuttled by the Chairman of Obingwa council area, Hon Hanson Amaechi.
The council boss in his reaction to the allegation told newsmen that he acted to preserve the peace in his domain, insisting that he merely went to prevent the two factions of APGA from tearing each other apart.
He said the APGA rally was not allowed to hold because it was not authorised, adding that he had asked APGA leaders to go and get permission from the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, and the traditional ruler of Umuokahia community before they could hold the rally.
However, the state chairman of APGA said police clearance was obtained for the rally which was organised to receive defectors from other political parties, including the ruling PDP, adding that the venue was also paid for before the date was scheduled.
“On arrival at the venue early in the morning of the day (August 21), the leaders of APGA discovered that the venue had been locked. Given that the venue had been paid for and police clearance secured for the event the leaders engaged the school security men who were surprised that the gate had been locked,” he said.
According to Ehiemere, it was while they were remonstrating with the school security that the Chairman of Obingwa Local Government Area, Amaechi, “emerged from across the gate with several thugs.”
He further alleged that the council boss “emphatically stated that he was under firm instruction from the state government to ensure that the rally did not hold and would therefore not unlock the gate.”
The APGA chairman said the council boss was resolute not to allow the rally, and when a senior official of the federal government owned school came out to confirm that the venue had been paid for by APGA, he was chased away and threatened by thugs.
Ehiemere stated that the climax of the attack on APGA supporters was a bulldozer belonging to Obingwa local council was driven menacingly towards the crowd thereby causing stampede with many people sustaining injuries as they scampered to avoid being crushed by the heavy duty equipment.
“The most dangerous aspect of this sad development is that these government sponsored thugs are becoming more daring as they are emboldened by the assurances of their sponsors that security agents can do nothing to them, hence our decision to put Abians at alert,” the APGA chairman said.
He blamed the Governor, Ikpeazu, for the growing culture of political intolerance, saying he had not restrained his agents from “mobilizing and funding thugs to carry out violent attacks with the aim of scaring Otti away from Obingwa Local Government Area.”