The dispute as to who was dimension the authentic candidate for the All Progressive Congress, APC, Ebonyi South Senatorial ticket, Friday, took a different as a group, the Ebonyi South Concerned Citizens, petitioned the national leadership of the party, led by Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, over an alleged plot to suspend the factional candidate of the party, Princess Ann Agom-Eze.
This was as the group claimed that the chairman, secretary and treasurer of Umudomi Ward (Agom-Eze’s ward) in the Onicha Local Government Area of the state, were held hostage since Wednesday by the leadership of the party in the state, in a bid to sign the suspension letter.
Leader of the Ebonyi South Concerned Citizens, Engr. Ogochukwu Orji, stated this while briefing journalists, in Abakaliki, on Friday, alleging that the party ward executives were offered N1Million by the Governor to sign the purported document, but rejected same.
According to him, “I am aware that since three days now, some executives of the APC in Umudomi Ward in the Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, have been held hostage by the leadership of the party in the state, on the order of Governor David Umahi.
“I spoke with the ward chairman and I got to know that they-the chairman, secretary and treasurer were invited through the zonal chairman (Ebonyi South) of the party who is from the same village with Governor Umahi. They were asked to sign a document meant to suspend and expel Agom-Eze with all manner of allegations; but they refused and said they would not sign such document.
“And before they were invited, the Chairman of the Umudomi Ward, John O. Ogboji, had received a court order that he should not do anything with regards to the matter, which is still in court and that nobody should be suspended.
“After trying all this and it could not work for them, they (the party leadership) invited them to the house of the council boss in Abakaliki, where they were held from 8am till 11pm on Wednesday (that’s 15 hours not minding their age and family). Today, as we speak, I called the ward chairman and he told me he slept in Abakaliki and couldn’t go back to the village to meet with his family, and that they are still in Abakaliki. And as I speak to you people, the governor has offered them N1Million ordering them to still sign the suspension document, but they still refused.”
He noted that he was aware of alleged move to suspend and expel Mrs Agom-Eze from the party, saying it was for this reason that he earlier led a protest to the party leadership in Abuja, last month.
He added, “I’m also aware of every move being made by Governor David Umahi to remove Ann Agom-Eze from the APC. Before now, I had led a protest to the national leadership of the party in Abuja, because of this.
“We are talking about Ebonyi South Senatorial District, which comprises of Onicha, Ohaozara, Ivo, Afikpo North and Afikpo South Local Government Areas. And from statistics, Onicha controls the most populous number of votes in the zone, followed by Afikpo South.
“From the way things are going, the present governor of the state bought form for presidency to stand for the primary election, while his younger brother, Austin Umahi, bought form to contest the primary election for the Ebonyi South Senatorial zone; and Princess Ann Agom-Eze equally bought form for the Senatorial ticket’s primary. The governor stood for the APC Presidential primary election and got 38 votes. Umahi’s younger brother (Austin) and Agom-Eze stood for the Senatorial primary. Austin defeated Agom-Eze and automatically, the woman became second in the contest.
“After the governor lost in the presidential primary election, he came down from Abuja and Austin, the younger brother, withdrew and said he was no longer interested in the contest. I have the letter of his withdrawal. From the new Electoral Law 2022, you cannot have double nominations in an electoral year (the governor has purchased forms for Presidential and now for Senatorial primaries). This is our issue with him. Now, he went and brought a different form for Senatorial contest, which the national leadership of APC has denied it was not privy to.
“Even the INEC initially refused to publish Umahi’s name as an aspirant in the Ebonyi South Senatorial primary. But he went to the Federal High Court Abakaliki and got a court injunction that INEC should publish his name. This was how Ann Agom-Eze through her lawyer was joined in the matter. This is an aberration and even at the court, the day the judge delivered his ruling, he said the ruling was in favour of Ann Agom-Eze. So, the governor is just desperate and wants to use the instruments of the state to inject Agom-Eze out of the contest.
“Umahi is jittery and he is aware that he cannot win this case at the Court of Appeal and, we are equally sure he won’t win, except money exchange hands. He had already foreseen defeat, that is why he is doing all this.
“We pray the national leadership of the APC led by Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, to tread with caution and allow Agom-Eze a level playing field to participate in the forthcoming Senatorial election come 2023, in Ebonyi South.
“The party leadership should listen to the voice of reason and allow justice and fairness to play. This is a woman for crying out loud and, we demand that she shouldn’t be edged out of the contest. The party should call Umahi to order and ask to stop intimidating and harassing a fellow party member, who has been in the party before he (Umahi) defected to the APC.”
But, in a swift reaction, Governor Umahi, through his Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Mr Chooks Okoh, described the allegations as baseless and unfounded, adding that Agom-Eze should go and resolve her challenges with the party leadership, in the state.
According to him, the Governor had no interest in suspending a member of the APC, saying the accusation he offered N1Million to ward executives of the party in the state, to sign a suspension letter meant for Mrs Agom-Eze, was a mirage.
He said, “The attention of the Executive Governor of Ebonyi state has been drawn to some rumours from the social media alleging that some Executives of the All Progressives Congress in Umudomi, Onicha Local Government area of the State were yesterday held hostage in attempt to force them to sign a suspension letter against one Mrs Ann Agom Eze, a member of the party in the ward.
“Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have responded to such conjectures except that the mischief makers deviously dragged the good reputation of the Governor and the revered State Party officials into their poisonous farce.
“We wish to State categorically that the rumours are both unfounded and totally ill conceived to create unnecessary tension and foist emotional blackmail on the people.
“For the records, neither the State Government nor Governor David Nweze Umahi as a person, has any Score with the said Mrs Agom Eze as to plot her suspension from the ward level of the party.
“Agom Eze lost in both the first and the subsequent reruns of APC Primary election for Ebonyi South Senatorial district. Does it not sound totally absurd that Governor Umahi who won the election should stake the sum of One million naira as alleged by the rumour mongers, to secure the suspension of Mrs Agom Eze?
“The Governor is the candidate of the party and the contests that went on does not suggest he has anything to fear from any quarters. So, what should be his interest in getting anybody removed from the party?”
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