Ebonyi 2023: Odoh Calls For Arrest, Prosecution Of Perpetrators Of Damaged Campaign Billboards
*Warns Youths Against Thuggery
The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the 2023 governorship election in Ebonyi State, Professor Benard Odoh, has condemned in totality, the obliteration of his campaign billboards within the Abakaliki capital city and other parts of the State, allegedly by agents of Ebonyi State government.
A statement signed by Odoh on Tuesday which was made available to Journalists in Abakaliki, Monday, during a press conference, explained that “Ebonyians woke up on Monday, August 22, 2023 to discover that billboards belonging to the leading Governorship candidate in the 2023 general elections, Professor Benard Ifeanyi Odoh bearing his image and that of his Deputy, Dr Nkata Chukwu in the Abakaliki capital city and some other parts of the State have been removed in the locations where they had been strategically placed.”
Odoh, in the statement, urged the Nigerian Police Force, to leave no stone unturned in carrying out thorough investigations, arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of the evil conduct, to serve as a deterrent, as he described the destruction of the billboards as an act of cowardice by the Ebonyi State government and its agents.
The APGA Guber candidate who sternly warned the incumbent Governor and the sponsored youths to desist from the disgruntling act, advised that their attacks should rather be targeted at the repugnant issues in the state and not campaign materials nor individuals.
He used the medium to reiterate that, any attack under any guise or platform against the APGA campaign materials, members or supporters, would not be tolerated any longer.
The SSG Emeritus bemoaned the glaring, hysterical intimidations, harassments and violence against opposition elements in the state, while also reprimanding the Governor for his usual nonchalant attitude towards such illicit activities.
The statement read in part:
“The genesis of the mindless attacks on our billboards which occurred last night, Sunday, August 21, 2022 (because we saw it still hanging hours after the professional handlers, Rocana Nigeria Ltd had hung them) was that the State government, obviously jittery of the momentum gained by our consultative engagements in the State so far pasted a “Remove Ads” notices on them.
“The “Remove Ads” was as a result of our advertising handlers refusal to surrender the billboards which we had already paid for to the APC Candidate who had earlier requested for them at all cost.
“ROCANA are not in any way and form owing the state government. As law-abiding citizens who understand the place of professional engagements in matters such as this, it was only incumbent that we reach out and inform the advertising agency – Rocana, which has professionally operated in the state and the entire South-East in the last few decades about the “remove ads” notices placed by the Ebonyi State Government on the billboards with its official seal. They promised to reach the state government and get back to us as soon as practicable.
“Some hours after, we discovered that the billboards have already been torn and removed forcefully, suspected by desperate agents of the state government.
“Some of the billboards are still hanging, facing downwards and there have been no explanation offered the professional advertising agent- Rocana who has maintained that it has been paying the Ebonyi State Government it’s taxes, dues and other rates as and when due. This to us is an act of cowardice by Governor Umahi and his army of political bandits.
“To prove our fears and suspicion right about the ill-intentions of these dastard and coward actors, we discovered that other places where the same Rocana had billboards of other products were not touched and neither was the same “remove ads” notices placed on them.
“At this juncture, it behoves on us and the entire APGA family as responsible, peace-loving and law-abiding political party and citizens to: “Request the authorities of the Nigerian Police Force, Ebonyi State Command to immediately commence investigations, arrest and prosecute those suspected to be behind this unlawful conduct. The police must leave no stone unturned in this regard least they set a wrong example.
“Sound this as the last warning note to the government and its agents, particularly its multiple armed thugs masquerading as ‘Ebubeagu’ to desist from, I emphasize; avoid being used under any guise or platform to attack APGA campaign materials, members or supporters. The consequences of any such further attack on the party- campaign materials or humans and the opposition in Ebonyi, in general, would not be “TOLERATED”
“The youths, whose future and destinies, including those of their children and wards, have been terribly destroyed by the inhuman actions and policies of the present-day government should remember that “when the chips are down, their oppressive ’emperor’ would take the next available flight to the countries they have already stashed enough of our collective wealth and resources and abandon them to their fate to sort themselves out.
“And for the Umahi-led government which has continued to live in cowardice thinking it can perpetually keep the opposition parties in suspended terror in order to intimidate the electorates into abandoning their civic obligations, we wish to posit that the resoluteness of the APGA family and indeed, the entire Ebonyi electorates to not only canvass support for their genuinely preferred candidates, vote and defend same in next year’s general elections is even now, most unwavering.
“Their actions are rather emboldening Ebonyians from across all walks of life to ensure that a government that would guarantee the rights to their freedoms as enshrined in our various laws emerge victorious at the polls next year. This is more audacious because there’s often a limit to which a person can endure pains!
“As they plan to instigate crises and unleash terror on the electorates as that is all they allegedly boast of during their secret meetings, the government should remember first and foremost that the oath it swore to protect lives and property of all Ebonyians according to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) have not and will not expire till the 29th day of May 2023 when it shall handover to a newly elected government. More so is the fact that they have no monopoly on violence!
“As I will always say: what lies ahead of us are far greater than what is behind us.”
The former university Lecturer also condemned the alleged attack on Ebonyi women who were holding an August meeting at a recreational centre, People’s Club Abakaliki, last Saturday.
“Just last weekend, the media was again awash with reports alleging an attack by men of the State’s Security outfit- Ebubeagu on Women’s August meeting which had been billed to take place at the People’s Club Abakaliki, a property owned by a private individual.
“It was alleged that following sustained gunshots inside the said venue by the supposed security outfit, some of the women were injured as they were forced out of the venue. The real motive of the desperate Umahi government and his agents as alleged is widely known to the world; to perhaps cause and instil fears on peaceful and peace-loving Ebonyians so that the fear would deter them from campaigning and performing their civic responsibilities in the 2023 general elections.
“It ridicules our beloved Ebonyi State that August meetings which have since become an annual ceremony that attracts guests from all over the world to the Igbo land and even beyond- a gathering that affords our mothers the privilege and opportunity to chat a way forward for communal progress is also reportedly considered a ‘threat’ to Umahi and his power-hungry liveried servants.
“What a shameful act of abnormal cowardice for a man who has presided over the affairs of about four million Ebonyians in the past over seven years! Unfortunately, the power honey-comb which he had been licking and dealing ruthlessly with all segments and sectors of the Ebonyi fabric, perhaps, thinking it won’t be exhausted, must surely come to an end on May 29th, 2023; and the days of reckoning and human judgments shall begin immediately.”