As political actors readjust and restrategize following Saturday’s rescheduling of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the two major contending political parties in Ebonyi State, Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress, have continued to trade blames over violence.
Not less that two persons have lost their lives and over 30 houses destroyed in a pre-elections violence in some communities in Izzi Local Government Area of the state in the past two days.
The damage allegedly caused by some political thugs have left victims counting their losses while the political parties blame each other for masterminding the ugly incident.
The APC Chairman, Eze Nwachukwu, who claimed his members bore the brunt of the attacks, described it as unprovoked, urging police and other security agencies to intensify surveillance in the state.
Nwachukwu cited the alleged recent attack on the candidate of the party in Ebonyi South Senatorial District, Nweze Onu; attacks on other APC members; and destruction of their houses and property in Izzi LGA as some of the ugly experiences of the party.
He also listed alleged attacks on the home of APC Zonal Publicity Secretary, Chris Ogba, at Ezzama, Ezza South Local Government Area of the State on February 16 as well as on members of the party at Ekoli-Edda.
According to him, there were also attacks and disruption of APC local government rallies by suspected political thugs at Ebonyi, Onitcha and Ohaozara local government areas and destruction of APC campaign office in Ohaozara, among others.
Nwachukwu added: “All these incidents have been duly reported to the Police in the state and we call on the police to ensure that perpetrators are arrested and brought to justice.
“We also call on all our members and supporters to remain resolute, refuse been intimidated as we assure victims of the party’s resolve to bring justice.”
He warned that the party would no longer tolerate any attack on its members while urging the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
In a swift reaction however, the State Chairman of the PDP, Onyekachi Nwebonyi, described the allegations as false, alleging that the APC had been at the forefront of causing crises and attacking PDP members and destroying their campaign materials and other properties across the State.
He lamented that the attack on unsuspecting party members by alleged APC thugs on Sunday left two persons dead, while six others badly injured were receiving treatment in a hospital.
Nebonyi said: “It is not true.
“They are the ones attacking our members.
“I had briefed you on the killing of two persons on Sunday who were attacked by political thugs, while six others were injured.
“PDP has been very peaceful despite the provocations.
“The governor, who is a man of peace, has continued to calm the party faithful down and urging them not to retaliate despite the provocations.”
Nebonyi condemned the attack and urged security agencies to leave no stone unturned in fishing out the perpetrators of the crime.
He added: “I want to use this medium to condemn the wanton destruction of properties and killing of innocent Nigerians all over the nation.
“Of my particular interest is the wanton destruction of properties and killing of innocent Ebonyians in Ebonyi State.
“The opposition in the state are visibly out to instigate violence in Ebonyi State so as to scare voters from coming out to vote.
“I therefore warn them to desist from this act, which is capable of causing unrest in the state.
“Let me also call on the security agencies in the state to immediately wade into investigating these killings and wanton destruction of properties to ensure that these does not escalate.”
Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner in the state, Awosola Awotunde, on Monday in Abakaliki appealed for calm from residents over the attacks allegedly carried out by suspected political thugs in some communities in the state.
Speaking to journalists after his assessment tour of the areas affected by the crises, Awotunde assured that the perpetrators of the dastardly acts, including their sponsors, would be arrested and made to face the music in line with the law.
Sympathizing with the victims, he described the attack as barbaric and man’s inhumanity to man and warned against reprisals.
Awotunde stressed: “We appeal for calm and assure the public that police will spare no efforts in ensuring that everyone who is involved in the dastardly act is brought to book, including their sponsors.
“The police further reassure the public of commitment to protection of lives and property of every citizen of the state before, during and after the elections.”
Donatus Nwofe, one of the victims from Agubata, Agbaja in Izzi LGA, told newsmen that he lost two of his buildings and property worth several millions to the attackers.
Nwofe, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Ebonyi State Council, lamented that the suspected political thugs invaded his compound and shot sporadically before setting the houses ablaze.
He said amidst tears: “I lost everything; even the boxers I am wearing was donated to me by a sympathizer.
“As you can see, no pin was removed from the burnt down houses.
“We now live in fear as no one knows when the hoodlums will attack again with their AK 47 riffles and other weapons.
“I am appealing to police to beef up security in the community and I am also calling on State and Federal Governments to come to the rescue of the victims of the attacks.”
Another victim, Paulinus Onyike, explained that the suspected political thugs from one of the main political parties invaded Ezenyi in Agbaja community and set houses ablaze.
Onyike alleged that the houses attacked mainly belonged to members of the other party.
He added that the suspected political thugs first shot sporadically before setting houses and other valuables ablaze in the area.
Onyike, who described the attacks as barbaric, called for proper investigation and arrest of the perpetrators.