The Ebonyi State Peoples Democratic Party contingent going for the party’s governorship campaign rally in Afikpo South Local Government Area of the State was on Thursday allegedly attacked by a mob said to be linked to the All Progressives Congress at Ebunwana axis of the Council area.
The mob, mostly made up of youths, were allegedly sponsored by the APC governorship candidate in the State, Chief Sonni Ogbuorji, who incidentally hails from the same community.
The attack, which led to the injuring of some of the party members as well as damages on their vehicles, also culminated in the destruction of houses and other property, mainly belonging to PDP supporters in the area.
No life, however, was reported lost.
One of the victims, Rt. Hon. Dorothy Obasi, who was a former Deputy Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly and currently the Special Adviser to Governor David Umahi on House of Assembly Matters, narrated that the mob, numbering over 200, attacked them precisely at Okenkwu Ebunwana, the village of the APC gubernatorial candidate, at 9:15am on their way to Nguzu-Edda, venue of the rally.
Obasi, who said she and her colleagues in her vehicle narrowly escaped being lynched by the mob, added that they were still in shock over the whole incident as her car windscreen and parts of the body were broken by the attackers.
She narrated: “It was exactly quarter past nine on our way from my village in Ezi Edda through Owutu, precisely at Okenkwu Ebunwana, where we ran into a mob of APC supporters, over 200 in number.
“They attacked my vehicle with all manner of weapons, throwing stones and pebbles.
“With me were my three sisters and my driver.
“It was a very horrible and terrifying experience; it was only God that saved us.
“When my driver put the vehicle in reverse to gain some space in order to escape, the car, due to anxiety, unfortunately fell into the gutter and we had to make use of our feet to escape.
“As we ran for help, we were surprised that most of the people were unwilling to assist us, probably because the place was the home village of Sonni Ogbuoji, the APC governorship candidate.
“It was one ‘good Samaritan’ who received and hid us in his house until some security operatives passing through came to our rescue
“They beat my driver mercilessly, forcing him to remove his t-shirt bearing the picture and name of the Governor.
“It was in a bid to get the driver with a rod by one of them that they damaged my car windscreen.”
She called on security sgencies to carry out full scale investigation into the matter to bring the culprits to book.
Meanwhile, Governor Umahi had in his speech at the rally declared three indigenes of the area fingered in the crises wanted and directed security agencies to ensure their arrest and prosecution.
Reacting to the incident, the Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict resolution, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, described it as shameful and highly disappointing that such acts of criminality would be allegedly instigated by someone seeking public office.
Ugbala noted that the APC governorship candidate should be held responsible for the breakdown of law and order in the area, being his home town, alleging that the perpetrators of the crime were boys taking orders from him.
Ugbala named the three core culprits fingered in the crime as Ndubuisi Anya, Nnachi Okporie and Junior Ohihia, confirming that the State Government had directed the Police to list them as wanted persons.
He insinuated that the crisis was hatched to stall the PDP governorship campaign rally in the council area but expressed happiness that the event turned out to be a huge success, demonstrating that the PDP was fully on ground.
He maintained that the peace accord earlier signed by the candidates in Ebonyi State completely precludes such acts of lawlessness, but alleged that Ogbuorji unwittingly evaded signing the accord because he had pre-determined to foment trouble.
He further revealed that the leader of the syndicate allegedly hired by the APC to destroy and mutilate PDP billboards, especially few days to President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential campaign visit to the State, has been nabbed by the Police.
According to him, the culprit, simply identified as Jumoh, is a Kogi State indigene residing in the State.
Ugbala, however, warned that elections were not won through venting of anger and frustration on others but on convincing evidence of performance and creditable manifesto and advised the opposition in the State to engage in issues rather than breach of public peace.
Ugbala stressed: “First, let me express a serious disappointment with the activities of some APC members, especially the gubernatorial candidate of APC, Senator Sonni Ogbuorji, because he will be held responsible for everything that happened at his village, Ebunwana, this morning.
“That was a pure case of armed robbery and vandalization of people’s property, including vehicles and houses, destruction of billboards and posters.
“And I cannot associate the act in any way to party politics because one must as a matter of fact separate criminality from party politics.
“Even APC had their campaign in the hometown of the Governor and nobody disrupted them.
“So if PDP wants to have their own rally, it did not call for anybody to arrange criminals, thugs and cultists to come and block the way, vandalizing people’s vehicles and houses, destroying billboards.
“Billboards do not win elections.
“You have to talk to the people, tell them what you will do for them and convince them to vote for you.
“But what we saw today was a demonstration of acts of wickedness, criminality and frustration from the Ogbuorji camp and Ebonyi State Government will stop at nothing to make sure that those who are involved in these acts of wickedness are fished out from the society and treated in line with the law.
“The Governor has declared the culprits wanted and the security agents should ensure that they are made to face appropriate punishment.”
Meanwhile all efforts made by the reporter to get the APC gubernatorial candidate to respond to the allegations before press time, including phone calls, proved abortive.