Edda Professionals’ League, a body of eminent experts and professionals of Edda extraction, has vowed to resist any plan aimed at humiliating Chief Abia Onyike, former Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebonyi State.
The EPL announced its plan to scuttle such humiliation in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Ikenna Emewu, on Monday in Abakaliki.
The group described the former Commissioner as one the community’s most illustrious sons that had contributed immensely to the development of Eddaland, describing those behind the plot as “busy bodies.”
The statement noted that some government functionaries, leaders of interest groups and traditional rulers from Edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area of the state were forced to sign a document, where they were plotting to ostracise Onyike.
The group said: “From the findings of the group, after the piece was drafted, some political office holders, traditional rulers and representatives of several interest groups are being cajoled to sign the document.
“The document is purportedly signed on behalf of all Edda people to coerce Onyike, former Commissioner for Information and former Deputy President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, to recant his criticism of the state government or be declared an outcast.
“The position doesn’t represent the stand of the Edda people and must be disregarded as worthless and mere figment of the imagination of those behind it.
“No Edda person has the right in the laws of Nigeria or the traditions of Edda land, to declare anyone an outcast, just for taking a stand opposed to the government.”
The group noted that the statement credited to Onyike was a personal view he canvassed as a free citizen of the state and did not in any way reflect the views of Edda people.
The EPL said: “Onyike’s position on the style of governance in Ebonyi and leadership failure in the state are his personal opinion and does not in any way reflect the generality opinion of Edda people.
“We wonder why an opinion freely expressed in exercise of his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech should be a matter of discuss by some ‘self-styled’ leaders in the community.
“We have it on good authority that some political interests in Edda have banded themselves together to come up with a public statement, that will purport to coerce, compel, cajole and stampede Onyike to tender public apology to the Ebonyi government.
“The said document will also force him to denounce whatever he had at any time said to the media about the government of Gov. Dave Umahi in the state, as a lie.
“We also gathered that the well-orchestrated plot involves not only the traditional rulers, political office holders from Edda, but also has students’ bodies, youth organisation and leaders of political parties, whose signatures are currently being collated.
“We, therefore, wish to alert the public that the alleged plan by the above-mentioned groups to banish, ostracise or exile Onyike as mere grandstanding , which does not reflect the popular opinion in Edda land.”
Emewu noted that the body, as a group of eminent and informed Edda indigenes, was fully aware of the traditional methods through which erring members of the community were being called to order.
He said such methods or measures did not include disowning “our own before the outside world”.
“We state for certain that there has never been a time the Edda clan gathered at Osisioma, Ububa, Atamata or any of the traditional decision taken grounds, to indict Chief Onyike first, as to bring him to public denial,” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Onyike’s travails with the state government started on June 9 when he criticised Governor David Umahi for lack of leadership and under performance during a radio programme, Political Voices, on 92.5 Dream FM, Enugu.
The governor, in a state broadcast on June 11, ordered that Onyike, also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, should be forced to proceed on 14 days quarantine for violating COVID-19 protocol restricting inter-state travels.
NAN also reports that Prof. Benard Odoh, a chieftain of the APC and governorship aspirant in the 2019 gubernatorial election, was threatened with ostracism by traditional rulers from Ezza for publicly criticising Umahi, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, for his government’s alleged anti-people policies.