By Chinwe Imo-Eze Onwosi
Sequel to the attack on the Ivo Local Government Area Chairmanship and Councillorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the recently held council elections, across the state, the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barr. Uchenna Orji, has been Fingered to be behind the attack.
The Ebonyi State chapter of the party alleged that the state Commissioner, Uchenna Orji had hired thugs who attempted to kill the local government chairmanship candidate of the party on July 30, 2022 in IVO LGA.
The state chairman of the party Mr. Tochukwu Okorie, in a statement signed and made available to journalists in Abakaliki on Monday said Orji led scores of hoodlums armed with AK-47 and Pump Action rifles to Council Secretariat at Ishiagu Ivo LGA where PDP members were waiting for the distribution of election materials.
The statement reads, “At about 9 a.m. on Saturday July 30, 2022, the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information Mr. Uchenna Oji led scores of hoodlums all armed with AK-47 and Pump Action rifles to Council Secretariat at Ishiagu Ivo LGA where PDP members were already waiting for the distribution of election materials meant for the conduct of Local Government Council elections organized by Ebonyi State Independent Election Commission.
“These hoodlums arrived in several vehicles and drove straight into the premises while our members were waiting outside the gate. When our members moved to go into the premises, the hoodlums started shooting sporadically, taking aim at our members as they scampered for safety. They chased our people with machetes and pieces of wood and eventually hit the PDP chairmanship candidate Mr. Cornelius Chukwu on the face with a plank narrowly missing his left eye. Another of our members sustained a machete cut on the head while yet another got hit on the knee. All three are currently receiving treatment in different medical facilities. Countless number of others sustained different degrees of injuries ranging from minor to life threatening.
“The People’s Democratic Party Ebonyi State chapter condemns in strong terms the gun attack and wanton violence perpetrated against our members in Ivo LGA by a whole army of thugs loyal to and led by the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information Mr. Uchenna Oji during the LG Council elections of Saturday July 30, 2022. We promise the victims and all the good people of Ebonyi State that we will do everything under the law to bring the perpetrators to book.
“Recall that the PDP had repeatedly said that its participation in the Local Government Council elections would be predicated on the condition that the process leading up to the election would be visibly transparent and in line with the relevant extant laws. It is regrettable to note that the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) was in breach of the rules of suffrage and was anything but transparent in its conduct leading up to the elections. By imposing a participation fee of one million naira (N1’000’000) on candidates, EBSIEC effectively disenfranchised thousands of Ebonyi people who otherwise would have offered themselves for election from the 17 political parties in the state.
“The imposition of a participation fee was designed to exclude those who would not afford the money and ensure that only APC candidates, sponsored by the state government from tax payers’ money would participate in the election. Fully aware of the illegality of this act of extortion by EBSIEC, PDP went into the election refusing to be a part of that illegality. Unfortunately, our candidates in Ivo LGA and a few others had already fallen victim before they could be stopped.
“To complete the illegality of the sham called an election and for fear of losing to PDP, the APC-led state government ensured that election materials were kept either at the LGA secretariat or in the home of one of their members where the ballots were thumb-printed by a few hired thugs. We have compiled tons of pictorial evidence that will be handy.
“Needless, therefore to saying that the PDP will challenge the election and its fraudulent outcome in what avenue the state government may make available for that purpose.
For the avoidance of doubt, Ebonyi State PDP rejects in its entirety the charade that occurred on Saturday, July 30, 2022, in the name of the LGA elections”.I
In his reactions, the state Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Uchenna Orji through his Special Assistant, Nduka Solomon said “attention of Ebonyi State Ministry of Information and State Orientation has been drawn to a publication by one Okoroafor Tochukwu Okorie circulating in social media and containing defamatory allegations against the person and office of Hon Barr Orji Uchenna Orji, Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in the matter of Ivo Local Government Council Election 2022 held on the 30th day of July 2022.
“In the publication, the said Okoroafor Tochukwu Okorie who had long been removed as State Chairman of PDP in Ebonyi State through an order of perpetual injunction by a Court of competent jurisdiction for lying on oath, posed as PDP State Chairman and raised weighty criminal allegations which are nothing but unfounded mendacities of an impostor who compounds the political burden and confusion of PDP in Ebonyi State through self-seeking utterances that have no political value”.