Four months to the 2023 general elections, high scale violence has taken over the political landscape in Nigeria.
Ebonyi, Zamfara and Kaduna States are the epicenter of violence against opposition political parties. The trio are all All Progressives Congress, APC, governed States.
These are happening in spite of the peace accord signed by all the presidential candidates in Abuja, the nation’s capital, under the watchful eyes of the National Peace Committee (NPC) co-led by former Head of State, General Abudulsami Abubakar; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar II; Cardinal John Onayeikan; Bishop Hassan Kukah and other eminent statesmen with the objective of supporting efforts at ensuring free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
The APC Presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu was represented during the accord signing by his running mate, Kashim Shettima.
Many Nigerians are already worried that the situation could worsen as the elections draw near and may eventually threaten the credibility of the polls.
Ebonyi State, South-East Nigeria is currently a theatre of the absurd. The State has been peaceful until November 2020 when the State Governor, David Umahi announced his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Governor, though adjudged as one of the best performing Governors in the country in terms of infrastructure, is being accused of doing everything to suppress and silence every opposition, including members of the his former party, PDP.
There is tension in the State known as Salt of the Nation, with the government-owned Ebubeagu security operatives in the centre of the storm.
Opposition politicians in the State say the Ebubeagu operatives rather than go after killer herdsmen and other criminal elements, the main reason they were formed by the South-East Governors, they have become notorious for hunting and hurting anyone opposed to the Governor.
The members of the Peter Obi support group, popularly known as ‘Obedients’ have not been spared either. The popular one-million man march being organized the group has been sailing until smoothly until it got to the turn of Ebonyi State.
Reports show that Ebonyi was the first State in the entire country where the Obidients were first attacked and tear-gassed, with the State Government coming out to say they refused to pay for a venue for their rally.
However, just early this week, Ebonyi started boiling again with the reported abduction of Mr. Linus Okorie, the Labour Party Senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South, Umahi’s zone.
Okorie, a former member of the House of Representatives, was whisked away by the Ebubeagu security operatives.
As uproar grew, he was handed over to the police, who said he ex-lawmaker had been on wanted list. But the manner of his arrest has drawn the ire of the members of the public, including civil society organizations.
First to react were some women and youths from his community, who barricaded roads leading in and out of Onicha community.
The protesters carried placards with the following inscriptions; “No movement until we see Hon. Linus. Onicha will be too hot for everybody.”
In a swift reaction, the Commissioner of Police, Ebonyi State command, CP Aliyu Garba, acknowledged Okorie’s arrest.
Garba, in a statement signed and issued to newsmen in Abakaliki by the PPRO, Chris Anyanwu, said: “It is also pertinent to mention that Linus Abaa Okorie has a pending case in which he is implicated in a drug-related offence, where the suspects purported to be his agents were arrested for hard drug sales and use at his City Hub Inn, Mile 50, Abakaliki. Case was later transferred to the NDLEA for further necessary actions.”
The State government also reacted through the Commissioner of Information and State Orientation, Mr Uchenna Orji, declaring that Okorie is currently cooling-off at the police net to answer for the various crimes he (Okorie) committed.
He accused the ex-lawmaker of circulating fake news and harbouring illicit drug traffickers in his club facility.
According to him: “Okorie was arrested in connection with serial crimes allegedly committed by him and the complicity of his club facility – the City Hub in promoting sundry crimes especially in peddling hard drugs and other illicit substances.”
Governor Umahi also exonerated Ebubeagu security operatives of having a hand in the purported torture and abduction of Okorie, saying the Ebubeagu operatives are trained and have the right by law to arrest any erring person in the society.
As of the time of this report, Okorie has been charged to court and remanded in Correctional Centre. He was arraigned in court on a five count-charge, bordering on fake news, murder, harbouring drug traffickers and two other charges.
Prior to Okorie’s arrest saga, Mrs. Ann Agom-Eze, who is laying claim to the APC Senatorial ticket for the zone, has also been crying out over threat to her life.
Agom-Eze and Umahi are in a fierce battle over who is the rightful candidate of the party, especially as Umahi was still seeking the presidential ticket of the party long before the senatorial primary was held.