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Hostage story: What Zeb Ejiro failed to tell the world – Chidi Nwokeabia

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By BENJAMIN NJOKU

Although peace has since returned to the Association of Movie Producers,AMP, after two weeks of infighting and accusations, especially in the light of the allegation by the BoT Chairman, Chief Zeb Ejiro that he was held hostage for hours, while the just concluded general election of the body lasted in Asaba, the Delta State capital, a member of the body’s AMPNEC, Mr.Chidi Nwokeabia , has insisted that the record must be put straight immediately despite the new development.

Recall that Ejiro penultimate Saturday, had confirmed that he was held hostage for hours after he refused to endorse the election which held in Asaba on the 29th of August, 2020.

“I don’t want to call it kidnap. I was held hostage for hours,” Ejiro said.

Pointing accusing finger at Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, the Director-General of the National Video and Films Censors Board, NVFCB, as the brain behind his ordeal, Ejiro also accused the AMPNEC members of flouting his orders when he asked them to postpone the election on the strength of a petition by one of the contestants, Mykiel Parish, alleging that AMPNEC was not ready for the election.

But refuting the veteran producer’s claims, in a chat with us, Nwokeabia said that nobody held Ejiro hostage.

Rather, according to him, Ejiro incurred the anger of the members of Delta State chapter of AMP, who came after him for refusing to account for the largesse he received on behalf of the body during their official visit to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State before the commencement of the election.

Nwokeabia narrates: “ A night before the election, Zeb Ejiro alongside Fred Amata, Raph Nwadike, Opa Williams among others were getting ready to visit the new Asaba film village. But Zeb refused to allow the members of the AMPNEC and contestants to join the team. In fact, Peace Anyim-Osigwe was already dressed up for the visit, but she was turned down. After visiting the film village, they went to see Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, and they told him that they were in Asaba for AMP election.”

“At the end of it all, the Governor gave them the sum of N5 million but they declared N2 million, which they shared among themselves. Later that evening, members of Delta State chapter of AMP got angry and revolted, demanding their own share of the largesse.”

“It was Peace, DG of NFVCB, Regina Daniels mother, Paul Obazele and a couple of other AMP members who were in the VIP lounge of Vienna Hotel,Asaba, venue of the election, calming down the aggrieved Delta State members. They said they were not going to leave the hotel until Zeb Ejiro and his accomplices have declared what Governor Ifeanyi Okowa gave to them. But they were later settled. That was what happened. There was never a time anybody held Zeb Ejiro hostage while the election lasted in Asaba.”

Nwokeabia also refuted Ejiro’s claims that the AMPNEC was not ready to organize a free and fair election, hence his resolve not to endorse the Asaba election.

According to him, trouble started when the AMPNEC members refused to postpone the election as instructed by the BoT Chairman following a petition written by one of the presidential candidates, Mykiel Parish, alleging that he was denied access to the authentic list of AMP members, indicating that they were not ready for the election.

He narrates further: “AMPNEC screened all the candidates before the election. We also made the candidates sign an undertaking that they would accept the outcome of the election. More so, we sought and got a confirmation from the immediate past president that they were ready for the election to be held in Asaba on the 29th of August, 2020.”

“ With that assurance, we went down to work and around 9. 35 pm, a letter was delivered to us from one of the candidates, Mykiel Parish, demanding the postponement of the election on the grounds that they didn’t have the list of up-to-date members of AMP. The letter was addressed to the AMPNEC and copied to the BoT and the Board of Patrons. But he didn’t copy the immediate past president. After going through the letter, I suggested to other AMPNEC members that we should find out from the president if he knew about the letter.”

READ ALSO: How Nigerians can monitor results — INEC

“When we contacted him, he was very furious, insisting that the election must go on, that no one would postpone it. Not even after he had paid for the venue and hotel accommodations for the delegates. While we were talking with the president, Zeb Ejiro’s call came in, and he asked us if we received a letter from one of the contestants, demanding postponement of the election. We answered him in the affirmative. Again, he said,’my position is that the election should be postponed’. I responded, ‘No Sir’, adding that we cannot postpone the election on the strength of a letter written by one of the contestants alleging that AMPNEC was not ready for the election.”

“At that point, I said why are you not asking us if we are ready for the election? I told him that if our membership strength is 20 million but only 20 people are up to date members those 20 members are the only people that would be allowed to vote on the election day.”

“That was the assurance we gave to Zeb that made him to give his consent that the election could go on. However, what got him angry the second time, was when he said henceforth, we should be reporting to him. I replied him that I wouldn’t report to him; that if there is anybody we should report to, that would be the president who appointed us. He was visibly angry as he reminded us that the president’s tenure expired since last year and by right, he was not supposed to be called the president of AMP again. I asked him why he allowed the president whose tenure had expired to appoint us and fund the election and all of a sudden, he didn’t want us to be reporting to him again. I said what he was saying did not make sense to me. Those were my exact words. I banged the phone and that was when Zeb drew the battle line.”

However, peace has since returned to the association, as Ms Peace Anyiam Osigwe, MFR, has been endorsed as the authentic President of AMP. The BoT led by Chief Zeb Ejiro, on Thursday, declared that the association had upheld its general election held in Asaba on Saturday, August 29, 2020, which produced Ms Anyiam Osigwe as the new President alongside others.

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