By Anayo Okoli
THE South East Zonal leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has rejected the allegation by the Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, that some of its leaders in the state were cultists and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and dismissed as a bait to incite security operatives against them.
In his maiden press briefing after he was ratified as the acting National Vice Chairman of the party in the South East, Chief Ali Odefa described as “alarming and unfounded”, the allegation by governor Umahi and wondered when these people who have been his pillars of support became devil the governor was painting them before the world.
“It is worrisome that a Governor of a state who is supposedly the Chief Security Officer of the state will blatantly threaten that “lives” of citizens of his own state “will be lost,” even when there is no aggression to suggest a war in the state”, Odefa lamented.
Speaking at the party’s zonal office in Enugu, the acting vice chairman said “we at the PDP particularly note with serious concern the specific listing of our party leaders, Including their excellencies, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, former President of the Senate and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Senator Sam Ominyi Egwu, the first Executive Governor of Ebonyi state, and lawmaker representing Ebonyi North Senatorial district in the Senate; Senator Obinna Ogba, the lawmaker representing Ebonyi Central Senatorial District in the Senate and Hon. Ali Odefa, the National Vice Chairman, Southeast of the Peoples Democratic Party, and many other leaders of our party whom by governor Umahi’s utterances he may have already marked for attack in Ebonyi State”.
continuing, Odefa said: “It is important to draw the attention of the Nigerian public to the fact that the false alarm raised by Governor Umahi is totally baseless as there is no political crisis in Ebonyi state, there is no immediate election contest in Ebonyi state, in fact, there is no situation that warrants the kind of threat he issued in Ebonyi State
“It is a common knowledge that Governor Umahi and his family remain the major beneficiaries of the support of the PDP and these same PDP leaders whom he has suddenly branded promoters of cultists in Ebonyi; each of these leaders played prominent roles in making Umahi a successful politician and Governor of Ebonyi state.
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“In Ebonyi State, the residents know exactly those who promote cultism; it is important to bring to the notice of the public that in the last few months some key functionaries of Governor Umahi’s government have (allegedly) been involved in murder cases in Ebonyi state and are currently in detention. While one is still being investigated by the police the second one is already being tried in the court.
“For the Records, Chief Umahi until he jumped ship to the APC became everything he is in Ebonyi cum Nigeria politics in PDP, while his two brothers, Mr. Austin Umahi and Maxwell Umahi were Zonal Chairman and deputy State Chairman of the PDP respectively”, the party said.
Further describing the allegations as “unfounded and infantile”, Odefa said “the questions the world should be asking Umahi is at what point did he realize that I, Chief Ali Odefa and other leaders he so maligned with his baseless allegation were promoters of IPOB and cultists?
“Could it have been in 2007 when I started working closely with him, first as Special Assistant while he was the Chairman of the PDP, Ebonyi state or during the well known struggle to make him a governor in 2014/2015 election season? Or could it have been at the inception of his government in 2015 when I served in his government as the SSA Internal Security? Or Perhaps between 2016 and early 2020 when I served as the SSA Infrastructural Maintenance in his government?”.
Accusing Umahi of hatching what he called “sinister scheme” to embark on “a massive political witch-hunt in Ebonyi state with leaders of the PDP being his primary targets”, the party called on the security operatives to be at alert, saying that pockets of attacks have already been recorded in the state.
“It is important to let the entire world and specifically, Governor Umahi know that the PDP has since moved on, after his lone wolf decamping from our great party to his new party the APC and we happily urge him to move on and focus on playing his politics in the APC. It is not possible for him to be in the APC and run the affairs of the PDP in Ebonyi state. We will deploy every legal arsenal to protect the sovereignty of our party, the PDP from meddlesome interlopers.
“The PDP is a firm believer in the freedom of choice of individuals. We therefore, urge Governor Umahi to “live and let live” in Ebonyi state, as we strongly call on him to abandon his evil plans of labeling our supporters “cultists” and “IPOB” as a bait to incite security agencies against our members. There is no justification for this evil plan.
“We in the PDP are aware of the despotic tendencies of Governor Umahi to clamp down on dissenting voices, we therefore, would urge him to thread with caution as we are resolved as equal stakeholders in the affairs of Ebonyi state to continue to work for the progress of the state.
“We are therefore, using this medium to call on various security agencies in Ebonyi State to take note and ensure that the lives of these prominent Nigerians with track record of patriotic service to the Nigerian nation and Ebonyi state in particular are protected from the marauding foot soldiers of the governor who will stop at nothing to satisfy their pay master”, Odefa said.