I welcome you to this press briefing and thank you for finding time to be here. This is essentially a post-mortem of the Saturday, April 30, 2022 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Ward Congress for the election of a three-man ad-hoc delegate in all the 260 Wards, especially as it pertains to the resurgence of thuggery, political violence and banditry in Enugu politics.
Recall that on 16th March 2022, we called your attention to the rising culture of political intolerance and high-handedness in our dear State. We called your attention to the intimidation and harassment of our supporters by agents of state, including the present detention in prison of Paulinus Ugwu, the PDP Ward Chairman for Okpatu and detention and subsequent charge to court of some of our supporters for baseless offences.
In particular, we called the attention of the nation to the appointment of known deadly thugs and cultists into state and local government offices all in the bid to intimidate and stop Distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Recall also that not long after we raised the alarm, our supporters and associates were savagely attacked at the 9th April 2022 monthly meeting of the Aninri Local Government Area Chapter of the PDP. As you could see from footages and pictures, the vicious attack orchestrated by the Council Chairman, Benedeth Ajah and others, left many, including the Member representing Aninri State Constituency, Hon. Chinedu Okwu, seriously injured and hospitalised.
Please note very well that as you could also see and hear from one of the footages, the attackers boasted that they were sponsored by the State and Local Government.
Although we reported this matter to the Governor and security agencies, the trend took yet another dangerous dimension during the 30th April 2022 Ward Congress.
As you could see from the third set of footages, some thugs scaled the fence of the country home of the Director-General of the Ikeoha Campaign Organisation, Hon. Charles Ogbo Asogwa, at Ede Oballa, Nsukka LGA in an attempt to attack him on the same Saturday 30th April 2022.
Thugs and cultists attacked and disrupted an otherwise smooth process at Awgu Ward 2, which is also his Ward. Party faithful, including the Chairman of the PDP in Awgu LGA, Mr. Okey Udeh, were manhandled and their phones confiscated. Cameras deployed to cover the exercise were smashed, while phones belonging to Mr. Udeh and several other victims were also forcefully taken away to conceal evidence of the dastardly act. However, some of our supporters were still able to record their departure as you could see from the footages where some of the victims are asking them why they chose to bring thuggery and cult war to their own community.
At Ugbaike, Enugu Ezike, Igboeze North LGA, an Ekweremadu supporter, Mr. Bertrand Ugwu, was thoroughly assaulted by the personnel of the Enugu State Forest Guard/Neighbourhood Watch, who watched as dangerous weapons, including machetes and broken bottles were used on Mr. Ugwu. Part of the results is the deep cut on his head that you see on the screen.
We are also sure that most of you must have seen the trending video from Agba Umanna Ward, Ezeagu LGA, where someone was freely wielding a pump action riffle at the venue of the Ward Congress.
The primary purpose of government is the security of the lives and property of the people. It therefore beats the imagination that all these political violence have continued unabated, while the security agencies appear complacent.
Recall that our principal and the Number One gubernatorial aspirant in the 2023 Enugu governorship race, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has severally called on the national and state leaderships of the PDP to ensure a free, fair, transparent, and therefore credible process so that the whoever emerges PDP’s flag bearer for any of the positions, be it State House of Assembly, National Assembly, governorship or presidential election will be embraced by all. That way, the PDP will go into the 2023 general election as one big family. Senator Ekweremadu reiterated this call during his April 26, 2022 consultative meeting with the Enugu State executive of the PDP.
The natural question is: Why the violence on otherwise peaceful process by our supporters and the PDP faithful?
Clearly, the attacks were part of the unsuccessful attempts by people, who decided to play against the rule, to scuttle the actual legitimate process. Because they were not prepared for any congress; because they confiscated the result sheets, such that not a single result sheet could be found in any of the 260 Wards of Enugu State; because they were more interested in submitting a prepared list, they attacked our supporters, who came out in their numbers to do the right in line with the Constitution and Guideline of the PDP, they were surprised that PDP faithful trouped out in their numbers to do the right. Despite the attempts to stop them in some places, they still went ahead to exercise their democratic.
Therefore, we believe that much of these acts of violence could have been averted if the state party leadership and the panel dispatched by the PDP national leadership to oversee the process ensured transparency and due compliance with the PDP Constitution and Guideline. Had everyone interested in serving as a delegate and their sponsors and supporters been instructed to go to the field; had the result sheets been made available at the 260 Wards for transparent recording and signing of the results, there would probably not have been any need to try to assault, harass, and intimidate law-abiding party faithful who filed out to the designated venues to do the right thing.
Gentlemen of the press, we make bold to say that although the supporters and associates of Senator Ike Ekweremadu are currently at the receiving end of the resurgence of political thuggery and violence in Enugu State, political banditry remains an illwind that blows no one any good. And those who support this evil, including those who have decided to look away or sit on the fence at this time of moral crisis, should also remember that what goes around will always come around. Besides, no wise man hauls a stone into the market square because he would not be able to determine on whose head it would land.
We, therefore, call on the security agencies to fish out and prosecute all perpetrators of violence in Enugu State, just as we call on all lovers of peace and democracy to join hands to persuade the authorities to take the necessary and decisive steps to arrest this growing culture of political violence, cultism, and banditry to ensure a peaceful primary and 2023 general election in Enugu State. People should never be afraid to politically associate, and they should certainly never associate out of fear.
Lastly, and quite importantly, we join our principal, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a man, whose role in the post-2015 survival of the PDP can be rightly described as pivotal, in calling on the leadership of our party to provide a level playing ground for all. When many, who had benefited immensely from the PDP, abandoned the party; when some who remained feared to openly associate with or defend the party which mandate they hold, Ekweremadu was among the few party leaders that stood up to be counted.
For emphasis, only a free, fair, transparent, and credible process can guarantee that the PDP will come out of the 2023 general election stronger and more viral.
Once again, thank you for coming and God bless.
Hon. Charles Ogbo Asogwa, DG; Dr. Austin Okolie, Director of Manifesto, Ikeoha Campaign Organisation