Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Chuks Nweze in Enugu examines the accusations and counter accusations of violence by differing political parties against one another in the state and wondered what would become of the 2023 general elections 

The foundation for peace 

It was the former president of Nigeria, Dr. Good luck Jonathan who made the assertion in 2019 that his ambition to continue to be the President was not so important as to waste anybody’s blood.  

He made the statement knowing that the APC presidential candidate then, now President Muhammadu Buhari had sworn that “baboons and monkeys,” would soak in blood should he fail the third time to emerge as president.  

That is the spirit of a peaceful democracy as he accepted defeat and did not even care to go to court to challenge the results.

In the 1990’s, the late presidential candidate of the defunct Great Nigerian Peoples Party (GNPP), Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, played politics of no bitterness as his campaigns were based on issues instead of violence or character assassination.  

Alhaji Ibrahim made peace the philosophy of his political life while he lived which endeared him to many who felt that that was what politics should be.

So, to ensure that the 2023 general election is not marred by bitterness, rancour and acrimony, the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) mandated the presidential candidates to establish an understanding that they would ensure that the election would be free and fair, devoid any violence.

The Enugu scenario

This has become important because of recent happenings in Enugu state where party meetings are being disrupted by violence occasioned by men who have come to be known as unknown gunmen.

Particularly, the Labour Party seems to have suffered the most violence as their gatherings were often disrupted by the said unknown gunmen who not only shoot sporadically but also destroy chairs, tables and canopies to scare away party faithful.

LP accuses PDP as masterminds 

The attacks at a stage became too much that the LP chairman in Enugu state, Barr. Casmir Agbo, pointedly accused the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of being the mastermind of the violence.  

Agbo told newsmen that he was ready to expose those behind the many attacks on his party. He said that when police invited him, he did not mince words but accused PDP of being the brain behind the attacks.  

The LP chairman said, “it is quite unfortunate, very uncalled for.  Enugu state used to be a peaceful state but now what is happening is really very annoying that we are attacking ourselves. We are all brothers and sisters and it is quite unfortunate that PDP Enugu state is the architect of violence in Enugu state.

“Let us drum it into their ears. We are eighteen in number. Accord is not attacking us, Allied Movement is not attacking us and others are not attacking us, it is only PDP that is jittery because they are going to lose power.  They held a meeting in the house of Ifeanyi Ossai where they said that they are going to attack Labour. They attacked Labour in Aninri, in Awgu and Ngwo Uno and Oji.  

“In Ngwo Uno, they called the chairman of Ngwo Uno where they told him that he should not hold meeting on Saturday otherwise they will kill him.  The number that called the chairman is here. I gave the number to the police. I gave the number to DSS. I told the police this morning that they should call them to order.  

“So the point is that the attacks on Labour Party is orchestrated by PDP.  The chairman of Awgu, Pedro should be held responsible if anybody dies. He should be held responsible; he should be arrested.  They should arrest him and prosecute him for murder.  The chairman of Aninri, the same.

“We are saying these things; I am the chairman of Labour Party in Enugu state and I have to protect my members and Enugu state because the shooting of guns, if it goes nobody will know who it will touch. So, PDP is responsible for attacks on Labour Party in Enugu

state, not unknown gunmen, not IPOB.  They don’t know anything about this.

“Let the story go viral. I have video on it.  If you want, I’ll show you the video,” Agbo accuses.

However, apart from his accusation, it is believed in some quarters in the state that it is unknown gunmen who do not believe in holding election in Igboland that are behind the attacks but there is no tangible proof to verify this claim.

PDP victim of violence 

Coincidentally, the PDP too had suffered from the orgy of violent activities in Enugu state. At one of its meetings in the Enugu South Local Government Area, the daredevils stormed and invaded the venue, equally dispersing the party faithful and in the melee, a youth leader of the party was shot dead.

The palpable fear in the horizon is that if care is not taken, the 2023 election may witness upheavals because of the ongoing war of attrition in the social media battle between the supporters of PDP and LP.  

The media hawks, so to say, have often used available spaces to either attack the governorship candidate of Labour Party, Barr. Chijioke Edeoga or that of the PDP, Barr. Peter Mbah.

It is commonplace to see party henchmen use the services of Facebook, WhatsApp groups,  and other social media outfits to hull insults and innuendos at one of the candidates or the other party, using both real and fictitious names as the authors of such acrid character assassination write ups.

In one of the social platforms, PDP and Peter Mbah’s media handlers, are using a pseudonym to perpetrate their mischief. For instance, Chinedu Adonu wrote a scathing article against Hon. Chijoke Edeoga, the LP governorship candidate accusing him of being power hungry and seeking power by all means.

“Chijoke Edeoga who parades himself as the governorship candidate of Labour Party in Enugu state is desperately in search of validation and seeks it with mad cravings, using attacks, villification, threats, propaganda and blackmail.

“In any case, no one is surprised.  This has been Chijoke Edeoga politics as seen during the build up to PDP primaries. Then Chijoke would sponsor dirty calumniation against perceived opponents in the race,” the lacerating write up posits among other things.

Such has been the attacks on both sides that one Oko Anike Oko, in a rejoinder to the attack on Edeoga, defended Edeoga and accused PDP and the PDP governorship candidate, Barr. Peter Mbah of trying to tar-brush Edeoga who he believed is the man to beat in the forthcoming governorship election, come 2023.

The said Ok Anike Oko in defense of Edeoga had this as a rejoinder.  “On Thursday 4th August, 2022, Hon Chijoke Jonathan Edeoga emerged the Enugu State governorship candidate of Labour Party at the party’s primary election at Top Ten Hotel, Golf Estate, GRA, Enugu.

“Since then, he has been the target of a propaganda blitzkrieg and a cocktail of media quackery. The latest is the article titled: Chijoke Edeoga: sinking ambition and mad crave for validation.  This was credited to one journalist that claimed to be from Aninri but we know that it is a fictitious name.

“The governorship campaign is yet to formally commence yet the amount of mud already hurled at Edeoga is enough to build Babylon afresh from the allurial deposit of Tigris and Euphrates.

“Why? Edeoga is the nemesis of Peter Mbah and PDP in Enugu State.  Where ever Mbah turns to, from spiritual counselors to political strategists, Peter Mbah keeps getting one message:  Chijoke Edeoga is ahead.”

Mbah sues for peace

Not oblivious of the missiles flying on the social media and the open attacks of party faithful, the Enugu State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate, Barr. Peter Mbah recently advised his supporters and members of the party to adopt a conciliatory and tolerant approach in order to accommodate opposing views ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general elections. 

Mbah made the appeal on Friday while receiving a delegation from his  Ashishi Owo hometown who paid him a courtesy visit, stressing that the election period should be managed to avoid violence and escalation of tension. 

He insisted that politics should not be seen as a do-or-die affair.  The oil and gas mogul said that it was the responsibility of his supporters to douse tension and preach peace even where they had been provoked.

“As owners of this project, we need to ensure peace and shun violence in all its forms. We must forgive those that offended us and live by example as people of peace. Wherever there is tension, it’s our duty to douse it. 

“This is not time to fight anybody no matter the provocation. We should be conciliatory in all we do for the spirit of love and peace,” the he said.

Maintaining that the forthcoming elections should be about the good of the people, Mbah further enjoined his supporters to take the message of forgiveness and peace to the nooks and crannies of the state. He appealed to them to work towards a greater tomorrow.

“Let us forgive and reconcile with others. Take the message down to every house. It’s only through peace that we can achieve a greater tomorrow,” he added.

Resurgence of violence 

Even with the plea being made by Mbah for his supporters to eschew violence and preach peace instead, supporters of Labour Party alleged that it is clear that some people are bent on ensuring that the Labour Party candidate, Edeoga does not smell the Government House, come 2023.  

They cited that at the Edeoga reception in his country home, Eha Amufu, Isi-Uzo local government area of the state, the party was denied entry in any of the public places and had to be accommodated by the Anglican Church which gave them their facility for the civic reception.  

The party alleged that the Enugu state government gave order that neither Edeoga nor the Labour Party should be allowed to use any of the public places in Eha Amufu. 

That smacked of violence against  peaceful electioneering process that Mbah pleaded to allow for a harmonious co-existence with the opposition political parties.

Many residents of Enugu agree that Mbah’s plea to ensure a peaceful electioneering should be taken seriously because in 2019, somebody was shot dead in broad daylight very close to Senator Ayogu Eze’s house at Umuida, Igbo-Eze North local government area.  Eze was the then governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC). 

The action cast a pall on the state then known hitherto as a peaceful state. So, to eschew a repeat of such ugly incident, the call made by Mbah for a peaceful electioneering should be adhered to the core.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi once declared Enugu as a state that has been handed to God. The implication is that a state in the hands of God ought not to take to violence especially as the 2023 polls draws near.

This is in consonance with the plea of PDP governorship hopeful Mbah.

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