The governorship candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in Enugu State, Barr. Chijioke Edeoga has called on the Enugu State government to stop an avoidable carnage ahead of the March 18 election.
The governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will be held across the country on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
Edeoga, who addressed journalists on Tuesday, spoke on a wide range of issues.
He said the LP had been justified with the recent arrest of some suspected hoodlums in several locations across the state.
According to him, the arrest had vindicated the LP’s earlier claim of alleged plot by the PDP to unleash wide scale violence across the State starting from the eve of the election.
Edeoga said: “Evidences abound of the determination of the PDP to cause trouble in Enugu State. In Isi-Uzo Local Government, a combined team of the military and the police, after due surveillance, swooped on a government guest house, where heavily armed imported mercenaries were arrested.
“They were kept for some time at the Divisional Police office in Ikem, from where they were moved to the State CID.
“Shortly before then, a combined team of Nigeria police, the military and the DSS stormed another hideout in Igbo-Eze North Local Government and arrested heavily armed men; those people have been kept there to begin to fire gunshots on Friday to the election, to cause panic and apprehension.
“Yesterday, the security agencies were also informed of another presence of heavily armed men imported from outside Enugu and kept in a government facility in Agbani.”
He alleged further that it was the scenario in Uzo-Uwani, Ekwegbe in Igbo-Etiti, as well as other locations in the State.
“It is obvious that the council chairmen behind this are acting under instruction from above, which implies that these men are spread in the various 17 LGAs in Enugu State. These matters call for concern,” he stated.
He said he had earlier asked for an audit of the pump action guns approved for forest guards and neighbourhood watch groups in Enugu State, noting that “we have course to believe that the pump action guns recovered from the suspects arrested in Isi-Uzo may be traceable to the pump action guns approved for vigilantes and forest guards.
“We use this forum to ask that an immediate audit be done; a count should be done because we are worried about these developments, these heightened insecurity in the State.
“We also have it in good authority that some other persons in Nsukka LG have been coerced into accepting to work as clearing houses to unleash terror in the Nsukka zone. All these will not happen without the tacit approval of the state government.”
Appeal to Gov. Ugwuanyi
Edeoga then begged the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, “to exit with honour because anything untoward, if there are deaths, if there are injuries, if there are destruction of properties, as the Chief Security Officer, he will be blamed.
“We appeal to him to look at his place in history; it is our wish and hope that history will be kind to him; exit is as important as the point of entry. I hope that his exit from office will not be trailed by avoidable massacre.
“I implore the governor to allow the people of Enugu State to freely choose who will govern them. 2023 is not 2003, the people have become more conscious. The communities are ready to defend their franchise from external invaders or even from homegrown miscreants. It is better for all of us that things go well.”
INEC must not toy with people’s will
The LP candidate equally had some words for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, asking it to save its reputation.
“I also appeal to the INEC, its reputation has been punctured substantially by the controversies that trailed the presidential election; our candidate, His Excellency, Peter Obi is in court and we believe he will reclaim his mandate.
“But before then, we ask INEC to be above board, there are speculations of stratagems aimed at frustrating electoral choices of our people; one of which is that electoral materials will be delayed, with some INEC people working in cahoot with some local council chairman who we understand are providing logistics for evacuation of materials; we don’t want to believe that it is true.
“Enugu people have determined that it is time for change; so INEC should not do anything that will constitute an obstacle to free expression of the will of our people. Any stratagem aimed at delaying the movement of materials to polling units should be resisted; in the reverse order, it is intended to cause problems. If materials arrive late, movement to collation centres will be delayed.
“When materials arrive late at polling units, INEC officials will now claim that because of time, these materials will now move to local government collation centres; the intention of the PDP is that already prepared results will be smuggled in.
“We have enlightened our people to be obedient to the laws of the land; to cast their votes and wait, before then, everyone is enjoyed to make sure that result sheets come to the polling units with the electoral officers, any polling unit officer who has any reason at all not to come with the result sheet should be resisted and seen as an agent of subversion of electoral will.
“No matter whatever time that the voting ends, the votes must be counted at the polling units, results announced there and given to the agents of the parties and the results uploaded. For no reason at all should results not be uploaded, even if it means that people will sleep there till the following day.
“I enjoin all residents to remain resilient; vigilance is the prize of liberty. I ask all voters, all observers to make sure that the right things are done.
“From the polling units, proceed to collation centres; if they say there is no light, everyone should arrange for light; on no account should results move from the collation centres unless they are collated and announced.
“Freedom march will happen in Enugu, on Saturday into Sunday morning, into Monday morning if necessary until the results are announced.”
LP optimistic of victory
Meanwhile, Edeoga, who is certain that the LP will win the election, told Enugu voters to wrestle power through a democratic means from the cabal who he said had fed fat on the resources of the people.
He said the preference for the LP “was expressed in the manner the good people of Enugu State voted during the Presidential/National Assembly election. We all saw the clear outcome where Labour Party won seven out of the 8 House of Reps seats
“Out of the two Senatorial seats, LP won one, while the other one, the matter is already in court, because there was obvious and clear evidence of over-voting.
“The other one, Enugu East, the victory of LP was aborted by the assassination and incineration of the corpse of our Senatorial candidate, Oyibo Chukwu; there was no doubt whether he would have won, that is why pundits link his elimination to the position.
“I urged the good people of Enugu State to come out en-masse and vote for the liberation of our dear State.”