A Civil-Society Coalition, made up of Human Rights Organizations, Labour/Professional Unions and Student Movements in Ebonyi State, said it has signed up to come together and use all legal and legitimate means to checkmate what it called “Gov. David Umahi’s abuse of human rights, oppression and lawlessness in Ebonyi state.”
The group in a statement titled, Gov Umahi’s civilian dictatorship in Ebonyi State, time to check his excesses,” accused the governor of corruption and punishment of state workers, noting that “plans have reached an advanced stage to commence an organised opposition and containment against Governor David Umahi’s deceitful/hydra-headed and monstrous anti-democratic regime of impunity in Ebonyi state.”
The statement signed by the coordinator of the group, Abia Onyike, alleged that “Umahi is known to have used his high office to abuse the social and economic rights of all categories of public sector workers in Ebonyi state. The coalition will expose the untold atrocities of Gov. Umahi and let all Nigerians know that he is running a slave camp in Ebonyi state.”
The statement continued, “He has held on to the gratuities of retired civil servants since he came into office six years ago. Workers in the state civil service are denied promotions and when they are promoted, the financial benefits are seized by the orders of Umahi. He has no respect to the statutory rights of public and retired officers. Umahi’s extreme wickedness and callousness has caused the instalmental but silent deaths of many of these officers who were forced to starve untill they passed away.
“The Civil Society Coalition has investigated Gov. Umahi’s subterranean infiltration into opposition political parties, the bullying of his critics and the intimidation of the Judiciary/Judiciary staff which manifested in the recent interrogation of a Magistrate in the State Judiciary for granting bail to an official of an opposition political party. Umahi must drop his secret and open sponsorship of political hirelings to undermine rival political parties in the state. It is an act of political criminality for democratically elected leaders to spend public funds to undermine the legitimate existence of opposition political parties in a democratic society.
“A former American President, Richard Nixon was humiliated and forced to resign from office on account of his meddling into the affairs of the opposition party in order to secure an electoral gain. American citizens viewed his actions with disdain and Nixon had to pay a heavy price in the celebrated Watergate scandal. Umahi’s penchant for creating crisis in opposition parties,(an ignoble act which he himself voices, acknowledges and even boasts about) is a sign of his political bankruptcy. Recall that Gov. Umahi sometime in 2020 stated openly that he will sponsor crisis in the opposition party and while the crisis persists, he will be sipping his Champagne. These are the issues the Civil Society Coalition will deal with because Umahi must be made answer to certain ethical and moral questions as a leader in a democratic dispensation. The Coalition will drag him to the Court of Public Opinion to checkmate his excesses so that he doesn’t get away with the impression that he presided over a banana republic.
“The Civil Society Coalition would invoke the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to compell Gov. Umahi to give account of his stewardship in Ebonyi state. Ebonyians would like to know the amount spent in the execution of every project in the state. Citizens would and should be encouraged to ask relevant questions about how their collective patrimony was being deployed. Gov. Umahi should answer questions about the mystery behind certain projects. Why is it that the Shopping Mall cannot be completed in six years? Again why is it that the Presidential Lodge in Ochudo cannot be completed.
“Explanations to these questions are petinent because tongues are wagging. Some people are of the view that the aforementioned projects are nothing but conduit pipes for siphoning public funds into private pockets. They argue that the Mall was not conceived as a project to be completed because even as at today, Umahi does not know what to do with it after over N6 billion may have been invested into it.
“Moreover, it is very strange how a wretched state like Ebonyi was railroaded into such a capital intensive project, whereas the ShopRite in Enugu was finance by South African private sector investors. Gov. Umahi should also respond to allegations that he has converted Ebonyi state business into his private trading companies. Why should an elected public officer allow his businesses to be run in such a manner that his interests are promoted and protected with the use of his official powers? Is that ethical? Umahi’s filling stations which are hardly patronized by Abakaliki residents have been imposed as the official supplier of fuel and gas to the State Government on a retainership basis while other competitors in that sector are totally excluded. Secondly, Umahi promptly closed down the state government owned hotels after his inauguration in 2015 and diverted all VIPs visiting the state to his personal hotel- Osborne La Palm, where he pays himself from government coffers. What type of government is that?
“The Civil Society Coalition has investigated some of Gov. Umahi’s falsehood in order to debunk them for the political education and mobilisation of the masses whom he has impoverished in the last six years of his tragic and painful administration. In an attempt to cover up the sources of his sudden personal financial and material triumphalism, Umahi boasted to Abakaliki traders that he became a billionaire at 25. But that was a very fat lie. Umahi says he was born in 1963, which means that he turned 25 in 1988. At that time, he was still a student at the Anambra State University of Science and Technology (ASUTECH). He later graduated and went into oblivion and remained an unknown quantity until 2006 when he was brought into Ebonyi state from Port Harcourt.
“The former Deputy Governor of the state, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu brought him to do some contracts. Later on he betrayed Ogbu by refusing to support Ogbu’s governorship bid. Overnight, he joined the camp of Obinna Ogba( now a Senator), who was running for the Guber primaries in PDP and positioned himself to be Ogba’s deputy. When eventually Ogba didn’t make it, he quickly switched over to the camp of former Governor, Chief Marin Elechi who won the primaries. Note that when he came in 2006, the self-proclaimed billionaire was sleeping at Brass Filling station, along Ogoja Road, opposite a popular restaurant.
” In the election proper in 2007, Umahi manifested his anarchic tendency by insisting that former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu of ANPP who was Elechi’s opponent must be made to fail the election in his Uburu community where both of them come from. Then the youths of Uburu resisted him and at the end of the fracas, his properties( houses, hotel and filling station) were burnt and he alongside his supporters ran into temporary assylum. It was on that based that Elechi saw Umahi as a great man and made him the state Chairman of PDP.
” That was the origin of the castration of Ebonyi state and its subsequent destruction. So Umahi’s billions only came between 2009-2010 when as the State Chairman of PDP, he was awarded the contract for the reconstruction of the Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway (from PDP State Secretariat to Onuebonyi River) at the cost of #3.8 billion. He did a very shabby job and the bridge at the centre of that road stretch is always developing faults. The rest is now history.
“The Coalion of Civil Society groups has commenced investigation into allegations of massive looting of Ebonyi treasury by Gov. Umahi and his surrogates. In January this year, the photograph of a multi-story five-star hotel allegedly owned by Gov. Umahi was widely circulated in the media. The property located along Abacha Road in PH GRA was estimated to have cost over N40 billion. The Governor has not reacted to that. After that, a Magazine known as the Gazzette published details of alleged money laundering involving Umahi and his business concerns beginning from when he was the deputy Governor of Ebonyi state. Umahi threatened fire and brimstone.
“The Civil Society Coalition will not be deterred by Gov. Umahi’s acts of intimidation. If he does not want criticism, let him do the right things. If he cannot do the right things, let him resign and say good-bye to public office.”