Umahi & Onyike

OBINNA EZUGWU

Former commissioner for information in Ebonyi State and Coordinator, Coalition of Civil Society Groups on the Ebonyi Project, Abia Onyike, has alleged that the state governor, Dave Umahi threatened his life.

Onyike, a staunch critic of Umahi in a statement on Monday, said the state’s Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution, who doubles as Acting Chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Stanley Okoro Emegha threatened to harm him physically and deal with him ruthlessly.

Onyike said the commissioner, whom he noted, works in Umahi’s office, called him on the phone on Monday to accuse him of insulting the governor, and consequently threatened to deal with him.

“I want to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of the general public to the shameless activities of Gov. David Umahi and his aides who have taken to thuggery and intimidation of political opponents, as a strategy to defend their corrupt regime of tyranny and mass deceit in Ebonyi state,” Onyike said.

“Let it be on record that the State Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution, who works in Gov. Umahi’s office, and doubles as Acting Chairman of All PrigreCongress (APC) in the state, Mr Stanley Okoro Emegha has threatened to harm me physically and deal with me ruthlessly.”

Onyike said the threat followed a press release he issued on Sunday announcing plans of his coalition to hold the governor to account.

“You may recall that yesterday, 14th March, 2021, I issued a press release to announce the plans of a Coalition of Civil Society Groups to checkmate Gov. Umahi’s abuse of human rights of citizens, oppression and lawlessness, acts which we considered unbecoming of a democratically elected leader in a democratic dispensation,” he said.

“In the five paragraph press release, the Coalition detailed various elements and dimensions of Gov. Umahi’s misrule in Ebonyi and urged him to turn a new leaf, as the Civil Society Coalition was poised to expose his excesses as a ruthless leader who governs Ebonyi state with impunity.

“This morning at about 7.42 am. Stanley Okoro Emegha called me on his mobile phone and started threatening me. He told me that I was insulting Gov. Umahi and that the time has come to go beyond talking. He told me that I should be prepared for a physical attack if I claim to be strong.

“He threatened to deal with me, saying that I will not live to tell the story. I told him that as a citizen of Nigeria, I have the constitutional right to free speech and to criticize the government, and that my criticism of the administration cannot be said to be an insult on Gov. Umahi. Then he told me that he has finished with me and switched off the phone.

“Arising from the above narrated encounter and knowing Gov. Umahi’s style as a political bully and tyrant, I am not in doubt that he may have instructed his hatchet men to go after me, to get at me and silence me so as to continue in his selfish and self-serving governance of the state without opposition and criticism,” Onyike noted.

“Recall that Gov. Umahi has a dirty history of muzzling dissenting voices through very crude methods. Many journalists who published stories unpalatable to him were hounded and beaten up by his agents even as he threatened to banish them from the state in 2020 before he was forced to drop the idea following massive outcry from the NUJ, Guild of Editors, NBA and nationwide condemnations flowing from several newspaper editorials.

“So Umahi is already well known in Nigeria as a dictator with an uncontrollable degree of elephantine furry, which renders him incapable of offering decent leadership based on dialogue and exchange of ideas. He regards any disagreement as enemity punishable by decimation.

“I, therefore call on security agencies and the general public to hold Gov. Umahi and his surrogate, Mr Stanley Okoro Emegha responsible if anything untoward happens to me.”