BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI
Many members of the Labour Party in Ebonyi State have been reported injured following an attack on the party’s rally venue by gunmen in the state.
The incident, according to Labour Party’s state house of Assembly candidate for Ohaozara East, David Ogbonna, happened in Okposi, Ohaozara local government area of the state over the weekend and left three persons with bullet wounds, others with various degrees of injuries and loss of many valuables.
The gunmen, the party alleged, were members of Ebonyi Command of Ebubeagu South East security outfit.
Ebubeagu is a security outfit in the South East that is backed by the Ebonyi State Government and other state governments in the region.
Ogbonna alleged that the gunmen were led by the Chairman of Ohaozara local government area, Consider Ajah.
In a statement issued on Monday, Ogbonna further narrated how the gunmen invaded the meeting venue and called on the Federal Government to call on the state governor, David Umahi, to allow level playing ground for all political parties in the state.
He wrote: “Yesterday, as Labour party faithful gathered at our (Labour Party) office at Mgbom-Okposi, waiting for the arrival of the Labour Party candidate for Ohaozara/ Onicha/Ivo federal constituency – Nkemkanma Kama, the men of Ebubeagu Security Network led by Ohaozara Local Government Chairman invaded the venue.
“As they entered the venue, our campaign office, our supporters on the road waiting for our arrival erroneously thought we were the ones possibly because of the exotic car of the Local Government Chairman, they rushed to warmly welcome ‘us’ only to meet young men numbering over 40 wielding all kinds of automatic guns who came down from the fully loaded Toyota Hiace Bus and Sienna buses and opened fire on the innocent people.”
He said they shot at the people and chased both men and women at the venue and made efforts to apprehend as many as they could.
Ogbonna said three persons have so far been confirmed shot on their legs; one had his femur (bone of the thigh) shattered and had been transferred to an Orthopedic Centre.
“As at this early hour of 14th November 2022, three of our supporters from Uburu who came with the Labour Party Candidate of Ohaozara West are yet to be home and their phones have not been reached.
“We are yet to establish a contact with the Personal Assistant (PA) of the Labour Party Candidate for Ohaozara East Constituency. His phone has not been reachable since he ran away from the event venue yesterday.
“Two of our supporters from Ugwulangwu are yet to be home and their phones are not reachable.
Six women supporters from Ugwulangwu and one of our women leaders from Okposi who ran for their lives yesterday in the process lost their handbags containing phones, other valuables, and some cash.
“The woman supporter from Okposi who was pursued, fell head-down on her way to safety and has remained unconscious. However, Doctors confirmed she’s still alive. All canopies, tables and unnumbered chairs at the venue were badly damaged
“The music box (speakers) of the DJ was shot at by the Ebubeagu, damaging them near-irreparably and even confiscating some of his equipment.
The drums of the cultural women dancers from Afikpo were destroyed and some seized.
“The drum boxes of the drummers who were on the road waiting for our arrival were destroyed and drummers beaten mercilessly. As of yesterday night, three of our boys’ supporters from Ugwulangwu reported that men of Ebubeagu visited their compounds asking after them. As we write now, they have relocated out the community for fear of their lives,” he said.
In a swift reaction, the Onicha local government Council Chairman, Consider Ajah, denied leading an attack on the Labour Party supporters.
He, however, admitted that Ebubeagu officials went to the area to stop the people gathered there from blocking the road, which is a federal highway.
“We did not attack anybody. They were blocking the road which is a federal highway and we had to intervene to prevent them from disrupting people’s movement.”
Ajah further noted that the organisers did not get approval from the local government before holding the rally.
“We have a law that before you hold any form of gathering you must get approval from the local government for security purposes. But they did not do that.
“We have no interest in what any other party is doing but they should do the right thing at all times,” he said.
Ajah’s reaction conflicts with that of the Commander of Ebubeagu, Nnanna Friday, who vehemently denied that Ebubeagu was in the area.
“We did not attack anybody. They should stop mentioning Ebubeagu every time they have problems among themselves. They may have been attacked by their fellow members who they may have had a disagreement with and they now turn around and blame it on Ebubeagu.
“They did the same thing recently in Izzi and we later discovered that they were attacked by their members,” he said.
Police spokesperson in the State, Chris Anyanwu said he was not aware of the incident.