Why Obi supporters’ rally was disrupted in Ebonyi – Police

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Rallies in support of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, continued on Saturday in major towns and state capitals with his supporters marching through the streets of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State; Owerri, Imo State; Umuahia, Abia State; Awka, Anambra State; Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; and Jos, Plateau State.

 

 



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The police in Ebonyi State, however, dispersed members of the Obidient Movement, who gathered at the Pastoral Centre, Abakaliki, for the one million man march in support of Obi.

One of our correspondents, who was at the takeoff point of the rally, reports that men of the Nigeria Police Force fired teargas canisters at the supporters.

The incident caused both human and vehicular traffic on the Old Enugu Road.

One of the organisers, Steve Ugama, said aside from dispersing the supporters, about five of his colleagues were arrested by the police.

However, the supporters later regrouped in another part of the town and continued with the march.

Reacting to the development, the Special Assistant on Media and Strategy to Governor David Umahi, Chooks Okoh, said he was not aware of the disruption of the rally, adding, however, that the organisers did not pay the required fees to stage the march.

The governor’s aide said in a statement, “The attention of the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State has been drawn to some online publications and rumours making the rounds that he ordered the disruption of a gathering in support of one of the presidential candidates in the 2023 elections. This is not true.

“The Executive Governor of Ebonyi state is certainly not aware of any disruption of any gathering as he didn’t order any. He is a democrat, who believes firmly in the rule of law. He wishes every contending politician the very best and will insist on a level playing ground for all. If it is true that the police dispersed people, the answer will surely rest with the police.’’

The state police command, on its part, said it acted based on the rules of engagement, adding that organisers of the rally did not pay the specific fees as directed by the state government.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Chris Anyanwu, stated this in a statement on Sunday.

The statement read, “Several unfounded allegations of police high-handedness have been renting the air with regards to the one-million-man-rally organised by the Labour Party and other loyalists of the Peter Obi Presidential Campaign in Ebonyi State.

“It is pertinent to put the records straight in spite of all false allegations and the press release from the state government.

“Granted that the organisers of the rally had a brief meeting with the police command authority represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, it was expected that the group should abide by the outcome of the meeting and the requisite conditions given by the state government, which include the payment of a certain amount of money for the use of the stadium as a take-off point as well as another refundable sum of money as a collateral in case of any damage to government property/infrastructure.’’

However, the Coalition of South-East Youths Leaders condemned the attack on the Obi supporters by the police.

In a statement by its President-General, Chief Goodluck Ibem, the coalition demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of all the policemen involved in the dehumanisation of the supporters.

He also demanded that compensation should be paid to all the affected youths, saying the attack was a tyrannical act.

The statement read in part, “The Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the apex socio-political youth group in the South-East geopolitical zone, condemns in strongest terms the unwarranted and unlawful attack with teargas by men of the Nigeria Police Force on supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, known as the Obidient Movement, who gathered at Enugu Road in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State, for a peaceful match in support of their candidate.

‘No law violated’

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has reacted to the disruption of the rally in Ebonyi State on Saturday.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Arabambi, the party said the disruption showed that the All Progressives Congress government had adopted violence and rascality as an official policy in the Nigerian political system.

While comforting the attacked supporters, he condemned the unprovoked attack and also accused the state governor, state police command and the APC of disturbing the peace and well-being of the country without resolving the various security issues across the nation.

Arabambi also told one of our correspondents that the rallies were not the same as the presidential campaign of Obi, stressing that the rallies did not violate the embargo on campaigns by the Electoral Act, 2022, describing them as “fitness walks.”

“It’s just a fitness walk. We are getting fit to defeat the APC in 2023. We are not campaigning and did not violate any law. They were the ones that violated the law by campaigning for votes in an open place during their presidential primary,” he added.

Anambra rally

A coalition of support groups in Anambra State, on Saturday, held a solidarity march in support of Obi.

The supporters marched from the Alex Ekwueme Square, near the state House of Assembly through Aroma to Eke-Awka Road and the U-turn linking Kwata along the Enugu-Awka Expressway and back to the square in Awka.

The rally was organised by the Coalition for Peter Obi in conjunction with about 60 other support groups.

The state Lead Coordinator, CPO, Mr Chidi Nzekwe, while addressing the supporters, said the rally was to sensitise residents to the need to be involved in the electoral process in order to achieve the desired change in the country.

Nzekwe said, “We are using this medium to sensitise the people to the need to get their Permanent Voter Cards and be well mobilised concerning voting in the 2023 general elections.

Bayelsa supporters

There was heavy gridlock in Yenagoa on Saturday as supporters of Obi in Bayelsa State embarked on a ‘one-million-man health/fitness walk’ for the Labour Party presidential candidate along the Mbiama-Yenagoa Road.

The supporters wore T-shirts and fez caps branded with the pictures of Obi and his running, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, brandishing the Labour Party flags and fliers, while dancing to music and singing solitary songs.

The walk started at the Etegwe/Edepie roundabout and terminated first at the Samson Siasia Sport Complex, and later proceeded to the Ox-Bow Lake area.

Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Security were on hand to maintain law and order during the rally.

The state Chairman of the Labour Party, Eneyi Zidongha, said the massive turnout was an indication that Nigerians had become wiser and decided not to give opportunities to politicians who would destroy their future.

He said that citizens had confidence in Obi and were ready to take back their country from those who had over the years been recycling themselves, family members and cronies in power.

Supporters storm Abia

Umuahia, the Abia State capital was on Saturday morning brought to a standstill by a mega rally by the supporters of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.

The massive turnout of supporters, under the aegis of the Obedient Movement, overwhelmed the Umuahia metropolis.

The rally that started at the Abia Tower of Peace around 6.30am saw the crowd trek through the major roads in the city, including the Okpara Square, Government House and the popular Is Gate.

Singing solidarity songs and carrying placards with various inscriptions, members of the group shouted, “We want Obi,” “We don’t share money,” “Be obedient, vote for Peter Obi,” and “Do the right thing, vote for Peter Obi,” among others.

 Imo youths march

In Owerri, the capital of Imo State, youths, members of the informal sector and the physically challenged on Saturday marched in solidarity for Obi.

The event tagged, ‘Owerri Unity Rally’, saw supporters marching round the state capital.

The participants took off from the popular Warehouse junction and marched through the streets of Owerri, causing gridlock in the process.

The participants sang and danced in a show of public support for the LP presidential candidate.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards displayed by the supporters include, ‘We are Obident, we no dey give shishi’, ‘We are the structures’, ‘It is Obi-Datti 2023’, and ‘Nigerians need Obi in 2023’.

The supporters insisted that the ruling APC and the Peoples Democratic Party had ruined the country.

The state Coordinator of the Coalition for Peter Obi, Viginus Anukanti, said the rally was a demonstration of the people’s support for the LP presidential candidate.

Plateau groups march

Scores of supporters of the LP presidential candidate from over 30 different groups, including the Fulani, on Saturday staged a rally in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

During the rally, the General Overseer of the Evangelical Christian Outreach Ministries International, Prophet Isa El-Buba, declared his support for Obi and urged all other candidates not to seek his support again.

He stated, “From today onward, I have shut my office to all other presidential candidates; I am for Peter Obi, because I am supporting justice and equity for all.

“We must ensure that corrupt politicians are not allowed to rule us again. We will deploy our talents, time and resources to ensure that Peter Obi becomes President of Nigeria come 2023.”

Earlier, the national leader of the IBBN, Rev Haruna Maidoki, in an address said the coalition was willing to support the LP to victory.

He urged all Nigerians to bury personal sentiments and support Obi to restore the economy.

Also, national leader of Fulani Support Group for Peter Obi, Alhaji Useni Musa, who led his members during the walk, said they were determined to have a positive political change through the LP and prayed for Obi’s success. [Punch]


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