A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State and aspirant for the 2019 guber elections of the party has fingered the Cross River State Government after members of the National Youth Council of Nigeria attacked the party’s secretariat in Obudu which was hosting his declaration rally.
Mr. Ikem had told CrossRiverWatch that he was consulting to contest and will declare when the time was right.
And on Friday, February 2, 2018 Mr. Ikem is said to have assembled thousands of supporters at the APC secretariat in Obudu and was about addressing them when they were attacked by youths whom Mr. Ikem has fingered to have been sponsored by the Chief of Staff to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River, Mr. Martins Orim.
Mr. Ikem did not take calls to his phone on Friday afternoon and text messages were also not replied. But, a statement obtained by CrossRiverWatch claimed that three of the “attackers” were shot.
The statement read: “I can only urge our supporters to remain calm no matter the provocation. Only the guilty who have blood on their hands will be caught in such violence. The police shot 3 of the attackers, all those the state sponsored, with a 300,000 Naira donation by the chief of staff to the governor.
“What happened at Obudu yesterday was a study in shame and APC at the highest level has decided and will take up the matter. Those who say they were not PDP thugs should not be in a hurry because we have evidence with everybody in various video clips that have been sent to Police HQ. Everybody will hear from the police soon.
“I urge our teeming APC supporters once again to continue to show maturity and courage under fire and most importantly refrain from retaliating with violence. We aspire to lead and we will not allow them to drag us to their level. The truth is in the process of being unveiled.
“The plans of the Governor to use violence to remain in office beyond 2019 are being practiced and we are happy that God has used the Obudu APC once again to expose those plans in time.
“This is the 3rd such attack on APC at Obudu while conducting their internal party activities. I believe the party is taking notes that will be useful in planning against such dastardly acts in the forthcoming general elections.
“To my brothers in PDP, I urge you to see clearly that Ayade has lost any semblance of credibility amongst his own people and can only use violence, even when APC is having their internal party business. How unfortunate! I will speak at the appropriate time and you will hear from me.”
However, Mr. Ikem who later assembled supporters at an area close to St. Patrick’s Primary School along Ogoja road in Obudu and eventually declared his 2019 gubernatorial ambition.
But, the President of the NYCN in Obudu, Mr. Benedict Agba refuted claims that they were sponsored by the People’s Democratic Party as they have honored invitations from the APC and PDP in the past and said no political rally will hold in Obudu until all projects have been completed.
He told CrossRiverWatch that: “This is not party affairs, as youth council, we are apolitical, when Godilogo (Mr. Jedy Agba) visited I was invited, I was there live.
“Our point is simple; we want to tell our leaders, our elder brothers and our political godfathers that it is only as one that we can achieve something meaningful which is by making peace. Each time the make trouble, a lot of things elude us.
“When Paul Adah was in the House of Reps, yes he did well but because he had issues with the political class, a lot of our chances went to Ogoja because he was always there. Vena would have been somebody better for us today but because he had issues during that time; his anger is what is killing us, we believe in him as a political leader.
“I sent him a text message on this and so today through my office as the youth council president, no political rally will hold in Obudu, not even PDP I want you to tell the Governor that he can’t come to Obudu now to do any political rally or campaign until we join hands with him to finish these projects he is doing in Obudu, he is not doing it for the Ayades but he is doing it for all of us.
“What we want is peace and these projects completed and we will sit down on a round table and do assessment, has he done well?, should he continue or another of his brother should replace him? We will only support them if they are one, we don’t want to carry guns, we want to be given jobs, we know the truth, we are the ones who run with ballot papers, let the Governor call his brothers to a round table discussion.
“The youths of Obudu are equally demanding that the streets of Obudu should be watered to reduce the dust or we will take to the streets to force them to it.”
The youths who were bearing placards are said to have been provoked by Policemen who fired teargas into the crowds when they had attempted to disrupt the declaration rally of Mr. Ikem.
Eyewitnesses say some had grabbed a Policeman who had hit a youth with the butt of his AK47 rifle and threatened that he will not be let free. However, he is said to have been rescued by soldiers who had joined the police to restore calm. This is said to have led to the shooting of one of them.
The youths then resorted to vandalizing several chairs and window panes in the APC secretariat after they had destroyed the billboards bearing campaign images of Mr. Ikem and Mr. Koko Dan.
Efforts to get comments from both the PDP and APC spokespersons as at press time proved abortive.