Obudu Bye-Election: I Did Not Sponsor Thugs – Vena Ikem, Says Cross River Government Out To Distort Facts

In Breaking News, National News, Politics

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

A gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State, Mr. Venatius Ikem has debunked allegations that he, alongside another aspirant, Paul Adah caused the voter apathy in the August 11, 2018 House of Assembly bye-election in Obudu.

The Cross River State government had on Thursday, August 16, 2018 accused Messrs Ikem and Adah of also sponsoring the suspected thugs arrested on August 7, 2018, four days to the elections.

But, Mr. Ikem in a statement titled, ‘I Did Not Sponsor Thugs To Disrupt The Bye-Election In Obudu’ and signed by him and issued this week said the press conference was an attempt to distort facts which lends credence to the several unsuccessful attempts to have him arrested before the elections.

“My attention has been drawn to a Press statement issued by some Members of the Cross River State Exco accusing me and Hon Paul Adah of importing thugs to disrupt and unleash violence during the just concluded Bye-election in Obudu. Nothing could be farther from the truth than this.

“At all material times, I did not and will never get involved in any violent or cult activities for the purpose of winning elections. I remain fully committed to the ideals of democracy, freedom of expression and the right to freedom of Association.

“The action of the State Exco by addressing a press conference was designed simply to distort the facts of the just concluded bye-elections and give credence to the desperate and unfortunate plot by the state governor to have me arrested at all cost and for no just cause.

“It is public knowledge that the Government of Sen. Ayade during the week of the bye-election made several efforts to obtain a warrant for my arrest without success. Two ex-parte applications, made to a magistrate court by the State Attorney General within one week, were all rejected. An application/request for my arrest made to the Commissioner of Police Cross River State during the period was equally turned down.

The current accusation leveled against my person by some members of the State Exco, led by the Attorney General and the Commissioner for Information, through their so called world press conference, is simply part of the desperate attempts by the state government to find a reason and a justification for my arrest. The Exco members are simply doing the bidding of their master the Governor

“It is on record that several attempts have been made on my life since the PDP primaries in 2014 and the period following my defection to the APC and my declaration to vie for governorship of the state. In fact, my declaration at the ward and local government were disrupted by thugs ostensibly sponsored by the state government. Unfortunately, some of the main actors fingered in the various attacks on my person and activities have since been given state government appointments,” the statement read.

Mr. Ikem who alleged that the elections were characterised by violence and intimidation of members of his party by thugs suspected to be state sponsored, wondered why the security agencies did not incident any.

It is a well-known fact in Obudu and indeed the entire state that the APC candidate for the bye-election in Obudu, Mr. Adah Ishamali, was forced to abandon his campaign following violent attacks by thugs suspected to be state sponsored. His campaign trail was attacked variously and homes of his main supporters, including my humble self, attacked and vandalized with many people shot and injured. All these were reported at the Police headquarters in Abuja when the local police authorities could not even as much as incident our complaints on the unwarranted violence unleashed on us.

“The APC candidate for the bye-election was by far the most popular of all the aspirants. He was also clearly the preferred candidate of the people who could not understand why the Governor and his party will impose a candidate unknown to them as their representative. We were therefore not surprise at the violence unleashed on the people of Obudu in the name of delivering an unpopular candidate, who, to add salt to injury, never went to Obudu even once for campaigns and even to vote! These facts are easily verifiable.

“The bye-election in Obudu was characterized by violence, intimidation, ballot box snatching, thumb printing, etc as desperate political appointees from Obudu, who could not win the support of the people, resorted to these tactics to deliver the Governor’s candidate as a cover up for their rejection by the people.

“This is the background to the bye election of August 11, 2018 in Obudu and the desperate attempts by the state government to hound all opposition elements and cow them to submission, especially in the build up to 2019 general elections,” he said.

On the arrest of suspected thugs sponsored by him, Mr. Ikem said “some APC supporters” whom were scheduled to attend the party’s rally on August 9, 2018 were arrested and unfairly labeled miscreants and thugs.

“While it is true that some APC supporters who came to attend a rally by the APC candidate scheduled for August 9, 2018, were arrested by the police in their hotel rooms, it is not correct to label them as ‘miscreants and thugs’ because they duly identified themselves as APC members on party solidarity. This is normal in all political campaigns. From all accounts, no weapons were found on them. These people were arrested ostensibly to keep them away from the campaign and election.

“These party supporters and friends were only twelve in number. They were detained in Obudu for two days before being moved to Calabar. I do not know where the authors of the press statement got the twenty people in detention mentioned in their statement to the press. Perhaps they have lumped our supporters with their own hoodlums procured to trump up imaginary statements in the continuous attempt to effect the arrest of Barr. Venatius Ikem,” the statement read.

Furthermore, he questioned the motive behind the press conference two weeks after the arrest and wondered how they got sensitive documents such as the statements of the suspects.

“It is on record that these accused persons have been in detention since Tuesday, 7th August and it took almost two weeks for the Exco to come up with the claim that the culprits made implicating statements against my person.

“It is rather very curious and worrisome that the authors of the Press statement have privileged information about police document! Who is feeding them with information within the exclusive knowledge of the Police, like the statements of accused persons?

“It is ridiculous to accuse me of sponsoring cultist for violent activities during elections and in the same statement note that the perpetrators ‘have been charged to court for promoting native war and are remanded in custody.’ This smacks of desperation to robe me in at all cost to fulfill a predetermined agenda which is ‘arrest Vena at all cost’,” he said.

Also, Mr. Ikem who said he remains committed to democratic ideals, described as “regrettable,” what he termed the “desecration” of the state executive council chambers which has housed “responsible people” who managed the state affairs.

“In conclusion, let me reiterate that I remain fully committed to the ideals of democracy. I have never been nor will I ever be party to any acts of violence before, during or after elections. I do not know anything about the massive violence witnessed during the by-elections in Obudu and all attempts to robe me into this by the state government will fail like all previous efforts at my incarceration.

“It is regrettable that the hallowed chambers of the Cross River State Executive Council, from where responsible people have managed the affairs of this great state, will be desecrated in this manner, hosting a spurious crowd pretending to be members of a State Executive Council, making offensive, indefensible and libelous public statements to assuage the ego of a Governor desperate to prove acceptance.

“I remain focused in my determination to rescue our dear state from the retrogressive actions of her current government, under the leadership of H.E. Sen Ben Ayade, who has so far demonstrated a total lack of understanding of what governance is and a clear lack of vision and capacity to move the state forward,” he said.

Mr. Adah had since dismissed the allegations and described them as, “childish, malicious and unfortunate.”

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