By Jonathan Ugbal
A shootout at the secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Obudu local government area on Friday has left at least one dead and another injured following attacks during the consultation visit of gubernatorial aspirant, Mr. John Owan-Enoh with controversy surrounding what led to the death of the student.
The victim, a student of the Federal College of Education in Obudu and native of Boki is said to have been sitting in front of his house with a boxer short when two stray bullets hit his head and stomach splattering his brains around.
He is said to have died shortly after a source at the medical facility where he was rushed to said he had three bullets in him.
“(He) was shot in the head and in the abdomen with about three bullets. He couldn’t manage it because he was shot in the head and it scattered the brain and it was only a matter of time, he was going to die,” the source said.
For the injured person, the source said that: “The other man the bullet just brushed through, so he didn’t require admission, so he just left.”
A neighbor of the victim told CrossRiverWatch that the youths in Obudu had tried preventing Mr. Owan-Enoh, a sitting senator from carrying out his consultation but were met with stiff opposition which forced them to retreat, fortify themselves and return.
“The youths came in and I can’t say for sure what caused the problem but a few shots were fired and the youths retreated only to return and a shootout ensued. It was during the shootout that someone raised an alarm that the student has been shot in front of his house. He lived near the secretariat,” the neighbor said.
But, the president of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Comrade Benedict Agba said he is out of the state and did not authorize any action to disrupt a political activity despite having an agreement with security agencies that the youths do not want any political campaign due to the fact that Obudu has remained underdeveloped.
Agba told CrossRiverWatch that: “It wasn’t me, I was not there. But I know that something like that happened because someone called me. For a very long time the youths have said we don’t want campaigns in Obudu. Even during the last (House of Asssembly bye-elections) elections, PDP core men were driven from the club; Martin’s Orim, Victor Agwu and Emma all ran and left their vehicles. We don’t want political campaign, we are not against anybody.”
When asked if he was aware of a plan to disrupt political activities, he said that; “I was not there. I am not even in Cross River State. Somebody called me and told me and I was not informed. But, even if they had told me, I would have advised them to desist from using violence. I will say go, tell the Police and SSS that we had agreed before now that we don’t want these things.”
CrossRiverWatch gathered that security agencies swooped in later on and secured the scene. But, efforts to get comments from the police command in the state have proved abortive as calls to the known telephone line of the Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Irene Ugbo did not connect.
When dialed on Friday, the operator said Mrs. Ugbo, a Deputy Superintendent of Police line was switched off.
But, the Senator Owan-Enoh’s team claim the problem happened after he had left the venue. His spokesman, Mr. Kelvin Ijo told this reporter on phone that there were attempts to deny the senator entry into Obudu which failed.
“Some people did not want him (Owan-Enoh) to enter Obudu for reasons best known to them but he eventually entered and carried out his consultation. When he left, some people descended on the APC Secretariat and burnt it,” Kelvin said.
He said there are speculations that an aide to Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade was behind the attack and condemned it.
“People are speculating that it is one Osim that is working with the Governor that is behind such attack,” Mr. Kelvin said, adding that: “I think it is a very primitive action and it has no place in today’s politics, it is unfortunate.”
Now, the Cross River State government is yet to react to the comments but government house sources told this reporter that the mood in Government House Calabar is mixed as there is indifference to the allegations that an aide to the Governor sponsored the attack while there are speculations the governor may publicly call for an investigation and possible prosecution of those connected to the death of the student.
“We are hearing that the senator came with thugs and security personnel and we can’t be dragged into the internal wrangling of the APC which is very clear the northern APC is not happy with Owan-Enoh; the governor should not be dragged into that,” a senior government official (names withheld) told this reporter.
But, Owan-Enoh denied this. Mr. Kelvin said that: “He couldn’t have come prepared with thugs. When the senator moves, he has security around him. Those people, you can’t say they are thugs. He is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and he has security around him and you will agree with me that, that would have been a threat to his life because anything could have happened.”
Furthermore, he condemned the acts of those involved in the attack while maintaining that democratic ethos should be followed. On the death of the student, he said that, “I am unaware of any death and if they want to link it to the senator it means that it is part of the vile propaganda and campaign.”
Also, he dismissed claims that there are internal crisis rocking the APC which may have caused the shootout and said: “The senator has toured every local government in the state and the so called divisions didn’t rear its head, the parties have united, the APC in Cross River is already united. Disagreements may come but at the end of the day, the party has united.”
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