By Jonathan Ugbal
Mr. Charles Onwe, a supporter of Agom Jarigbe, a leading aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party in the October 31, 2020 bye-election for the office of the Senator Representing Cross North district has died after a fracas with supporters of Governor Benedict Ayade.
The incident occurred at the residence of the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Stella Orem Odey in Ugaga, Yala Local Government Area.
Mr. Emmanuel Idris, an aide of Mr. Jarigbe who is the Member, representing Ogoja/Yala federal constituency told CrossRiverWatch that aides of Mr. Ayade were present when Mr. Onwe alongside others were attacked.
In a statement shared to this reporter, Idris quoted Emmanuel Ugwu, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Yala as saying that he was on his way to Ogoja to meet up with other supporters of Mr. Jarigbe when he was called by the Commissioner for Grants and Economic Empowerment, John Ulafor as well as State lawmaker, Cynthia Nkasi (PDP Yala II) to meet them at Mrs. Odey’s house.
“On getting there, Hon. Ulafor tried to compel Mr. Egwu to join them to the ranch to be camped with delegates loyal to the Governor, but he refused and insisted on leaving (and) he was suddenly attacked by thugs loyal to the Governor’s camp,” the statement read.
Now, the PDP is sharply divided into two; one faction tilted to the Governor and his preferred aspirant, Dr. Stephen Odey while the other is led by Mr. Jarigbe and other PDP National Assembly members from the state excluding the member representing Obudu/Obanliku/Bekwarra federal constituency, Legor Idagbo.
And, Mr. Idris said that aside Mr. Onwe, two other friends of Mr. Egwu; Bob Igelle and Mr. Adibe had tried to intervene but we’re stabbed with daggers, cut with machetes and shot at.
“Egwu and Igelle managed to run for their lives while Mr. Onwe and Adibe were left half dead until the police around the area intervened and took them to the General Hospital Ogoja where Mr. Charles Onwe was later confirmed dead while the other two are receiving treatments at the hospital.”
Mr. Charles Onwe, a @OfficialPDPNig member and supporter of Rep. Jarigbe Agom has died from injuries sustained in a fracas with supporters of Cross River Governor, @senatorbenayade ahead of the party’s primaries pic.twitter.com/PDWIf0yEuk
— CrossRiverWatch (@crossriverwatch) September 5, 2020
But, Mr. Ulafor is denying that he ordered or watched the scenario.
He told CrossRiverWatch that since Mr. Egwu is from Ijiraga ward in Yala, he invited him to arrive at Mrs. Odey’s house at 8:00AM on Friday.
He said Egwu arrived at about 4:30PM and complained that his vehicle got bad at Yahe and pledged loyalty to Mr. Ayade’s camp.
“He is a adhoc delegate from Ijiraga ward, he said he is with us and since we had arranged a bus to go to the ranch and he said that he will use his own car. We already knew he was with Jarigbe in Ogoja even though he said that he was coming from Ukelle,” Mr. Ulafor said.
He denied ordering his supporters to beat Mr. Egwu up as he was not associated with violence despite been in politics since 1992.
“He came with three people, they wanted to force their way into the compound, it is a big compound. They fought with the boys at the gate and as the thing happened, He (Egwu) drove off and left the other ones behind and you know how politics is! They destroyed things at the gate,” Ulafor said.
He claimed that Egwu and his friends “are supposed to be my boys,” adding that; “There was one fair police inspector at the gate who is an uncle to the boy who died, he warned him to stop what he was doing.”
As at press time, CrossRiverWatch could not get comments from Mr. Jarigbe, Mrs. Odey and Mrs. Nkasi.