Suspected hoodlum allegedly sponsored by the Abia state government
have botched a planned protest by anti-coalition groups in Abia State.
The group under the aegis of Abia Coalition for Good Governance and Against Corruption (ACAC) had planned a protest in the state over the recent fraud allegation against the former Governor Theodore Orji and his sons.
According to a report in The Nation Newspaper, the said hoodlums were said to have injured and stolen the phones and cash of a co-convener of the protest; Barrister Emperor Ogbonna, a human rights activist.
Ogbonna said that the thwarting of the protest in Umuahia by some hoodlums will not put an end to the coalition’s demand for good governance and accountability, stressing that Abia due to corruption is now a backward state.
Ogbonna said that the reason behind the protest in Abuja and Abia was to ask the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the fraud allegation against Abia ex-Governor Theodore Orji and his son who is currently the Speaker of Abia State of Assembly.
He dismissed rumours that the coalition was sponsored by the opposition and stressed they were asking the Speaker to temporarily step down until investigation into the allegations against him are concluded.
His words: “We all saw in the newspapers about the activities of Senator T A Orji and his son and the allegations about the financial impropriety leveled against them.
“We also read from reliable and credible newspapers about the opening of 100 account numbers of which 80 of the accounts were functional.
“So, in this coalition for good governance and against corruption, we decided that we are going to do a peaceful protest. The reason behind the protest was to send a message that Abians want EFCC to investigate this matter very well.
“We don’t want a situation where the investigation will be dropped. We also wanted the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Mr. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji to step down temporarily because of the gargantuan amount of money that’s been investigated.
“As we were in Umuahia still planning on how to set out for the protest, a group of boys numbering over 150 armed with guns, machetes, knives, bottles, and sticks.
“Immediately they saw me they said is that not Emperor? They came after me, left everybody and began to beat me, tore my clothes, stole my two phones. I left my car and luckily ran away to the other side of the road near Choice Fast Food or Super Market.
“Two policemen were there with a DSS man. Before I could even see properly, they’ve attacked the DSS man and began to inflict him with beating and continue beating me in front of the DSS and police who were also under the same attack.
“When the situation got out of hand, the police responded by shooting in the air and the boys drew back by them they’re already many blocking the road.
“At the same time, some policemen came that they’re from the office of the Commissioner that I’m under arrest for Illegal protest. I told them that I’m not doing anything Illegal.
“I let them know that I’m exercising my fundamental right as a citizen and that I don’t like the way Abia State is being run especially on the allegation of financial impropriety by the Speaker and his father.
“They arrested me and left the boys that attacked me, put me in their car, and took me to the DPO of CPS Umuahia, from there to the Area Commander who later took me to the CP who questioned why I went into protest without permission?
“I told him clearly that I’m yet to commence the process and that similar protest is going on in Abuja and that IG has given his permission and that I was only organizing things and planning to come to his office later. He later asked me to go.”
Speaking on further protest coming up, Ogbonna said: “We’re going to do another protest in Aba. This time around, I’ll make sure I’ll work with the police so that they’ll not have any reason to term it unlawful, although I know that every Nigerian has the right to protest as long as it’s peaceful. We must protest.
“These people are doing what they’re doing in Abia because they think that nobody is questioning them. Once they know that people are asking questions, our money will not be going that way.
“Should the police deny us the permit (to protest) we’ll go ahead without them because that Public Order Act or Riot Act is inconsistent with Chapter 4 of the Constitution.”
However, Abia State Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon when contacted said that the Command did not get any letter from the IG approving the protest.
Okon said that the protest was disrupted when two groups who were in support and against the protest clashed.
He, however, said that it took the intervention of his men to rescue the leader of the protesting group whom he said was manhandled.