BY Alo David, Abakaliki
The member representing Ohaukwu North Constituency in Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedu Awo,on Wednesday 29th July,2021 allegedly mobilised boys suspected loyal to him to attack Mr Charles Oleh Jnr, Head of Community News of Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation, EBBC with other Journalists on duties.
Mr. Charles Oleh Jnr. and Prince Solomon Okorie, the Publisher of Guide-Post International Magazine/Newspapers with other journalists were invited by some stakeholders from Ezza-Effium Community to cover the sharing of the pallatives disbursed by the State Governor, Engr David Umahi to his people at 9, Nise Street, off Ogwu Street in Abakaliki metropolis, were beaten to stupor.
According to Mr Charles Oleh Jnr., the lawmaker, Mr Chinedu Awo ordered his thugs to beat him up after giving the EBBC Senior reporter a push in his attempt to clarify reactions trailing the disbursed pallatives by the state Governor to the war-torn Effium Community.
He said:”Immediately, we came here as invited by an Ezza stakeholder from Ezza-Effium Community, many people blocked the gate of Deeper Life Bible Church in Abakaliki, complaining bitterly that one Honourable Chinedu Awo and his cronies allegedly locked the gate, not allowing them to partake in sharing of the palliatives.
“Some of them alleged that the said lawmaker, Chinedu Awo wants to divert the palliatives, to share to his immediate family instead of following the due process.
“Some of them have granted us interview, and there were mixed reactions as some supported the palliatives to be shared in Abakaliki town, whereas, majority of them insisted that the palliatives should be moved to the hinterland where their people are from the affected community so that they will largely benefit.
“However, immediately Mr Chinedu Awo got information that Pressmen were on ground, he unlocked the small gate, came out and started attacking us.
“When I tried to explain that he should please first understand, and give a clear picture of what was going on and to equally get further clarification of the allegations spreaded by his kinsmen over the disbursement of the palliatives, he vehemently opposed me.
“He gave me a push and at the same time, ordered his thugs to beat me up – of which, his boys descended on me and beat me mercilessly in the presence of the public along the street and fellow colleagues.
“They destroyed my phone and my body was badly affected as they used two-by-two planks and stones on me by his boys. It was just by the grace of God that I escaped from been killed. Both medical and police reports will be communicated soon,” he explained.
One of the affected Journalists, Prince Solomon Okorie, the Publisher of Guide-Post International Magazine accused the lawmaker of threatening his life.
“I wonder how someone of high position as an Honourable lawmaker of that matter, who has no problem with me, should threatened to kill me if I make any publication regards the allegations spreaded against him by his kinsmen.
“Just because we asked him, whether he can clarify us on the situation of things regarding the distribution of the palliatives but he pushed me back with his two hands, and started threatening to kill me should I do any publication.
“Just a comment from Charles Oleh Junior threw the scene rowdy as the Lawmaker ordered his boys to beat him up and we all took to our heels to save our lives,”Okorie stated.
In an interview, the National President of Umuekumaenyi General Assembly, Mr Ben Orogwu who is from the area explained that the palliatives given to Ezza people in Effium Community by the State Governor, Chief David Umahi was offloaded at the scene of the attack, 9, Nise Street Abakaliki town.
He said, the agreement of the community stakeholders was that the palliatives would be sent to the hinterland to distribute to the people today(Wednesday) but expressed surprise on how the arrangement was thwarted.
“Our agreement was that, this morning, we will move the palliatives to our respective villages but the so called stakeholders led by the Honourable member representing Ohaukwu North, Chinedu Awo have not allowed us to do it as we agreed.
“We don’t know why they refused allowing us to carry the palliatives to the village, personally I’m from Wigbeke ward II, and I have not seen my own.
” The instruction was that the palliatives should be shared booth by booth so that the affected people will benefit, not the urban guerrillas who don’t know their polling units. We don’t know what they are doing inside and locked doors against us,” the President and other sources from Ezza-Effium Community petitioned.
Contrarily, two stakeholders from the community being present at the scene of the attack, Barr. Joseph Utobo and Prince Ben Ogwele told Journalists that the delay which resulted into the people suspecting the palliatives to have been diverted was as a result of the effort made by the lawmaker and other community leaders to ensuring a smooth hand over of the food items to the various village heads before moving to their quarters to share them to their people.
“Even though am a stakeholder, I’m also the part of the persons outside, just to make sure we do not cross that place and make that place crowdy.
“By the grace of God, the governor knows me as one of the super stakeholders, because we have been suffering in several ways following the crisis in our community. So, nothing like diversion of the palliatives by anybody, the gate was locked in order not to allow exodus of people to enter and make the place where the palliatives packed too rowdy,” Barr. Utobo cleared.
In collaboration, Ben Ogwele said, “even though the state government has done alot to bring permanent peace in Effium, there’s still a little crisis in Effium and we decided to share it here. Not only sharing it here, but to make sure that it gets to the village heads. All we did was to call the village heads to come around this morning, to carry the pallatives and distribute at their various locations.
“Why we see this method as the best, because there are some places in Effium, you cannot pass due to the security of the place and the bad road.
“As am talking to you, people gathered here are Ezza-Effium people, we didn’t do it ward by ward but what we did is to reach the needy.”
Recall that the Executive Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area, Barr. Clement Odah has commended the State Governor, Engr. David Nweze Umahi for his uninterrupted commitment in rescuing the people of Effium Community by providing them with pallatives and other interventions.
He noted that the war-torn community, Effium was made up of five wards including Effium Ward I, Effium Ward II, Wigbeke Ward I, Wigbeke Ward II and Wigbeke Ward III as the people being affected by the unfortunate outbreak of war on 24th February, 2021 in the area.
In his words: “Yesterday, was a Christmas day for my people. We were there, the pallatives were loaded in large numbers, the Local Government was on ground to support the process of offloading materials for each ward, it was loaded one thousand (1,000) bags of rice, several cartons of tomatoes, indomies, and all other condiments. The handover was transparent and it was headed over by the Deputy Governor, Chief Barr Eric Kelechi Igwe ably represented by Hon. Mrs Ann Aligwe, the Honourable Commissioner for Human Capital Development in Ebonyi state.
“Everybody was happy, to the best of my knowledge, the distribution has been going on well since yesterday.”
Barr Odah therefore, urged both Ezza-Effium and Effium people to give peace a chance by living like one people, stressing that “there’s
absolute peace in the community now,” because of the state government intervention.