CaringHeart Foundation, has raised the alarm over the alleged plot to re-arrest the ‘abducted’ Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, Hon. Linus Okorie using government apparatus, slam fresh charges against him, on bail.
Recall Okorie was reportedly adducted on the morning of October 17 (Sunday), 2022, while driving out of his Abakaliki residence to the Onicha Local Government Area of the state, where he was to have a meeting with his supporters.
His whereabouts were uncertain throughout Sunday until news filtered in on Monday morning, October 18, that he was arrested by members of the Ebubeagu Security Outfit in liaison with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, over alleged illicit drug dealings.
But, on that Monday morning, the NDLEA State Commandant, Iyke Uche, denied ever knowing the whereabouts of the former lawmaker, saying the agency neither met him nor arrested him.
However, the Ebonyi Police Command, same day, insisted the LP chieftain was rather arrested on the grounds of his illicit drug involvement in the state, saying he was neither kidnapped nor abducted.
He has been in detention at the facility of the Nigerian Correctional Services, for the past month.
The accusation is coming on the heels of the intrigues that played out within and outside the Federal High Court Abakaliki premises, last week when he appeared on grounds of his bail application by his Counsel.
It was reported that when the detained LP chieftain was taken back to the custody of the prison, the Service’s vehicles were allegedly intercepted at PRESCO Flyover and later, at Udensi Roundabout, in the Abakaliki metropolis by men of the Ebubeagu Security Outfit.
The Commander of the Ebubeagu in Ebonyi State had since last week, denied the allegation, describing it as unfounded.
But sources had revealed that it took the timely intervention of men of the Department of State Services, to let the vehicles conveying the suspect and the prisons warders off the hook of the state security outfit.
This latest allegation is contained in a statement signed and issued, on Monday, by the Foundation’s Director, Dr David Ogbonna, claiming the suspect was no longer safe at the NCoS custody.
The statement read in part, “There is an alleged plan by the Ebonyi State Government in connivance with Nigeria Police to re-arrest Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie and arraign him in Ebonyi State Court with new trumped-up charges/petition any day he’s granted bail by the Court or while still in detention.
“The recent happenings during Court appearances of Hon. Linus Okorie is suggestive of a clandestine plan by the Ebonyi State Government to re-arrest him, any day the Court grants him bail.
“The last two times that Hon. Linus appeared in Court, the police had refused to give backup security to the Correctional facility officers from the Prison to the Court, but would rather mobilise their men heavily into the Court premises and even into the Courtroom.
“The other day, we all saw how the police backed out from securing Hon. Linus from the court to the Correctional Centre, thereby making him vulnerable to the attack of actors of Ebonyi State. It took the unbiased and gallant intervention of the DSS to secure him that day after the vehicle conveying him was ambushed by gunmen suspected to be men of Ebube-Agu Security Network.
“We are aware of a perfected plan by the Ebonyi State Attorney-General, acting on the strict directive of the Ebonyi State Governor, to arraign Hon. Okorie before a state High Court on Wednesday, 23rd November 2022 or any moment from now after such an attempt made on Monday, November 21, 2022, failed flat through the manipulation of divine hands.
“Our intelligence gathering within the state unequivocally revealed also that should the first option fail, a second option is already allegedly hatched by Ebonyi State Government working in cahoot with the Commissioner of Police, in the state, to re-arrest Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie, any day the Court grants him bail, trump up new petition/charges and go over the circles again just to keep him in detention till after the 2023 general elections.”
Reacting, Governor Umahi, described the allegation as laughable and baseless, saying he didn’t need any underhand tactics to win suspects at the polls, come 2023.
His Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Mr Chooks Okoh, stated this in a telephone interview with our Correspondent, on Tuesday.
He said, “It is laughable to say that Governor David Umahi is unpopular in Ebonyi South. Very laughable. Which politician, living or dead can point to achievements in the zone or state more than Umahi? Campaigns are based on the antecedents of the players.
“What will any other contender point to as achievement placed side by side Umahi? He does not need any underhand tactics to win an election that is already his. As for the case of the Labour Party candidate, I certainly cannot comment on a matter that is sub judice, it is before several courts of law. As for the Senatorial seat, Umahi’s works will take him there.”
The Ebonyi Police Command, could not be reached for comment as of the time of filing this report, on Monday.
The Commissioner for Police in the state, CP Aliyu Garba, who told our Correspondent that he was in a meeting, said, “There is no trouble anywhere in the state. Everywhere is fine. But I’m in a meeting with the Commandant of Civil Defense. I will get back to you.”