From Steve Oko, Umuahia
A war of words has ensued between supporters of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa who represented Abia North in the 8th Senate; and his successor, Orji Uzor Kalu over the anti – Kalu protest that erupted in Abuja on Monday.
Protesters under the aegis of Abia North Concerned Citizens, had stormed the National Assembly on Monday and demanded that the seat of the zone be declared vacant following the long absence of their senator, Orji Uzor Kalu (APC) who has been in prison custody since December 5th, 2019 after he was convicted by a Federal High Court in Lagos on N7. 2 billion fraud charge.
Leader of the group, Chukwudi Chukwu had while addressing the press, said that declaring the seat vacant would enable the zone to elect another representative, lamenting that Kalu’s long absence at the red chamber had “rendered Abia North voiceless “.
The group which said its action was apolitical , further regretted that Abia North had lost so much for not having a voice at the senate for about six months.
Chukwu argued that Kalu had already breached section 86 (f) of the 1999 constitution by being absent from the senate for more than one third of the total legislative days in the year, hence the need to declare his seat vacant to pave the way for a fresh election.
But in a swift response, Kalu’s ally and former Chairman of Arochukwu Local Government Area, Chief Chibuike Jonas accused Senator Ohuabunwa of sponsoring the protest “to cast Kalu in bad light”.
He claimed that the protesters were not indigens of Abia North but thugs allegedly recruited by the former Senate Committee Chairman on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases.
Jonas further claimed that Abia North constituents “are happy with Kalu ” who he said had performed so well within the few days he had been at the senate, insisting that Ohuabunwa instigated the protest to unseat the former governor.
But in a counter reaction the Director General of Ohuabunwa political structure, “Follow Better Organisation “, Dr. Ndubuisi Eke, dissociated his boss from the protest.
He dissmised the allegations by Jonas as “untenable and a ranting of a political boot -licker desperate to do anything to retain his master’s favour and patronage”.
Eke said his boss had long moved on with life after the Owerri Appeal court judgment over Kalu’s “controversial victory” at the 2019 poll.
He wondered how “a reasonable person in his right sense” would finger Ohuabunwa for Kalu’s ordeals when he was not “the EFCC that charged Kalu for corruption nor the court that convicted him”.
Eke who recalled that Kalu’s criminal prosecution had dragged for years long before the 2019 election in which Ohuabunwa contested with him wondered how anybody could reasonably link the former Speaker ECOWAS Parliament with the former governor’s woes.
He punctured Jonas’ claims that the protesters were not Abia North constituents, saying that the identity of the leader of the group, Mr. Chukwudi Chukwu, as well as other signatories to the speech he read at the event were not in doubt.
His words : “it’s not only ridiculous but amounts to lack of shame for Jonas to allege that Senator Ohuabunwa sponsored the protest to cast his master in bad light before the world as if the word is unaware of his case.”
Eke in a press release yesterday in Umuahia regretted that the ex-council boss “who ought to know the disparity between genuine aspirations of the people and partisan politics has allowed pecuniary interest to becloud his sense of sound judgment “.
The release further read : “It’s only political jobbers like Jonas Chibuike and his co-travelers who couldn’t leave any legacy for posterity while he superintended over the affairs of Arochukwu LGA except for sharing costly wines, that can brand genuine agitators as political thugs.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the protesters as can be observed from the viral video clips are not faceless but identifiable concerned Abia North youths. Most of them are young professionals including lawyers and other illustrious sons and daughters of the zone who are deeply concerned about the sad political situation in the zone. Nothing can be more insulting than describe bonafide citizens as foreign political hireling!
“It’s a pity that somebody who should be more concerned that Abia North has been without a representative at the highest legislative body in the country for the past six months is rather decipating energy on a decided criminal case just for personal interests.
“Why should Jonas direct his aggression to an innocent man instead of addressing the concerns raised by patriotic constituents expressing their displeasure over the political oblivion his master has plunged the once respected Abia North zone into ?
He counseled the ex-council boss to concern himself with “how to wriggle his master out of his complex legal tussle instead of chasing after the winds.”
“Jonas and sycophants like him are the reason democracy is in danger in Nigeria. They are the reason corrupt politicians and heartless criminals who have no business in governance still shamelessly parade as if they were any force to reckon with.”
Eke who queried Jonas’ description in the media report as a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, APC, saying the former Council boss holds no stake in APC other than being “Kalu’s boot licker and errand boy”.
He, therefore, urged members of the public to disregard “the unfounded allegations” by Jonas which he insisted, were “concocted to enable the mastermind enjoy his relationship retained by his paymaster”.
” Jonas should bury his face in shame for the incalculable harm his master has inflicted on Abia North after stealing their mandate only to represent them in prison instead of the senate “, Eke mocked.