By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
The Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Disapora (AESID)- a Non-governmental organization has lambasted Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi for ordering the Directorate of State Security Services, DSS, to arrest one of his stern critics and erstwhile Commissioner for Information, Chief Abia Onyike.
The group which said it is passionate about the welfare of the state’scitizens described the action draconian and undemocratic.
AESID in a statement issued Sunday by Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu, its President Worldwide, said “We are deeply saddened that Governor Umahi who made the order whilegiving an update on COVID-19 in the State at the Government House,Abakaliki”.
It said the governor has continued to flourish on his anti-democratic credentials even on the eve of the celebration of Nigeria’s chequered democratic experiment by ordering incessant arrests of citizens who share differing views on matters of policies and governance in his five-year oldadministration.
“The crime of Chief Onyike according to the Governor is the claim that he came into Ebonyi from an ‘unknown destination’ and allegedly violated the COVID-19 lockdown rules in the State by not quarantining himself. He was consequently barred from entering his Edda village in (Afikpo South LGA) by the anti-COVID-19 Task Force causing him to return to the State capital.
“We are rudely shocked that Governor Umahi could stoop so low by asking the State’s secret service to pick the former Commissioner up in his Abakaliki residence for immediate isolation at its facility.
“This platform is however deeply worried that Governor Umahi’s arrest order came barely 24 hours after Chief Onyike critiqued the Governor’s 5- year old administration during a Radio Programme on 92.5 Enugu’s Dream Fm. It is therefore a clear case of the witch crying in the night only for neighbours to see the dead body of the baby the next morning and this stands truly condemned by us and every reasonable Ebonyian.
“Assuming without conceding that the former Commissioner is positive for Corona Virus, is the DSS which should be more deeply concerned with tackling more pressing State security challenges such as kidnappings, inter-communal unrests and several reported clashes the appropriate agency to quarantine or isolate him? We sincerely frown at the flagrant abuse of State powers through the incessant use of State security apparatchik and unofficial State security outfits such as the
Neighbourhood Security Watch by the Governor to intimidate, harass, molest, arrest and attack harmless and innocent citizens, particularly those who share opposing views on his dictatorial style of governance.”
The group also alleged that another citizen of the State from Ezza North Local Government Area of the State, Mr. Stephen Oken was picked by the DSS yesterday on the orders of the State on spurious and unsubstantiated allegations.
“We wish to remind Governor Umahi that the fundamental gain in any democracy for the citizens the world over is freedom: freedom to choose those who rule them, freedom to criticize them or their style of government, freedom to criticize programmes and policies of government and, most importantly, freedom to contribute by way of advice on how governance can be better improved.”