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Tension in Enugu as Labour Party legislators-elect express fears over their lives, liberty

There is palpable fear all over Enugu State following reports that the state government, working in cahoots with security agencies in the state, is in the process of taking out of circulation at least five Labour Party (LP) members elected into the state’s legislature on the LP platform in the March 18 election.

The state’s executive arm of government, controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), plans to charge the legislators with frivolous criminal offences so that they will be kept in detention facilities until the House of Assembly is inaugurated and principal officers elected by the middle of this month, according to a retired top security executive who spoke to select journalists Friday morning in Enugu. He, however, pleaded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the intelligence report.

There are 14 members elected on the LP ticket and 10 on the PDP ticket in the 24-member legislature.

Said the former security officer: “The PDP state government is determined to take the leadership of the House by all means, even if it means not only charging the LP members with a frivolous case of treason but also kidnapping them or even a worse fate befalling some of them”.

Principal legislative officers are elected by a simple majority all over Nigeria.

“If the PDP government succeeds in kidnapping five Labour Party legislators-elect”, continued the erstwhile top security officer, “the PDP will produce the Speaker and other principal officers, thus turning the parliament into a rubber stamp assembly, worse than it has been since 1999 when civil rule was restored in Nigeria”.

Two newly elected LP legislators told journalists on the phone that they plan to relocate to a “far state like Delta where Enugu State government agents cannot easily reach us.”

Calling the PDP government illegitimate, one of them stated: “The PDP government is desperate to grab power by all means, regardless of whether it can cost human lives or not”.

Enugu State has been making national headlines since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on March 22 declared the PDP candidate, Peter Mbah, the winner of the March gubernatorial election.

The Labour Party had won 428,640, or 88.7% of the valid 468,891votes cast in the February 25 presidential election, seven out of the eight House of Representatives seats, two out of the three senatorial seats and later in the local March 18 elections 14 out of the 24 House of Assembly seats.

“Mbah’s emergence is nothing other than an awful controversy”, said Ugo Agballah, a popular lawyer and chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State.

The Enugu State INEC office had earlier reported that the PDP won over 31,000 votes in Mbah’s home local government area of Nkanu East, but the national headquarters of the commission reduced the number to a little over 16,000 four days after the poll.

The LP governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, has challenged INEC’s declaration of Mbah as the winner of the poll at the Enugu State Election Petitions Tribunal.

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