By Douglas Okoro
Abakaliki, June 13, 2020
Chief Abia Onyike, former Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebonyi, has explained reason behind his present ordeal with Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi.
Onyike in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abakaliki, explained that Umahi and his agents were after him due to his criticism against the governor’s style of administration.
NAN recalls that Umahi in his live COVID-19 weekly radio broadcast to update the people, had directed the Director, State Security Service to ensure that Onyike was compelled to under go compulsory COVID-19 test.
He was directed to isolate/quarantine Onyike for 14 days for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 protocol restricting order on inter-state travels.
The statement was captioned, ‘Harassment, Intimidation and Isolation/Quarantine: Gov. Umahi’s Tactical Maneuvers To Silence Me From Criticising His Government’.
The former commissioner who also was the General Manager of Ebonyi Publishing and Printing Press, alleged that Umahi had employed all subterranean tactics to muzzle him and stop him from constructive criticism of the administration.
Onyike, a former National Deputy President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), and first Chairman, NUJ Ebonyi Council, has however vowed to resist any form of harassment, intimidation or persecution in his quest to get the government do the right thing.
The statement reads: “I want to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of the public to the incessant intimidation and harrassment which I have been subjected to by Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi and his agents.
“Umahi has vowed to employ all sinister measures to silence and prevent me from being critical of his anti-people administration.
“On Tuesday, June 9, I was part of a three-man panel of discussants invited by 92.5 Dream FM Radio in Enugu.
“The live radio programme was to analyse the issue of Leadership and Democracy in the South-East geopolitical zone, as part of the celebration of 21 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in Nigeria.
“In the one-hour programme, I took time to dissect and analyse Gov. Umahi’s government in Ebonyi.
“I accused the government of being nepotic, as the governor had converted the state to a private family dynasty.
“After the programme, I returned to Abakaliki and was confronted same day by Mr Austin Umahi, the governor’s younger brother who is the National Vice Chairman of PDP.
” He sent a message to my WhatsApp and threw caution to the winds by calling me names amidst other unprintable and derogatory comments, and sought to know why I criticised his brother’s government.
“Then, Thursday, June 11, Umahi used his live broadcast to issue an order that the security agencies should compel me to be isolated and quarantined.
“I wish to state categorically that the present step by Umahi is a calculated witch-hunt aimed at curtailing my fundamental human rights and freedom of speech.
” It was based on a letter issued by the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Afikpo South Local Government Area, my LGA of origin.
” But, this process is shrouded in mystery and contradictions; first and foremost, I am resident in Abakaliki and not Afikpo South LGA.
” I wish to state that I will not be comfortable with any test being conducted by Gov. Umahi’s agents in Ebonyi as the governor and his brother, Austin had threatened to kill me.”