By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki
There seems to be a brewing disaffection between the Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Francis Nwifuru and the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ebonyi State, Mr Chika Nwoba over the destruction of billboards and posters belonging to PDP candidates in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
The party had accused the Speaker of masterminding the destruction, in a statement issued by its spokesperson in the State.
The campaign posters destroyed, it was learnt, included those of the governorship candidate of the party, Ifeanyi Ọdịi, that of the senatorial candidate of the party for Ebonyi North, Senator Sam Egwu.
Others were the campaign posters of the House of Representatives candidate for Izzi/Abakaliki constituency, Barnabas Ofoke and that of the Izzi East state constituency candidate, Jerome Elom.
But in a quick reaction, the Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly described the accusation as a fallacy and cheap blackmail.
Nwifuru, who has indicated interest to run for the Governorship position of the State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, explained that he never ordered anybody to pull down the campaign billboards and posters of opposition political parties in the State.
He called on the PDP scribe to look for job to do as he (Nwoba) has often portrayed himself as being jobless and mischievous while playing his role as the scribe of the PDP.
Nwoba in the statement had alleged that the thugs that caused the mayhem were led by one of the protocol officers of the Speaker (names withheld) as they were in the Speaker’s convoy when they spotted Mr Elom and his supporters at Nwezenyi Primary school.
He said they pulled out of the convoy and went to accost Mr Elom, in order to disperse the meeting and destroy the billboards of the opposition political party, PDP.
According to Nwoba: “I got information that the convoy of Francis Nwifuru had a brief stopover at the Nwezenyi Primary School, where a PDP House of Assembly candidate for Izzi, Jerome Elom was interfacing with his supporters and ordered his protocol officer to go and disperse them.
“The Protocol Officer did exactly that and even collected Barr Jerome’s phone and headed towards the position of a billboard showcasing PDP candidates, used dagger and tore it round and packed the pieces into the bush. He left with the candidate’s phone till this moment”, he alleged.
The victim, Jerome Elom, in an interview with Vanguard corroborated Mr Nwoba’s statement.
According to him, “I went to Nwezenyi to mount billboards. And after I successfully mounted billboards, I decided to entertain some of my supporters around that area. So, why we were there, three Sienna cars came, I recognized one of them which was branded with APC logo. It is owned by one of speakers’ protocol officers.
“They asked why should I mount billboards of Anyuchuks'(Odii) billboards in Izzi local government, that his billboards and poster should not be seen anywhere in the Local Government. I said no, that this is politics, and they should allow everybody to the campaign. They said no that I should remove it and I refused. They climbed and removed the billboards themselves”.
Still on the allegation, the Speaker expressed disappointment that the Party had degenerated to the level of cooking up baseless allegations against his person.
“The PDP scribe has no job. He is busy concocting stories. Why is he making fallacious statements against me? Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have responded; he is trying to make himself popular. I can’t talk about him. I don’t know him. He doesn’t know me. I have never done any business with him.
“Why I will I be ordering the destruction of people’s billboards in Izzi LGA, when I will not be happy if such is done to my own billboards in another LGA. Ebonyi should develop beyond this level of politics. The election is about the contest. It’s not a fight. “
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