CaringHeart Foundation has raised the alarm over an alleged plot to rearrest the ‘abducted’ Ebonyi State senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, Linus Okorie, and slam fresh charges against him.
Okorie was reportedly abducted on October 17, 2022, while driving out of his Abakaliki residence to the Onicha Local Government Area of the state, where he was to have a meeting with his supporters.
His whereabout was uncertain throughout Sunday until news filtered in on Monday morning, October 18, that he was arrested by members of the Ebubeagu Security Outfit in liaison with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, over alleged illicit drug dealings.
But the NDLEA State Commandant, Iyke Uche, denied ever knowing the whereabouts of the former lawmaker, saying the agency neither met him nor arrested him.
However, the Ebonyi Police Command, same day, insisted the LP chieftain was rather arrested on the grounds of his illicit drug involvement in the state, saying he was neither kidnapped nor abducted.
He has been in detention at the facility of the Nigerian Correctional Services for the past one month.
This latest allegation is contained in a statement signed and issued on Monday, by the Foundation’s Director, Dr. David Ogbonna, claiming the suspect was no longer safe at the NCS prison custody.
The statement read in part, “There is an alleged plan by the Ebonyi State Government in connivance with Nigeria Police to re-arrest Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie and arraign him in Ebonyi State Court with new trumped up charges/petition any day he’s granted bail by the Court or while still in detention.
“The recent happenings during Court appearances of Hon. Linus Okorie is suggestive of a clandestine plan by the Ebonyi State Government to rearrest him any day the Court grants him bail.
“The last two times that Hon. Linus appeared in Court, the police had refused giving back up security to the correctional facility officers from the prison to the court, but would rather mobilise their men heavily into the court premises and even into the court room.
“The other day, we all saw how the police backed-out from securing Hon. Linus from the court to the Correctional Centre, thereby making him vulnerable to the attack of actors of Ebonyi State. It took the unbiased and gallant intervention of the DSS to secure him that day after the vehicle conveying him was ambushed by gun men suspected to be men of Ebubeagu Security Network.
“We are aware of a perfected plan by the Ebonyi State Attorney-General, acting on strict directive of the Ebonyi State Governor, to arraign Hon. Okorie before a state High Court on Wednesday, 23rd November 2022 or any moment from now after such attempt made on Monday, November 21, 2022 failed flat through the manipulation of divine hands.
“Our intelligence gathering within the state unequivocally revealed also that should the first option fail, a second option is already allegedly hatched by Ebonyi State Government working in cahoot with the Commissioner of Police, in the state, to re-arrest Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie, any day the Court grants him bail, trump up new petition/charges and go over the circles again just to keep him in detention till after 2023 general elections.”
Reacting, Governor David Umahi described the allegation as laughable and baseless, saying he didn’t need any underhand tactics to win at the polls, come 2023.
His Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Mr Chooks Okoh, stated this in a telephone interview with our Correspondent, on Tuesday.
He said, “It is laughable to say that Governor David Umahi is unpopular in Ebonyi South. Very laughable. Which politician, living or dead can point to achievements in the zone or state more than Umahi? Campaigns are based on antecedents of the players.
“What will any other contender point to as achievement placed side by side Umahi? He does not need any underhand tactics to win an election that is already his. As for the case of the Labour Party candidate, I certainly cannot comment on a matter that is clearly sub judice. It is before several courts of law. As for the senatorial seat, Umahi’s works will take him there.”
The Ebonyi Police Command, could not be reached for comment as of the time of filing this report.
The Commissoner for Police in the state, Aliyu Garba, who told our Correspondent that he was in a meeting, said, “There is no trouble anywhere in the state. Everywhere is fine. But I’m in a meeting with the Commandant of Civil Defense. I will get back to you.”