A date is yet to be fixed for the rerun between Dr Alex Egbona of the APC and John Gaul Lebo of the PDP, as ordered by the court of appeal in Calabar. The rerun is for Ekureku 1and 2. But tension is already building up in the place, due to speculations of plots by some politicians suspected to be loyal to the PDP, to invade Ekureku with hired, imported thugs, to enable them secure victory.
Egbona’s campaign manager who is also a former Abi Local Government chairman, Chuks Agube, spoke with some journalists on the issue.
What do you make of the recent judgement of the court of appeal on the case involving Alex Egbona and the former speaker of Cross River State?
It was an admixture of excitement and deep introspection as we listened to the chairman of the Appeal Panel read the judgment in the matter between Dr. Alex Egbona and Hon. John Gaul Lebo. This is so because days to that judgment, our opponents who would never ever place premium of integrity on whatever they do started celebrating on Facebook for a judgment that had not been delivered. We were worried because they did same at the trial tribunal and it came to pass, that they were privy to the decision. It was also reported that the governor had in a meeting with his supporters informed them that this judgment had again been compromised. So, you can imagine the inward aggression and the associated fear and panic that greeted our supporters as a result of that information. But they were disappointed when the court failed to declare them winners, but instead ordered a rerun in two wards. That decision of the court of appeal suggests that we still have hope in our judiciary. The decision was not business as usual and we are happy about it. It was a win win situation.
A re-run was ordered by the court. How ready is the APC for the election?
We are very ready. Though I am not the chairman of APC, however, our able state chairman, Sir John Ochalla has already made a statement accepting the verdict of the court of appeal and stating the readiness of our party, the APC, for the rerun. But in my capacity as the Director -General of Dr. Alex Egbona Campaign Organization, I can say without fear of contradiction, that we are ready for the rerun. Remember that the election is purely an Ekureku affair. I have interacted with them and for all practical purposes, I believe based on their responses, that Ekureku as a community will do even better now. The recent setback has brought a resurgent commitment to the unity of the people, for according to them, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. They supported an Itigidi man, His Excellency Governor Imoke to become governor. They also supported an Adadama man, Hon. John Gaul Lebo to become speaker. They must support their own too.
People have raised concerns about alleged plans by some people to cause mayhem during the rerun. Are you aware of this?
We are aware of the plans by supporters of John Gaul and even the government of the day in the state to cause mayhem during the rerun. Don’t forget that nothing is hidden under this planet earth. We are aware of what they are planning with certain persons from Ugep and beyond. The dimensions of the plans is dangerous. This to me is borne out of frustration to bring down a man who God has anointed. Generally, the obvious hostile disposition of Governor Ben Ayade with the PDP extraction from Ekureku during his meeting with him is a clear manifestation of their desperation. The removal of some chiefs from Ekureku in the payroll of the state government was part of the orchestrated and devious machinations to intimidate and destroy by the fabric on which the Ekureku people stand. I am told that state government is now using it to negotiate for support from the chiefs. But let me say this, it would be fatal for the state to overlook the urgency of the moment just because of partisanship. For those whose care about Abi, and particularly the Agbo nation, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all. Let the APC and PDP elements in Ekureku do their election. There are rules and regulations guiding elections. Anyone who has no business being in Ekureku should please stay away.
During the last general elections, the immediate past governor, senator Liyel Imoke was at Ekureku to urge the people not to vote for Alex Egbona. Do you foresee this happening again during the rerun?
I was the Director General of Alex Campaign Organization and so I knew all that transpired during the election. For His Excellency Governor Imoke to gather the good people of Ekureku, including their chiefs urging them not to vote for Dr. Alex , the son of Egbona in the Land of Ekureku was sacrilege. He did not even tell them the crime Dr. Alex committed. You can imagine if anybody had gone to Itigidi to do same to him. Anyway, I don’t think he will repeat the same thing this time. Remember that Dr Alex enjoys the unreserved friendship and confidence of the greater Abi, and particularly the Agbo people. His work and strong personality allowed him to be trusted and accepted by his people. I advise His Excellency Governor Imoke to do away with this cup of bitterness and hatred against the person of Dr. Alex, but to conduct his struggle for power on the high plane of dignity and discipline which we knew him for. He is a man in whom we all had confidence. Let his leadership speak for him by encouraging smooth and peaceful election in the land of Ekureku. Governor Ayade is dancing around his people of Obudu in love and peace. I believe after the rerun, we would still have a place called Abi.
Your statement that it is “suspected ” is just because you are trying to be civil, otherwise, what you are saying is real. The PDP government headed by governor Ben Ayade has employed all kinds of undemocratic methods to stop Dr. Alex from winning this election. He collaborates with our brothers here to carry out the hideous attacks on him. If you cannot force people to decide matters the way you want it, can’t you remove your hands? During the general election, he employed army to intimidate the people of Ekureku. One of the lost his leg. The PDP government even sent some security personnel from the state to ranksaked the residence of Dr Alex at his country home. Even after the judgement of the trial tribunal, they sent a team of policemen to his home in Calabar shooting sporadically. We are also aware of the plans been put together at Ugep which I earlier mention. The intimidation of the chiefs in the community and even the transfer and outright sacking of civil servants who are not in their support. This is detestable. Preponderance of evidence points to the fact that the state government is using its institutions to suppress one single individual. All these is based on the seeds of falsehood being sown by John Gaul and his cohorts. You cannot force an unpopular person on the people. Whatever they are doing would be nullified by the towering personality of Dr. Alex. His personal quality assailed any misgivings. He is still inarguably one of our very best.
It is suspected that the ruling party in the state intends to use some government institutions to win the election. What are your fears?
Your statement that it is “suspected ” is just because you are trying to be civil; otherwise, what you are saying is real. The PDP government has employed all kinds of undemocratic methods to stop Dr. Alex Egbona from winning this election. If you cannot force people to decide matters the way you want it, can’t you remove your hands? During the general election, they employed the Army to intimidate the people of Ekureku. One of them lost his leg. The PDP government even sent some security personnel from the state to ransack the residence of Dr Alex Egbona at his country home. Even after the judgement of the trial tribunal, they sent a team of policemen to his home in Calabar, shooting sporadically. We are also aware of the plans being put together at Ugep, which I earlier mentioned. The intimidation of the chiefs in the community and even the transfer and outright sack of civil servants who are not in their support, is detestable. The preponderance of evidence point to the fact that the state government is using its institutions to suppress one single individual. All this is based on the seeds of falsehood being sown by John Gaul and his cohorts. You cannot force an unpopular person on the people. Whatever they are doing would be nullified by the towering personality of Dr. Alex. His personal quality assailed any misgivings. He is still inarguably one of our very best.