Two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State have continued to attack each other over the arrest of a chieftain of the party in the state, Nwajoku Okugo, by the police.
While one faction led by the state chairman, Ben Nwoye, blames the foreign affairs minister, Godfrey Onyeama, for Mr Okugo’s arrest, another faction loyal to the minister contends that he has no hand in the arrest.
Mr Okugo was arrested over his alleged social media comment that Mr Onyeama had tested positive to COVID-19 and subsequently came to Enugu to infect the people with the virus.
He was said to have been arrested by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police intelligence unit.
Mr Okugo, who is the Youth Leader of the APC in Enugu West Senatorial Zone, was whisked away from his father’s home in Oduma, Aninri Local Government Area, on Friday.
Faction blames Minister for arrest
The APC chairman in the state, Ben Nwoye, accused the minister of using his position to oppress members of the party in the state.
Mr Nwoye, who spoke to journalists on Saturday, claimed that the minister was using his office to harass and intimidate the party members in the state and wondered why such a civil matter could lead to the continued detention of Mr Okugo without bail.
He expressed regrets that “even when the party’s legal adviser, Benjamin Nembe, and other lawyers appealed to the police to allow them take the party chieftain on bail, the police refused, insisting that they were acting on orders from above.”
Mr Nwoye said the ‘commando style’ of arresting Mr Okugo was bad.
He called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to wade into the matter, saying the continuous detention of the party chieftain without charging him to court amounted to a breach of his fundamental human rights.
“It is unfortunate that the minister who ought to be using his position to better the fortunes of the party, chose to always create unnecessary problems for the party in the state,” the party chairman said.
The APC legal adviser, who also spoke to journalists, said efforts made to take him on bail proved abortive.
“The worst is that the police refused me, Nwanjoku’s wife and other members of the family access to him,” he lamented.
Minister’s faction reacts
However, some members of the party in the state while reacting to the allegations said the minister has no hand in the arrest of the youth leader.
A chieftain of the party, Adaku Ogbu-Aguocha, in her reaction condemned the continuous attack on the minister by officials of the party in Enugu State.
Mrs Ogbu-Aguocha, who was the Enugu East senatorial candidate of APC in the 2019 general election, argued that the minister had no hand in the arrest.
According to her, the arrest of Mr Nwanjoku was a result of a petition by a member of the party to the Inspector General of Police and it has nothing to do with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“Although the minister has come under extreme provocation from diabolical and divisive forces within the party in the state; as the perfect gentleman he is, the honourable minister has always shrugged off all the numerous slurs on his character with grace,” she said
“People cannot hide under the cover of social media, maliciously concoct and spread fictitious stories that has no bases and publish same to malign the image and integrity of our leaders, then turn around to cry “intimidation”.
“So Mr. Nwanjoku and his sponsors should face the consequences of their fake news peddling and leave Mr Onyeama out of it.
“Nigerians know that the Honorable
Minister is a man of outstanding character and integrity and cannot be distracted from the excellent service he has been providing for the nation and Mr. President,” She said.
Another Enugu APC chieftain, Ginika Tor, described Mr Nwoye’s faction’s attacks on the minister as a shameful and wicked act.
“This is the height of irresponsibility on the part of those that hatched the news.
Definitely we cannot continue to look the other way while our leader’s name and reputation is constantly tarnished.
“Mr. James Nwanjoku Okugo should be made to face the music and answer for his crimes of bandying fake news in order to ridicule the reputation of a high ranking Federal Government Official because as an adult he must have weighed the consequences of his actions before embarking on this journey.
“This factional politics by Ben Nwoye and his gang has been taken too far and must be stopped,” she said.
An associate of Mr Onyeama, Collins Egbo, also said the minister had no hand in the arrest of Mr Okugo
“The minister doesn’t like getting involved in such issues. It was a member of the party who petitioned the Police”, he said.
I petitioned the Police – Minister’s Aide
Meanwhile, the personal assistant to the minister, Flavour Eze, has exonerated his principal from the travails of Mr Okugo.
Mr Eze in a statement said he was the one who wrote to the police because Mr Okugo in the said social media post also allegedly defamed his person.
He said he wrote in his personal capacity as a Nigerian who deserves justice.
“My attention has been drawn to the attempt by Mr. Ben Nwoye, a supposed Chairman of the Enugu State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to politicise a case that I reported to the police against one Nwanjoku James Okugo, who criminally defamed me through various publications in social and print media”
“The said Nwanjoku, a close associate of Ben Nwoye, alleged that the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama and I; Chief Flavour Eze, his Personal Assistant, were the two persons who tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and had gone to Enugu with the deliberate intention of spreading the disease in the state. He further called on the Government of the State to arrest us”.
Mr Eze said the sole intention of the allegations “was to cause widespread alarm and panic in the state and endanger the lives of the minister and myself by inciting hatred against us through demonization.”
“I, in my personal capacity, reported the matter to the Nigerian Police after the period given to the author of the article to retract the malicious write-up had elapsed. The police have since swung into action; arrested the suspect and are currently making progress in their investigation,” he said.
“My candid advice to them is to face the case with the police and stop looking for scapegoats”
“Meanwhile, I am not unaware of the role of Mr. Ben Nwoye, the boss of Nwanjoku in the whole affair. His time will come”, Mr Eze said.
Police refuse to speak
The police spokesman in Enugu, Daniel Ndukwe, said he does not have details of the matter.
He asked for some time to make enquiries and get back to this reporter.
Hours later he was yet to do so.
The federal police spokesman, Frank Mba, did not return calls to his phone.