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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Benue APC: Between Justice and Political Correctness – Daniel Onjeh 

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So recently, I watched again, The Passion of Christ which Mel Gibson produced, in which Pontius Pilate told the Jews that every year, he releases a prisoner to them. He thereafter, brought Barabbas (a murderer) and asked the ruckus group whom he should set free between the notorious criminal and the innocent Jesus. The animated Jewish crowd responded vociferously, “Barabbas!” I watched Barabbas descend the stairs amid loud cheers from the crowd. I also watched Barabbas give his Roman captors a self-justified smile.

Please, just where did I go wrong by seeking redress against the injustice that was meted out on me in the last general election? I raised very pertinent issues that neither the alleged culprit nor his “go-go-go” supporters have addressed. The witnesses I mentioned in my petition are still alive, and have not refuted my claims.

I mentioned that the suspended Benue State APC chairman, Mr. Austin Agada, visited the current deputy governor, H.E. Dr Sam Ode mni, in his house in Abuja, and begged him to work clandestinely for my PDP opponent in the 2023 Benue South senatorial election, Sen. Abba Patrick Moro, of which Dr. Ode honourably and diplomatically declined. Also, I mentioned that the suspended chairman swapped my agents with compromised agents in favour of his friend, Sen. Moro, in spite of fulfilling my obligation to the party by paying for the enlistment of all my party agents for the said election.

Furthermore, I stated that at the heat of the electioneering campaigns, the suspended chairman transferred money through a proxy into Sen. Moro’s GTB and Fidelity Bank accounts, on the 5th and 8th of December 2022, respectively, and I provided receipts of these cash transfers as evidence of my claim.

In a similar vein, the suspended chairman transferred N5 million to the Labour Party senatorial candidate in the election, Hon. Joseph Ojobo, who had earlier declared his support for me after losing to Moro in the PDP primary.

The suspended chairman doled out the money to Hon. Ojobo with the intent of encouraging him to fly the Labour Party’s flag, all in a bid to split my usual block votes, knowing that Hon. Ojobo and I hail from the same local government, Ogbadibo.

The suspended party chairman also directed the withholding of funds earmarked for election day logistics, only to share the funds after the election, as compensation to those with whom he acted in cahoots. Not to mention that the suspended chairman, Agada, also hoarded the agents’ tags for the election in most of my strongholds, thereby denying my supporters and genuine agents the opportunity to participate effectively in the election. What else can be better described as anti-party, and what does our party, the APC, prescribe as penalty for offenses of this nature?

Meanwhile, there has been no denial, refutal, explanation or apology from Mr. Agada in all of these, yet, I’m falsely accused of being sponsored by Governor Alia to write a petition against the suspended chairman. If that be the case, one will wonder who sponsored the suspended chairman to display this degree of hatred against me without consideration for my efforts, sacrifices, and agonies in the last 12 tortuous years of contesting for the Benue South senatorial seat?

Perhaps, my only offense was to have bought the embattled young man, Agada, a Ford salon car, which was his first vehicle ever, and equally made him my campaign’s director of organization during the 2016 rerun election between Sen. David Mark and I. But, despite all of their conspiracy to embarrass me, including manipulating the process, mangling and mutilating the results of the election, they later confessed that not less than 60,000 Benue South people showed me genuine love during the last general election. That was all I needed to know to establish as a matter of fact that my efforts for all these years have not been in vain.

After the election, as I was preparing for the election petition tribunal, I called the suspended chairman to avail me of the list of party agents he submitted to INEC, to enable me retrieve all the duplicates of the results used for the election for onward forwarding to my lawyers, but he ignored me. I approached the tribunal without a single APC party agent. I had to rely on members of the Labour Party and the NNPP as my witnesses.

How would you feel, when a soldier who is meant to protect you, turns around and faces you with his gun in the middle of a road? That was what happened to me in the last election. The party, which was saddled with the responsibility to protect my votes, compromised my election. This is the same party which we dissipated our time, resources and energy to build over the years, but those who were privileged to reap where they never sowed ended up backstabbing us.

Always remember where you stand on either side of the divide at any point or moment in life defines your moral position in history. The easy choice is usually the path of dishonour, while the difficult one is that of honour.

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