Peter Obi’s supporters accuse Umahi of using police to disrupt solidarity rally

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Supporters of Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 election, on Saturday, accused Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State of using the state police command to disrupt their solidarity rally in Abakaliki.
The supporters and residents ran when policemen rained teargas canisters on them.
But, some of the supporters stood to challenge the policemen.
They alleged that Umahi used the policemen to disrupt their rally.
After about one hour of confusion, the supporters later reorganised for the rally.
LP leaders and members had gathered as early as 9 am along Mile 50 within the metropolis to show support for the former Anambra State governor.

The rally scheduled to commence from the Pastoral Centre along Mile 50 in the state capital, could not start as the policemen, who had stationed at the two entry points, disrupted the organisers with the use of teargas canisters.

Despite having a shaky start, the Peter Obi solidarity train moved from the Pastoral Centre along Mile 50 through Enugu Abakaliki Expressway, to the city centre and back to the same venue where it all began.

But, in his swift reaction, Umahi denied ordering the disruption of the solidarity rally by Obi’s supporters.

“If it is true that the police dispersed the people, the answer will surely rest with the police,” said a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Chooks Oko.

Below is the statement:

“THE GOVERNOR ORDERED NO DISRUPTION

The attention of the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State has been drawn to some online publications and rumours making the rounds that he ordered the disruption of a gathering in support of one of the presidential candidates in the 2023 elections. This is not true.

The Governor of Ebonyi State is certainly not aware of any disruption of any gathering as he didn’t order any. He is a democrat who believes firmly in the rule of law. He wishes every contending politician the very best and will insist on a level playing ground for all. If it is true that the police dispersed people, the answer will surely rest with the police.

For record purposes, the relevant government agencies had approved the use of Abakaliki township stadium for a rally by the Labour Party, subject to the payment of some specified fees. Rather than pay the fees, it was gathered, the organisers chose to empty into the streets causing some untold hardships on the hapless citizens going about their daily pursuits.

The police, we are told, had to step in to restore law and order.

The Governor appeals to all citizens to always abide by the dictates of the law and decent living so that law and order will always reign supreme.

He wishes all political parties and their candidates well and enjoins all to play the game by the rules”.

In a related development, supporters of Obi and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, staged a solidarity rally in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, on Saturday.
Thousands of supporters trooped tonthe streets with placards and banners, reading: ‘In 2023, Peter Obi is our candidate’, ‘Nigerians, only Peter Obi can turn our country around in 2023’, ‘Don’t waste your votes, support Peter Obi’.
Also, a coalition of support groups held a solidarity march on Saturday in Awka, Anambra State in support of Obi.

The groups marched from Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka through Eke-Awka Road to the Enugu-Awka Expressway.

The solidarity march was organised by the Coalition for Peter Obi (CPO), in conjunction with about 60 other support groups.

The marchers raised placards some of which read: “Obi-Datti for Presidency 2023’’, “Obi is the one to unify Nigeria’’, and “Peter Obi will create jobs and wealth for Nigerians’’.

Others read: “There is no polling unit on social media; get involved’’, “Nigerians wake up and vote wisely’’, “It is Peter Obi or Nothing’’, and “Peter Obi will rescue Nigeria’’, among others.

Mr Chidi Nzekwe, Anambra Lead Coordinator of CPO said the rally was to sensitise residents on the need to be involved in the electoral process to achieve the desired change in the country.

“We want to sensitise people on the need to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and be well mobilised to vote at the 2023 general elections.

“The crowd, especially the youths that came out for this solidarity march is an indication that we need a disruptive system to drive good governance; and we believe Peter Obi is the right candidate.

“He is capable and competent to lead Nigeria to the promise land and we urge the electorate to come out en masse and vote wisely for a better Nigeria.

“We also urge INEC to ensure it conducts free, fair, transparent and credible general elections in 2023,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Mr Chekwube Mmaduabuchi, Southeast Director on Mobilisation at the CPO, said the rally was to create awareness about Obi ahead of 2023 and to sensitise people on the Labour Party’s logo.

Operatives of various security agencies followed the marchers, provided security and ensured a peaceful rally.

Sixty-one-year-old Obi hails from Agulu in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra and was a former governor in Anambra.

Obi became LP’s presidential candidate in May.

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