By Ikeugonna Eleke
On Thursday, June 8, the Anambra State House of Assembly was thrown into panic mode. This came as the Seventh Assembly was working towards the inauguration of the 8th Assembly.
The 7th Assembly was holding its valedictory sitting to wrap up its session, with the hope of the next assembly coming on board, when the incident happened.
In Anambra State, there had been a serious disruption in the composition of the 8th Assembly because of the Peter Obi Tsunami which caused many sitting members to miss the opportunity of returning to the House.
Out of the 30 members of the Anambra House of Assembly, a total of 22 members of the Anambra State 7th Assembly, including the Speaker, Rt Hon Uchenna Okafor, and many principal officers of the House, failed to secure reelection and would not be part of the 8th Assembly which was inaugurated on June 12. Okafor, who was proposed to continue as Speaker did not only lose, but lost to a rookie politician.
It was in the spirit of the valedictory session where the old members were being prepared for their exit and the new members being prepared for the commencement of their legislative duties that the commotion of that Thursday happened.
According to sources, three unmarked vehicles, all with tinted glasses, drove into the assembly complex while the valedictory session was on, and laid in wait in the compound, until the event was over and the old and new members were pouring out of the chambers, when the occupants of the strange vehicles struck.
The men were said to be men of the Department of State Services (DSS), and had the mission of arresting the then member-elect, Mr Augustine Onyekachukwu Ike, from Nnewi North State Constituency.
To situate this in better perspective, Mr Ike was a candidate of Young Progressives Party, (YPP), the party which has Senator Ifeanyi Ubah as its national leader. Ubah hails from Nnewi, and represents Anambra North in the Senate. Ike, a young and courageous blogger who operated in Nnewi, is widely known to owe his loyalty to Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, who is alleged to have financed his election.
Meanwhile, sources who spoke to Fides said there had been an ego war going on in Nnewi. Nnewi North Local Government Area is reputed to be the single local government in Nigeria, with the largest concentration of billionaires.
The town parades several industrialists, manufacturers and businessmen, who have been noted for their penchant for investing in the town (business wise), before expanding to other parts of the country.
A source who spoke to Fides on the recent rivalry that led to the failed abduction of the lawmaker, said it was between Senator Ifeanyi Ubah and foremost businessman, Chief Cletus Ibeto.
Our source who refused to be named, said: ‘You may not know Nnewi people, but no matter the dominance an Nnewi man may have anywhere in the world, he also wants to make impact in his community. That is how Ibeto and Ifeanyi Ubah have been having these crises.
‘Let me break it down for you. Even though Ubah and Ibeto are not the only rich people in Nnewi, quite recently, two of them have been having a running battle over who runs the town. While Ibeto is having an upper hand in the community affairs, including installing leaders of Nzukora Nnewi, the apex socio cultural organisation in Nnewi, Ifeanyi Ubah is busy empowering young men who will take over leadership, tomorrow.
‘Ibeto appoints the leadership in the community, and because of his influence, whatever you want to contribute, the leaders will shout you down and tell you that their master has given orders. But Ifeanyi is using a disruptive means, and he is empowering young boys who are now challenging Ibeto. This has not gone down well with Ibeto. Today, if you come to Nnewi, Ifeanyi Ubah controls almost all the youths in the community.
He has a cult following among young people, and has been very dedicated in empowering them. So, while Ubah controls the youths, including security in the town, Ibeto is in charge of the town union. But because you know that the youths are more in number and also daring, they sometimes counter the decisions of the leadership of the town union, and this is seen as Ubah having an upper hand, so Ibeto has not been happy over this.
‘Onyekachukwu Ike (the lawmaker), a young man, a blogger, is one of those who Ifeanyi Ubah saw his courage and decided to empower him. He (Ubah) financed his election from start to finish because Ubah saw his courage. But truth is that the young man has been going overboard, challenging many decisions of Ibeto in Nnewi, and Ibeto decided to teach him a lesson. That was how his arrest was plotted with DSS. That is what we have heard in Nnewi here.
‘If he had been successfully arrested, he would have remained in detention until the end of the swearing in, but many people think he miscalculated. Ibeto failed to realise that the young man, having been elected, is no longer a private individual, and so, the attempt to arrest him was met with stiff opposition, including security operatives guarding the House of Assembly, the lawmakers themselves and even the state government, who thought it to be an affront on them. That was how the young man was saved.’
Ike had been arrested in the assembly complex and bundled into a waiting vehicle belonging to the DSS operatives, when an alarm was raised and the security men at the gate of the assembly complex shut the gate, preventing them from taking him out, before the former Speaker of the Assembly, Uche Okafor, and the Deputy Governor, Dr Onyekachi Ibezim, who was at the valedictory session, quickly intervened.
When Fides reached Senator Ifeanyi Ubah for reaction to find out if he was truly having a running battle with the business mogul, and what he felt about the attempt to abduct his godson, Ubah simply described the development as sad. When prodded further, Ubah refused to budge. He also refused to disclose if he truly had any problems with anyone in the community.
Attempts to reach Chief Ibeto, who is popular by the name – Omekannaya of Nnewi, and regarded as the godfather of many up and coming businessmen in Nnewi were unsuccessful.
An indigene of the community, Mr Sunday Ejike, a business man who spoke to Fides said: ‘I cannot give you the phone number of Omekannaya. I can only tell you that all those things you heard are speculations. Our Oga doesn’t have problem with anybody. If you come to Nnewi, most of the successful young men in business are all people that grew through Omekannaya. He is highly respected here in Nnewi.’