The Edda Professionals’ League (Pro-Edda), a body of eminent experts has raised that alarm about a clandestine political move going on in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State against a son of the Edda Clan, Chief Abia Onyeike.
A statement from the group made available to the media disclosed that the plan may unfold and hit the media any time from Monday, June 22 as the document drafted in Abakaliki is being signed right now.
From the findings of the Pro-Edda group, after the piece was drafted, some political office holders, traditional rulers and representatives of several interest groups are being cajoled to sign the document purportedly on behalf of all Edda to coerce Onyeike, former Commissioner for Information and Deputy president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to recant his criticism of the state government or be declared an outcast by the Edda Clan.
The Pro-Edda release signed by Ikenna Emewu, the secretary of the body and journalist noted that the plan doesn’t represent the position of the Edda people and must be disregarded as worthless and mere figment of the imagination of those behind it.
Emewu also noted that “no Edda person has the right in the laws of Nigeria or the traditions of Edda land to declare anyone an outcast just for taking a stand opposed to the government.”
The full statement read:
We have it on good authority and from very reliable sources that some political interests in Edda (Afikpo South LGA) have banded themselves together to come up with a public statement that would purport to coerce, compel, cajole and stampede Chief Abia Onyeike to tender public apology to the government of Ebonyi State and denounce whatever he had at any time said to the media about the government of the state as lie.
We also gathered that the same groups that may cut across traditional rulers, political office holders, student bodies, youth organisations or political party leaders, or even civil servants, possibly working under any influence, inducement or political and personal interest are on the verge of collecting signatures from people dubbed loosely as Edda stakeholders to champion this and most of all give Chief Onyeike a time within which to recant or face banishment, ostracism, exile, public denial or image smear or all of these.
We therefore state that whoever as traditional or body of traditional rulers or any form of group that takes such action is not for or on behalf of the Edda Clan. That would be purely on the platform of vile, virulent and sinful politics.
The Edda Professionals’ League as a group of eminent and informed Edda natives are fully aware of the traditional methods through which people are called to order in Edda in case they step outside the line and such measures don’t include disowning our own before the outer world.
We state for certain that there has never been a time the Edda Clan gathered at Osisioma, Ububa, Atamata or any of the traditional decision grounds to indict Chief Onyeike first as to bring him to public denial as consequence.
We know the history of the plan we get the feelers and it started on June 9, 2020 when Onyeike alongside two other panellists attended a discussion on Dream FM Radio Enugu and aired his views on the performance of Governor David Umahi. Right from that day, things have not been the same.
For the records, Onyeike is a member of the opposition APC in the state, and also a journalist, who by the mandate of Sections 22 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria has a legal duty to checkmate and hold the government accountable.
We have also listened to the clip of the discussion and his position on the performance of the government of the state and have not seen where Onyeike mistepped or acted ultra vires his powers as a citizen of Nigeria, an opposition politician or as a journalist.
As professionals, we would not have come to the defence of our son if he had acted wrongly, therefore as the laws of Nigeria endow him with the freedom of expression within the law, we would advise anyone trying to curtail such rights to reconsider his or her intentions.
Most of all, after Onyeike’s visit to Enugu and the radio discussions, the state executive council the following day, June 10 made his criticisms a state issue and after which the governor of the state, His Excellency David Umahi in a state broadcast on June 11 ordered that Onyeike proceeded on 14 days quarantine for travelling outside the state. That wasn’t bad or punitive by the rules of safety of the state against the spread of Covid-19, and from our findings, he is still observing the isolation.
Again, on the same June 9 after Onyeike was done with the radio discussion, a younger brother of Governor Umahi, sent Onyeike a stinker Whatsapp message attacking, insulting and threatening him for criticising his brother which was totally wrong.
That step was totally against the law as Onyeike didn’t attack or criticise the attacker’s brother, but the governor of his state.
As if that was not enough and while we still thought about how to handle this affront of personalizing governance in the state, the issue of plans by Nde Eze or any other people to coerce and compel Onyeike to recant or be disowned came up.
And since the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information on June 18 attended a discussion on the same Dream FM Enugu to fault and reply Onyeike’s criticism, we feel it has become an overkill for anyone especially in Edda to plan this most unfortunate intimidation of our son.
However, while it was right for Onyeike to be quarantined in line with the rules, after the trip of the Commissioner for Information, Hon. Uchenna Orji, we have not heard the government placed him on quarantine according to the rules. Since then, he has attended public functions and also been at his duty post. And we fear there might be something else that directs the dishing out of rules and orders in the state that brings about inequitable application.
Onyeike has not done anything wrong to criticise a government of his state and if he did any wrong, we would call that he retraces his steps and not deny or disown him.
We state without equivocation that Edda and the Pro-Edda body stand with him on this development. If the family members of the governor take it personal with him for criticising their brother rather than the Ebonyi State governor, we will be bringing Edda to ridicule before the world to deny our son; and soon, the hawks would be landing in Edda whenever they wish to take more preys until Edda would be fully subjugated.
We call that political grandstanding shouldn’t be taken rather too far in the wrong direction.
In conclusion, we urge the public to disregard any publication any day by any group or individual claiming to speak for Edda and urging punishment on Onyeike or claiming to disown him.
For the records, the Edda Clan is not a political party or the wing of any political party, therefore, some interest or bodies that should rather protect the integrity of Edda must purge itself of debasing acts of unholy interference and derogatory bad politics.