– Deny allegation of oath taking
– Accuse governor of de-marketing party in Imo
The forum of local government chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has vehemently denied a recent allegation by the state Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha that they were subjected to unethical, unchristian and the satanic practice of fetish oath taking in order to be loyal to a party chieftain, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. While denying the allegations, the chairmen opened a can of worms accusing the governor and the state party chairman Dr. Hillary Eke of subtle and deliberate attempts to sidetrack and frustrate the party structure in the state.
In a recent press release signed by the LGA chairmen at Owerri which copy was made available to the Community Watchdog Newspaper, in a quick reaction to a media statement by the Governor, who had through his Chief Press Secretary alluded that Chief Araraume subjected some party members to a fetish oath taking, the members declared that as Christians who have cut their teeth in politics, as former Chairmen, Councilors, Lawyers Engineers, Bankers and respected title holders, they had no reason whatsoever to misrepresent facts about the government they jointly laboured and risked their lives to install.
They recalled the role played by the Distinguished Senator towards the success of the 2015 general and Okigwe zonal elections that brought Okorocha to power and how the governor at a meeting of stakeholders publicly expressed gratitude to Chief Araraume who he once declared, “the foremost leader of the party in the state and Okigwe zone in particular”, contending that as individuals and a group they had no secret dealings with the man, other than the welfare and progress of the party in the state.
They narrated their efforts to approach some of the party leaders in the state pledging their loyalty and seeking support for the 2019 election and that it was in the course of this efforts that they were invited by Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Araraume along with other political groups adding that at the end of their interaction they were mobilized and were not subjected to any demonic rituals or oath taking as the convener left before the closing of the meeting.
The APC Chairmen were therefore surprised when on the 6th of November 2017, they were summoned to a meeting at the governors lodge by 10:00am and His Excellency arrived about 11:30am only to accuse them of swearing to an oath and pledging to work against his government, an allegation which they all denied after which the state governor left them in the lurch and stranded at about 2:00am with no means of transport or a place to pass the night. The governor according to the release abandoned them for not agreeing to his persuasion to accuse Senator Ifeanyi Araraume of oath administration as his chief press secretary Onwnemeodo puts it.
The aggrieved party chairmen used the occasion of the press release to highlight some of their grievances against the state governor and the party state chairman Chief Hillary Eke, and noted how the party functionaries were not remunerated for the one month re-registration exercise ordered by the National Executives of the party which had since released the money involved but which has not been paid to the LGA chairmen, secretaries, ward chairmen and secretaries etc who conducted the exercise.
In addition, they narrated how the state party hierarchy has blatantly refused to obey the orders of the National Working Committee to re-instate three LGA chairmen arbitrarily suspended by Hillary Eke who in his usual contempt and disconnection, refused vehemently to put up a representation at the burial of one of the colleagues, Chief Basil Obialor (Alika) of Isiala Mbano LGA.
Other allegations leveled against the state party chairman were his inability to disburse the non-refundable expression of interest deposit of several thousand paid by all categories of aspirants in the last general election which was to be shared by all levels of the party in the state which to date has not been paid out and that contrary to the state governors directive that the sum of twenty five million naira (N25M) for party uniforms, the chairman Hillary Eke collected N2,500 from each of the APC chairmen for the envisaged uniform. This was in addition to millions of naira undisbursed funds collected by the party during the pre-elections campaigns and rallies, which took them on a tour of the 27 LGAs.
The party chairmen who said that they cannot be intimidated or harassed into submission to accept things they did not do or discredit an innocent and compassionate leader, disclosed that their difference with their traducers is because they expressed their grievance over the poor running of the party and their inclination for a level playing ground for members and leaders which the party chairman abhors arguing that with this scenario the governor and his chairman want them to be dormant and the party dead, in Imo State.