On Friday April 17, 2015 in Abakaliki town, His Excellency Chief Engr. Dave Umahi drove round the town in a motorcade fit for royalty. He stood through the sun roof of a BMW X6 car waving at his adoring supporters and well wishers. As he passed through various streets, cheers abounded from his entourage and the musical band that followed him. Indeed he had every cause to jubilate and to ask that everyone join him in jubilating as he had been declared the winner of the gubernatorial elections that took place on April 11, 2015 in Ebonyi State. So not only was he the sitting deputy governor but he was now the in-coming executive governor. It is indeed an achievement made more note worthy because of all the odds stacked against his chances of success. His own boss and acclaimed mentor did not support his ambition, in fact he openly rebelled against it! An Ibo adge says “what the old man sees sitting down, the youth on top of a tree cannot see” well in this case it appears that despite having the privillage of old age his boss had lost his vision or perhaps his wits. Time will tell.
At that same time in Ndia Agu Ishiagu Village, Nkalagu, in Ishieleu LGA of Ebonyi State Mr. Kalu Orji lay dead on a mortuary slab and his widow, children and extended family were overcome not only with grief but malice as well. It was bad enough that their son, husband and breadwinner lay dead what made it even worse was that those behind the conspiracy to murder him were out in the streets rejoicing!! Even worse was that these same conspirators were about to be rewarded with the custodianship of the state.
A true case of irony!
Before his death Kalu Orji was the Labour Party Coordinator for Nkalagu and also an accredited agent of his party at the gubernatorial elections that held on April 11, 2015 nationwide. He had made up his mind to ensure that there would not be a repeat of what had transpired two weeks ago at the senatorial elections. He had been seriously blamed and some had even accused him of romancing with the enemy, PDP. Since not only did they snatch ballot boxes, subvert votes by openly purchasing votes, intimidate those that refused but he Kalu had failed to acquire any evidence of all these neither had he made any official complaints during or after the whole charade. Therefore he had resolved that this time he would not go quietly, all procedures must be followed, where they were not demand an incident form and make sure your objections were noted plus do not sign any result sheets.
Early Saturday morning he was at his station bright and eager. He and his men went round greeting members of their community. “If they offer you money, please collect it o! and vote your mind, do not argue with them or say you are for Labour, just collect it, nod and go and vote” was their message to all and sundry. For in their own community as in many others the young Labour Party had captured the hearts and minds of the people for the fact that it was said to be the choice of their governor and it had given room for young and fresh minds to enter the political landscape. Plus it was always a sign of having a bad product to sell whenever you started by buying affection instead or earning it through dialogue and courtship.
True to their type the PDP goons came around with an impressive show of force and wealth, thugs everywhere, soldiers in military jeeps and bags of money as well as bags of rice and drinks. One would be forgiven if he mistook the venue to be a party ground instead of an election polling unit. As advised the people collected the money and sundry gifts and voted their minds. Somewhere along the line the PDP goons became worried at the non-chalant attitude of the Labour Party agents and decided to try to see how the people were voting. With the connivance of the INEC staff and Ad-hoc staff they soon learnt that it was not going their way. They now decided that before anyone is given money they must bring their ballot paper and show that it was thump printed for PDP before collecting any money. Kalu refused and said that was not how it would be done. After much yelling and shoving around it was agreed that anyone who wanted the money had to follow that pattern. As time went on it became apparent that no one was willing to be branded a saboteur by openly going to collect the money. The thugs became unruly and demanded that the election stop. Kalu said many accredited voters had not voted and as such it could be stopped; besides it was just 4pm. The thugs grew in number and insisted they must close now. Kalu then said the votes already cast must be counted and announced for the people to hear and for party agents to sign.
With a shrill cry like a demon let loose from hell, Eze Okechukwu popularly known as “IDU” screamed “Nna mennn!! Wetin sef!!” and stabbed Kalu Orji right through the heart! In broad daylight in front of over a hundred witnesses, in the presence of the policeman and civil defense officer, the INEC staff, the NYSC Corpers and accredited voters waiting to vote. There was a stunned silence followed by a lady’s scream, followed by gun shots and of course a stampede as people ran for their lives. The thugs shepherded the INEC staff into their waiting vehicle and bungled every material they could find into same vehicle and took off like bats out of hell. Kalu lay unattended for over ten minutes, slowly bleeding to death.
The doctors would later say that if he had been brought much sooner he would have survived. Even more surprising was the fact that the autopsy revealed that he had multiple stab wounds whereas most witnesses saw only the one stabbing. Even more disturbing is the fact that INEC has no report of this incident; neither did the police officer attached to polling unit 002, Ndia Agu Ishiagu, Nkalagu area make any reports. It was left to Labour agents and his family to make the report. ‘IDU’ is currently under arrest but his colleagues Christian Omeri, Ali Ogbu (aka VASCO), Friday Nnaji (aka ALIUKPAM), Amechi Egonu, Eze Chinedu and many others are still free dancing in the streets celebrating their “victory” and openly boasting that all it will take is for May 29 to come and their brother will be free and honoured.
During the run up to this election much was made of the integrity of General Mahammadu Buhari and his zero tolerance for corruption, I was one of those who refused to be swayed by such talk and I will tell you why. The corruption in our society is endemic, it’s in our blood! The fact that Kalu Orji is dead cannot be disputed. That he was attacked at a polling unit and died subsequently of the wounds he sustained is a fact. Now here are another set of facts. Eze Okechukwu ‘IDU’ will definitely go free come May 29 if not sooner. INEC will never cancel that polling unit result, nor even the rest of the state since almost every area suffered the same fate as attested to by several media reports, the fact that they do not have an incident report for that polling unit for if only the stabbing will not earn anyone a quarry. The Nigerian Police Force will say they have no evidence to prosecute and that no witnesses will come forward, their officer attached to the unit will have mysteriously been transferred or will suddenly have amnesia and won’t be able to recognize anyone.
Now how does electing one man, who yes, has zero tolerance for corruption, affect all these people? Will he from Abuja or wherever insist that they do the right thing or force them to do the right thing? These people involved in all of this, let’s call them the enablers, don’t they have families, elders, religious leaders etc? Will anyone condemn them or denounce them? Will anyone ostracise them or deny them their company.
Such is life. Ce le vie!