Ebonyi state governor, Engr. David Umahi has been counselled to immediately release of a former Commissioner for Information in the state, Chief Abia Onyike from detention.
A group, Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Disapora (AESID) lamented the arrests of Onyike among some indigenes of the state under the guise of Covid-19, even as it described the move as further proof of anti-democratic credentials of the state governemt under Umahi.
In a statement made available to newsmen Saturday in Abuja by its president, Ambassador Pascal Oluchukwu, AESID condemned the recent arrest of Onyike by the Directorate of State Security Services, DSS, on the order of Governor Umahi.
Accussing the state governor of playing politics with COVID-19, the AESID in the statement said “We are deeply saddened that Governor Umahi who made the order while giving an update on COVID-19 in the state at the Government House, Abakaliki has continued to flourish on his anti-democratic credentials even on the eve of the celebration of Nigeria’s chequered democratic experiment by ordering incessant arrests of citizens who share differing views on matters of policies and governance in his five-year-old administration.
“The crime of Chief Onyike according to the governor is the claim that he came into Ebonyi from an ‘unknown destination’ and allegedly violated the COVID-19 lockdown rules in the state by not quarantining himself.
“He was consequently barred from entering his Edda village in (Afikpo South LGA) by the anti-COVID-19 task force causing him to return to the state capital.
“We are rudely shocked that Governor Umahi could stoop so low by asking the state’s secret service to pick the former commissioner up in his Abakaliki residence for immediate isolation at its facility.
“This platform is however deeply worried that Governor Umahi’s arrest order came barely 24 hours after Chief Onyike critiqued the Governor’s 5-year old administration during a Radio Programme on 92.5 Enugu’s Dream Fm.
“It is, therefore, a clear case of the witch crying in the night only for neighbours to see the dead body of the baby the next morning and this stands truly condemned by us and every reasonable Ebonyian.”
The group also alleged that another citizen of the state from Ezza North local government area, Mr Stephen Oken was picked by the DSS on the orders of the state on unsubstantiated allegations.
“Governor Umahi has continually shown that he detests free speech which is necessary and healthy for a virile and viable democracy where citizens know their rights and privileges,” the AESID lamented.
The group advised the governor to order the release of those arrested and apologize to the people of Ebonyi state for his actions.