I did not sponsor thugs to disrupt bye-election in Obudu - APC guber aspirant

Governorship aspirant of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Cross River State, Barr. Venatius Ikem has refuted allegation that he sponsored thugs to disrupt the recently held Obudu state constituency bye-election.

Ikem who was reacting to allegation leveled against him by the state government in a statement personally signed by him said that the claim was designed to give credence to the plot by Governor Ben Ayade to have him arrested for no justifiable reason.

He disclosed that few days to the bye-election, the government made several unsuccessful attempts to have him arrested and having fail in the plan, some aides working at the behest of the Governor have resorted to frame him up in the media just to have their way.

"My attention has been drawn to a Press statement issued by some
Members of the Cross River State Exco accusing me and Hon Paul Adah
of importing thugs to disrupt and unleash violence during the just
concluded Bye-election in Obudu. Nothing could be farther from the
truth than this.

"At all material times, I did not and will never get involved in any violent
or cult activities for the purpose of winning elections. I remain fully
committed to the ideals of democracy, freedom of expression and the
right to freedom of Association.

The action of the State Exco by addressing a press conference was
designed simply to distort the facts of the just concluded bye-elections
and give credence to the desperate and unfortunate plot by the state
governor to have me arrested at all cost and for no just cause.
Barr. Venatius Ikem, APC governorship aspirant

It is public knowledge that the Government of Sen. Ayade during the
week of the bye-election made several efforts to obtain a warrant for my arrest without success. Two ex parte applications, made to a magistrate court by the State Attorney General within one week, were all rejected. An application/request for my arrest made to the Commissioner of Police Cross River State during the period was equally turned down", the statement reads in part.

Continuing, he maintained that "the current accusation leveled against my person by some members of the State Exco, led by the Attorney General and the Commissioner for Information, through their so called world press conference, is simply part of the desperate attempts by the state government to find a reason and a justification for my arrest. The Exco members are simply doing the bidding of their master the Governor".

He added that "It is on record that several attempts have been made on my life since the PDP primaries in 2014 and the period following my defection to the
APC and my declaration to vie for the governorship of the state. In
fact, my declaration at the ward and local government were disrupted
by thugs ostensibly sponsored by the state government. Unfortunately,
some of the main actors fingered in the various attacks on my person and activities have since been given state government appointments".

Giving account of what transpired in Obudu during the bye-election, he said that the
APC candidate, Mr Adah Ishamali was forced to abandon his campaign following violent attacks by thugs suspected to be state sponsored.

"His (Mr. Ishamali) campaign trail was attacked variously and homes of his main supporters, including my humble self,
attacked and vandalized with many people shot and injured. All these
were reported at the Police headquarters in Abuja when the local police
authorities could not even as much as incident our complaints on the
unwarranted violence unleashed on us", he said.

"The bye-election in Obudu was characterized by violence, intimidation,
ballot box snatching, thumb printing, etc as desperate political appointees from Obudu, who could not win the support of the people, resorted to these tactics to deliver the Governor’s candidate as a cover up for their rejection by the people.

"This is the background to the bye election of August 11, 2018 in
Obudu and the desperate attempts by the state government to hound
all opposition elements and cow them to submission, especially in the
build up to 2019 general elections", he said.

It will be recalled that the Attorney General of the State, Barr. Joe Abang and the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong last week during a " World Press Conference "at the Exco chambers, Governor's office alleged that, Barr. Ikem and Rt. Hon. Paul Adah, another APC governorship aspirant imported thugs to disrupt the bye-election in Obudu.

Hon. Adah has since dismissed the allegation describing it as "Childish, malicious and unfortunate".

Ikem and Adah who are justling to unseat the Governor are from same local government (Obudu) and state constituency with Ayade.
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