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WHODUNNIT?

Posted by By STEVE NWOSU on 2008/07/24 | Views: 1487 |

WHODUNNIT?


That one is not talking about Chief T.A. Orji in the past tense today, is probably as a result of some divine intervention which ensured that the traducers of the Abia State Executive Governor did not have their way at Ngwuiyiekwe, Ugwunagbo Local Government Area of the state, as his aides made their way to the Port Harcourt international airport, Tuesday.

That one is not talking about Chief T.A. Orji in the past tense today, is probably as a result of some divine intervention which ensured that the traducers of the Abia State Executive Governor did not have their way at Ngwuiyiekwe, Ugwunagbo Local Government Area of the state, as his aides made their way to the Port Harcourt international airport, Tuesday.

On that fateful morning, unknown gunmen ambushed the governor's convoy (before it could pick up His Excellency), sprayed every car therein with rain of bullets and even succeeded in making away with two of the vehicles, including one believed to be a bullet-proof SUV.

In the hail of bullets, of course, many members of the convoy ran for dear lives, abandoning the vehicles in which they were traveling.

But soon after the attack, the question on every lip now is: who did it? For not a few people are convinced that it is not your everyday-armed robbery story.
Gov. Orji himself who was yet to join the convoy at the time of the attack, has suggested one of the places the investigators looking into the shooting should train their search light. Hear him: "This is not an armed robbery at all, because I don't see why they should start shooting at every car in the governor's convoy. Is the governor's convoy a bullion van that carries money? No. That is an attempt to assassinate me and my entourage"

Opposition: guilty as charged?
When yet to be identified assailants opened fire on the convoy of Governor Theodore Ahamefula Orji of Abia State last Tuesday, it was probably an attack that many close watchers of the emerging trend in Abia politics had seen it coming.

And even the governor confirmed it Tuesday afternoon. According to the governor, there was security report that such a daredevil act was actually in the offing.
Orji also pointed in the direction the attack might be coming from: "We have a court case in the appeal tribunal. I am there with them. We will struggle there. They don't want to allow these men of integrity, men of repute to look into that case and then decide and tell us the truth. They know what will happen and that is why they are planning now to eliminate me. But all their plans will be in vain because they will never triumph".

So, even while the police are yet to come out with a report, the governor is not making any pretenses that this attack might be another manifestation of the desperation of the PDP opposition in Abia.
The reason is understandable: Of all the states where there is serious opposition to the sitting governor, the Abia opposition has remained arguably the bitterest of all. It has found it hard to believe it would be outside of government for yet another four - if not eight years. After failing to wrest the state from former governor Orji Uzor Kalu for the eight years that he was there, the opposition had thought that a 'Kalu protégé' would not be difficult to dislodge. But T.A. Orji, quiet and soft on the outside appearance, has proved an equally dogged fighter.

But the opponents are not giving up, as an insider in the factional PDP camp boasted to this writer some two weeks ago, "we are beginning another front of the fight. We will fight in the courts, on the streets and on the pages of the newspapers and magazines. This injustice (referring to the landslide electoral victory of T.A. Orji from prison last year) must not stand".

Incidentally, three days after that conversation, an aide of the governor called to complain about a smear campaign that is running in the media. It was a complaint he restated few hours after the Tuesday attack.
Hear him: "they are desperate, they have been fighting on all fronts. Didn't you see the front-page report on (name of newspaper withheld by us) the other day trying to insinuate a disagreement that does not exist? Have you not read them saying that T.A (the governor) is fighting Kalu who is in turn fighting his mother, all that trash? Haven't you read about how they are trying to misrepresent the case of the Abia tribunal? How they, scared that the tribunal goofed in it's verdict and that the court of appeal is most likely going to overturn it, are doing everything to change the case and get at the governor by other means? We understand all the antics, but this is definitely taking it too far".

Like his principal, the aide is convinced that the Tuesday attack had nothing to do with robbery. "It was either to kill the man or abduct him. But the veracity of this claim is left for the police currently investigating the matter.

Abia's militants
But there is also the possibility that opposition politicians might actually not have anything to do with all.
For sometime now, Abia state has been growing its own brand of militants. Youths from the Ngwa axis of the state have decided to take up the fight against the perceived marginalization of Ngwaland in Abia politics a step further. They have literally turned the highways - to and from their area - into a no-go-area. Even in broad-daylight, they block the road and rob people at will. Like some of the Niger Delta militants in the creeks, they engage in all manner of criminality all in the name of seeking redress for perceived socio-political injustice.

The police have been relatively unable to curb this development. But community and opinion leaders from the area have countered that it is not necessarily Ngwa youths that are perpetrating the atrocities. A PPA chieftain from the area told Daily Sun in confidence thus: That it is happening in our place does not mean it is by our people. The bulk of our people are behind this government the same way they supported the government of Orji Kalu".

He explained further: "You live in Lagos, would you say all the robberies in Lagos are carried out by Lagos indigenes?"
According to him, it is possible the gunmen were really robbers and that the governor's convoy merely ran into them.

However, he quickly raised the poser as to what manner of robber would see a convoy going its way and suddenly launch an assault, when you know that a convoy is made up of many arms-bearing personnel that would hold their own against any robbery gang. According to him, "most robbers would either lay low and let convoy drive past, or simply run away after firing a few shots into the air. My feeling is that these ones came prepared".

A governor as his own problem
Many people - both in and outside of government in Abia State - are in agreement that Chief T.A Orji does not take security as serious as a governor normally should.
Probably, this has to do with his simplicity disposal. Convinced that he has a divine mandate to be governor, Orji also believes he enjoys divine protection, and that is why he was not in the convoy on Tuesday.

Consequent upon this conviction, Orji, most times, does not move around with the full complement of security details that should statutorily accompany a public officer of his status.
The feeling is that if the convoy that was going to pick up the governor from the airport had full complement of security details, it would have been unlikely that it would be outgunned by and bunch of robbers - except, of course, as seemed to be the case on Tuesday, it was an outright ambush preplanned and expertly co-ordinated.

But as an aide of the governor's told Daily Sun, it is becoming increasingly necessary to beef up security around Abia's Number One citizen.

Of course the State's commissioner of information, Sir Ralph Egbu conceded Tuesday that the attack is a challenge that would necessarily call for a restrategizing of the security measures around the governor.

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