From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Ebonyi State Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate for the forthcoming 2023 general elections, Eze Oko Splendour, has cried out over threat to his life by desperate individuals determined to wrest the party’s ticket from him.
Narrating his ordeal in the hands of the party’s national leadership, Oko, lamented that he has not known peace since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed and published his name as the rightful candidate of the party after the governorship primary election was conducted on June 9, this year.
He told Daily Sun in a telephone chat in Abuja that a combination of repeated threats to his life and pressure from the party’s national leadership to withdraw his candidacy has forced him to go into hiding, revealing that he has also petitioned INEC over plans by the leadership of the party to conduct substitution primary without him formally withdrawing from the race.
“On June 9, this year, LP conducted primaries in Ebonyi State and I emerged the governorship candidate of the party. INEC also cleared me and published my name as the party’s flag bearer,” he narrated, adding; “however, the sad story is that the National Organising Secretary and National Chairman of our party struck a deal with an Abuja-based money bag, who joined our party from the APC after losing the ruling party’s governorship primary.”
“All of a sudden, the LP leadership started mounting excessive pressure on me to withdraw my candidacy, but I refused. They are now all over the place looking for me and I have gone into hiding because I am afraid of being kidnapped. They came with threats that if I don’t do what they want, they will not take it lightly with me.
“They even threatened to forge my signature, send it to INEC and inform the commission that I have withdrawn from the race. The information reaching me is that they have even done that already. But, I have also petitioned INEC to notify it that I have not withdrawn. I also heard that they are going ahead to conduct substitution primary on Monday to replace me and conduct that of the State Assembly on Tuesday,” he explained.
However, reminding them of the legal implication of their action, the LP governorship candidate said: “They forgot that the new Electoral Act stipulates that the nominated candidate must voluntarily withdraw with evidence before a substitution primary will be conducted. As I speak with you, I have not written any formal withdrawal letter to INEC and I am not planning to do that,” he insisted.
Defending his candidacy, Oko said: “I am ably qualified to represent the party. In 2019, I contested the governorship election against the incumbent governor, David Umahi under the Advance Congress for Democrats (ACD). My structures are still intact and I am hopeful of winning the 2023 governorship election.
“Don’t forget that Labour is a party for the youths and good enough I am also a youth. I am not a pushover and will not allow anybody to push me around. INEC published my name as the rightful LP governorship candidate in Ebonyi State,” he insisted.