Shooting at Abia guber debate venue •Students take over, try to confront gov


There was pandemonium yesterday, following sporadic shooting by security aides of the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, at Abia Hotels Ltd, in Umuahia, the  state capital.

The state hotel was the  venue of the well-advertised Abia governorship debate, organised by online media practitioners in the state, through online radio and some private radio stations.

The debate, like other ones in many places, was to ascertain the qualities of candidates who want to govern the state. learnt that the debate had just ended and the candidates were coming in to the hall when confusion ensued as a result of  sporadic shooting to disperse chains of human barricade, formed by students of various schools to stop  governor Ikpeazu from leaving until he had addressed them.

The students had  insisted that Ikpeazu, who had already entered his vehicle and was ready to go should come down and address them.

Led by one of their own,  they made a human barricade, insisting  that they must have their way.

Frightened  that  this might lead to the mobbing of the governor,  the security operatives of the governor shot sporadically, to disperse the mob that was already forming.

As the shooting was going on, other security operatives descended on the students’ leader and beat him black and blue, and left him bleeding when  their principal escaped.

As this was going on, the sporadic guns shots made  everybody to scamper for safety, as some elderly men and women,  including newsmen fell into the gutter. learnt that each of the candidates paid N1million to participate at the debate and those who could not pay the fee were not given the opportunity to speak  during the debate.

The development raised a lot of grumbling among the candidates of some of the small parties who were not given the opportunity to speak, due to non-payment of the  fee.

Candidates who participated include governor Ikpeazu of the People’s Democratic Party, Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Dr. Blessing Nwagba of Social Democratic Party, and the candidate of Accord Party, Emeka Nwakolam.

The candidate of the All Progressive Congress Dr. Sampson Uchechukwu Ogah, was absent.

An eyewitness account said immediately the gun shot was heard outside the hall, students, who felt dishonoured by the refusal  of the state governor to come down and address them, rushed into the hall and started up-turning chairs and tables to express their displeasure.

At that juncture, attendees started jumping out from any available escape route they could find.

A journalist, who pleaded anonymity, said the debate had just ended when the governor and other candidates stepped out of the hall, while those who were not allowed to speak due to non-payment of N1million fee grumbled as they headed towards the gate.

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