2023: Opposition Parties Are Under Threat in Ebonyi-IPAC Chairman


The Acting chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, an umbrella body housing all the opposition parties in Ebonyi state and Accord Party state chairman, Hon Ani Pascal in this exclusive interview with our Correspondent, bared his mind on the political developments in the state and said the opposition parties are under threat.

Here’s the excerpt:

May i know you Sir?

My name is Honourable Ani Ndubuisi Pascal.
I am the Chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, and State chairman, Accord Party, Ebonyi State Chapter.

What’s your assessment so far in recent development in the state and your view in preparation to 2023 election?

Okay, my view is that from the just concluded national submit, that national IPAC organized, with National Policy and Statistics Studies, NPSS, we have learnt that the election of 2023 is going to be free, fair without grudges. That your (Ebonyians) votes will be count.

Sir, Ebonyi State recently has been faced with alot of issues including the attack on posters of candidates of various opposition parties, as IPAC chairman, were you affected and even if you were not affected, what do you have to say over it?

Seriously, you know IPAC as a body is a council that houses other political parties and INEC is one of our partners. So, for that very reason, anything that affected political party, affected me. I felt bad for seeing other political parties posters, billboards being removed from who, I don’t know.

My concern is that our Governor has been doing well, but he should maintain his work; that infrastructural governor he is, he should advice his boys to allow opposition parties to be free in their campaign and I am advising the candidates of the various political parties to do their normal political campaign in issue-based. So, the tearing of someone’s posters is not normal. I have gone to other states and I can see posters, billboards from different political parties.

That you are in a ruling political party today is not forever. Let us welcome other political parties so that the election will be friendly business.

With popularity of some Guber candidate in the state, will we say IPAC have endorsed the choice candidates of the governor of the State?

As far as I know, IPAC I said earlier is members of different political party. So, we have not endorsed any candidate. If government in power endorses; it is their personal business I have not endorsed any candidate. And in as much as I know, IPAC of Ebonyi State Chapter have not endorsed any candidate as their sole candidate. We are still watching, we are still looking at their manifestos to know who we think is the suitable candidate that we can support. But for now, IPAC is neutral.

Our concern is to make sure that the security agencies, including INEC, that they conduct free, fair election in Ebonyi State. And I want to advice the electorates. They should not bother of anything. That this election of 2023 must be count. We are ready for the election.

As concern the ban on primary schools and public facilities on political parties. As IPAC Chairman. What is your take on it Sir?

Okay, it was unfortunate that from last week or last two weeks, I was away from the town because of my mother’s burial. In as much as I know, from last week or last two weeks, from the meeting we just did on 30th of last month, the IG, Inspector General of Police, have given us order that any candidate that wants to go on with his rally, that what he should do is that he should go to CP and write to him to officially that he wants to go for rally and CP will give him the security that he needs for the rally. But in a case that if the CP did not adhere to that instruction, that we should go ahead and report the matter to the Zone 9. You know Ebonyi is not in Zone 13 again. We report to Zone 9. That Zone 9 is in Umuahia.
So very soon now, we will make the phone number of AIG Zone 9 public for all the Ebonyians so that we make sure that 2023 is violence free.

Sir, recently, there have been fire outbreak in INEC offices and most people and groups have come out to say things, some are accusing opposition parties. So, What is your advice to government?

Actually, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State I know have been a good friendly governor to the state. The truth is that most of a times, some irregular works that have been going on in the state in the name of governor directive, for instance now, when I as IPAC Chairman was abducted with one Earnest Nweze lead by the Ebubeagu boys on the venue of the official IPAC meeting. So those things now people that just came new in the state will assume it that it was governor’s directives.

There are some things that have been happening in the state without governor’s directives. So that kind of a thing like burning of INEC offices in Izzi, LG, Iboko as Headquarter .

I cannot just say that they are responsible for the burning. But at least, we have Ebubeagu boys who had been busy adopting innocent souls. Personally, I was doing, handling my normal meeting as the legitimate IPAC Chairman and I was abducted.

So why not choose Ebubeagu boys that have been abducting people that did not committed any crime to secure the place, why not them monitor that kind of a thing?

So, I want to advice our governor to speak with the security agents, more especially the Ebubeagu boys.
If there is a kind of saying that the security challenge in Ebonyi has not tackled, that what they are doing is just to obstruct the business of opposition parties.
Assuming they are intact, they cannot allow such a thing to happen in Iboko, the headquarter of Izzi LGA.

How will you describe the relationship of IPAC in Ebonyi with the state government?

One is that IPAC has been enjoying their freedom from, let me say, from 2011, till after the general election of 2015, when His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr David Nweze Umahi emerged as governor and he appointed Mrs Jennifer Adibe Nwafor as SA to the governor. From that appointment, everything changed.

Okay from the 2017, the appointment changed to SA to the governor on Inter Party. From that period, that woman turned to another thing.

The office of IPAC Chairman that she was handling, she was the IPAC Chairman, she locked the office up since that time till even now, even as IPAC Chairman, we are not after government in power, we want our business independent.
The office of IPAC has been robbed. We know the number of chair, we have 75 plastic chairs, 4 office tables. When the time comes, she must account for those things.

Sir, are you saying that IPAC is currently threatened in Ebonyi?

Yes! the IPAC is currently threatened in Ebonyi and actually I know that the Executive Governor of Ebonyi may not be aware of that. And then what I’m trying to say is that after the administration of the Jennifer Adibe Nwafor as the IPAC Chairman, from there she was promoted to SA to the governor. Within that period, she never allowed the IPAC members to run their business the way the political business should have been.

That was why, even when we go to the governor house for Christmas visit, the governor opened up and told us that his SA will be the one that will be handling the affairs of IPAC. That she will be the one that will determine who becomes the IPAC Chairman and within that period, things turned sour.

The former IPAC Chairman, if you see him, infact he doesn’t get himself. So, that is why within this period, we run around, we insist, that we want the Council to be independent, so that we stand independent, we finance our affairs within us, we run our affairs within us.

Whatever things we get within us, we manage it within us, without anybody interference. Even the oppositions, who is supposed to support us, we don’t need them. We want to manage ourselves within ourselves. Then the government should be their own, then ourself, ourself. That is what we want now.

So, you don’t want any interference?

We don’t need anything interference. We want IPAC to be a neutral body. The only person, the only body that can interfer with IPAC is INEC. INEC, they are our brothers and sisters.

But what do you have to say concerning some of your members that are actually, like they are actually inter facing with the government and more like bringing in crisis that are not with, neither on you at this stand?

Okay the issue about that. Last week, I made a press release, you know one is that, IPAC is one umbrella that unit other political parties. And within that umbrella, you know, when you come to Nigeria now, we have 18 political parties existing, but here in Ebonyi, we are 17. Out of 17, I have 9 executive intact. So any other political party that decides to do his or her business in her own way, once the person don’t mention the name of IPAC, is non of my business, it’s non of our business, because IPAC is a body and being a body, Ebonyi State is a Chapter of IPAC. We have our national body. If anybody wants to think that he is not from IPAC Ebonyi, if you are not from IPAC body, you should come from national body, then if you are not from our national body, you should have your own different name. You cannot use the name of IPAC, that we are intact with the national body. I said I just came back recently from the national submit, organized by national IPAC. Then I don’t have any reason of interchanging, or changing words with anybody in the name of you are this, you are that. What we had been experiencing is, they are using the name of government to intimidate some of my members. Even I keep on telling the public, that I know that His Excellency may not be aware of all these things, but His Excellency should act speedily because all these things now, it has gotten out of hand. How can a legal, an opposition parties will be having their meeting, legal meeting, some nuisance will come and obstruct the meeting, it’s illegal.

Can you tell us one of the experiences, one that occurred recently?

Okay, within some weeks ago, we were at 22 Nsugbe Street, having our meeting as the IPAC executives. That meeting was organized after the exco meeting, that general meeting will be called. Even we invited one DSS officials in that meeting but the thing happens as if, as soon as the DSS personnel that I invited left the venue of that meeting, the next thing we saw was one Nweze Ernest, the vice chairman of APC Ebonyi South, came in with Ebubeagu boys, they were shooting guns as if we have war with Iraq and Iran. My members, all of them got frightened. Some ran into coma.

For instance now, Chief Mrs Juliet Nwinya was, infact she ran into coma. They were pouring water on her before she regained her strength. At the end of everything, after slapping me, they bundled me to Government House. Even as we were going, I noticed when one of the Ebubeagu boys asked him that they should take me to police station, he said no that they should take me inside Government House. And when you are doing such a business inside Government House, it is illegal. Any arrest that’s legal is at police station. Assuming they are acting on a legal act, what they should have done is to take me to police station, so that I will tell the whole world the business I’m doing, if whether my business I was doing is legit or not. So but, they refused to do that. So I was detained there from 2pm till 10-11 in the night.

We know that there’s office of SA on Inter Party who suppose to intervene in issue like stated, what the current relationship between the new IPAC leadership and the SA on Inter Party?

The SA on Inter Party and Labour Matters is the major problem in Ebonyi. From administration the IPAC went to court against local government election, because of that not only that , our matter is ongoing in federal high court. Then as soon as this woman concluded her tenure as IPAc chairman , she was made the SA to the governor on inter party and labour matters.

Within that period, she saw herself to be demigod to all of us who are his fellow Chairmen of political parties, not only playing that godly role,that any money meant for IPAC she must handle that money instead of the IPAC chairman.
Within that period, many people advised her but she refused to adhere to that instructions.

Sometimes she will use the name of IPAC she to collect money from party chairman, at the end she will not give the money to the political party that the money belongs to .

We took that as none of our business, within some time, we fixed our elections. The way the elections was fixed, the person that gets information from the national is only the state IPAC chairman one Hon. James Aliuna was the IPAC chairman then, he was the only person that was suppose to get information from the national concerning the IPAC elections, but he wasn’t giving information to the IPAC members.

He always return information to the SA, Jennifer. So on 24 December last year, he called us and told us that she called him and that the Council’s elections would hold at a certain time.

He said the deputy governor called him saying that the status quo remains , so , we said okay. But we should first of all wait for the IPAC chairman, because it wasn’t the business of His Excellency, so we where waiting for the Council’s chairman to invite us for a meeting within that period the guy never invited us.

Personally I called him on phone because some that joined IPAC were new members. So, I called him on phone asking that this one we haven’t heard from him, that I am interested for an election.

He said that I should have said it that day at SA’s office. He said there was nothing he could do that he is waiting for something to come out ,within that period he never called any meeting.

On that third of February, elections were fixed ,some of the political parties that felt that there were issues regarding the elections, gathered and wrote a petition against the elections.

We marched into INEC Secretariat and they said the petition would not stop them from conducting election, that they will conduct election. Which they did and the winner emerged.

Our petition was taken to Abuja and we got signal in April that the election was nullified. When the election was nullified , we were waiting for a signal for a new election, when the message of the new election was sent to us. They sent Ebubeagu boys against us and said we will not conduct elections.

They invited those guys at INEC office, the HOD of INEC was aware of that, the national decided to shift the election to 14th of September, which they also did the same thing. which prompted our appointment as the state can’t be vacuum to work in acting capacity.

However, to set the records straight, Ebonyi state chapter of Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, want to disassociate our selves with her as we can’t continue working with someone who cause problem in our Council and siphon our money.

Within this shortest time she has been telling people that there is no issue in IPAC, the person whom she has been parading as the state chairman if that person was the authentic chairman what stops the person from attending the national submit from NPSS meeting at Bacerlona hotel recently?.
What I am saying is that IPAC Ebonyi state disassociate themselves from SA to the governor, we don’t have any Representatives from the governor.

If actually ,the executive governor wants to deal directly with IPAC Ebonyi state, he should do directly with the IPAC chairman and I am the IPAC chairman , I am the legitimate IPAC chairman world wide as far as Ebonyi is concerned. I don’t want any IPAC member under my leadership to associate with SA on governor under my party ,she is not representing us.

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