Soludo’s dad kidnap, matters arising

The kidnap of 78-year-old father of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank and the Peoples Democratic Party candidate (PDP) Anambra state – an innocent old man that should be spending his last years in quietude – has been turned into political brick bating in Anambra State.

This atrocious crime that should ordinarily remain in the sphere of criminal act, investigation and punishment, has been turned into a political weapon, both on the part of the Soludo camp and his political enemies.

Some forces within PDP in the state is opposed to the candidature of the former CBN governor and thus to Soludo and his camp, the kidnap is the handiwork of Chris Uba and his goons to intimidate Soludo out of the race; while Chris Uba views the kidnap “as a blackmail, insisting that he could not be cowed by such blackmail”. He added that Soludo wishes to cast aspersions on his character, attract public sympathy and distract the public attention from the controversial manner by which he was imposed as the PDP candidate

On, Wednesday, 28 October, 2009, Nigerians woke up to the rude and abhorrent news that Pa Soludo has been kidnapped the previous night, thus introducing an alarming chapter in the unfolding saga of Anambra state PDP-induced tragedy.

The Nigeria Police Command introduced the political angle when without any investigation, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, announced to the world that the kidnap is politically-motivated just as Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philip Leha, accused a political godfather in the state, Chief Chris Uba, as the brain behind the kidnap.

Further stoking the political fire, The Soludo campaign organization released a premature political statement announcing that “from all indications, this kidnap is politically motivated as his son (Prof. Soludo) is the clear front-runner to win the next gubernatorial election in Anambra”.

Leo Chiegboka, the spokesman for the Soludo Campaign Organization said:

“We wish to urge Prof. Soludo’s supporters, all Anambra people and indeed Nigerians to remain calm. Prof. Soludo is in high spirits. According to him, “this one too shall pass away”. He considers this as one of the much travail that must come to pass on his road to rescue and salvage Anambra State from the cabal that insists on holding the state hostage. We believe that the cabal knows that with Soludo as Governor, it can no longer be business as usual, and that is why they are fighting desperately in an attempt to break his will. By the special grace of God, and the resolve of the people, they cannot succeed! Prof. Soludo has resolved to make security of lives and property in the state a major plank of his administration”.

This statement is very premature considering that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philemon Leha, observed that the family was yet to make a report to the police over 48 hours after the kidnap of Pa Simeon Soludo, retired staff of the Nigerian Cement Company, Nkalagu.

The Anambra Police Command actually pleaded with Soludo family to make a report saying; All we “wants is for him to make a formal report of the kidnap”.

“It is natural for him (Prof. Soludo) to come forward to make a statement. If his father was kidnapped, we expect him to tell us formally,” the commissioner said.

Obviously, the family places a higher premium on making political capital from the kidnap than getting the police to arrest the culprits.

Not stopping there, The Soludo Campaign Organisation then claimed Wednesday that a group which called itself “Omega 12”had contacted the organisation demanding N5 billion as ransom to “defray political expenses”.

With all suspicious eyes focused on Chris Uba, the chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party was invited for questioning by the state Police Command over the kidnap. Others invited for questioning were those who organised the Emmaus House rally in Awka, the state capital, against Soludo’s candidature on the same day Pa Soludo was kidnapped.

Some forces within PDP in the state opposed to the candidature of the former CBN governor had converged on Akwa on Tuesday to signify their rejection of Soludo as the party’s flag bearer.

Leha said the invitation arose from the fact that it was shortly after the rally, where scathing remarks were made against Soludo’s candidature, that his father was kidnapped.

Now a new twist has been added to the raging controversy over the kidnap of 78-year old Pa Simeon Nwankwo Soludo as men loyal to the self-acclaimed godfather of Anambra politics, Chief Chris Uba, have threatened to expel Soludo from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for alleged anti-party activities.

Briefing newsmen in Awka, the former Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Barrister Afam Ilouno, said by linking the party to the kidnap case,  Soludo had associated himself with the governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) that incidents of kidnapping in the state were politically motivated.
But the Soludo campaign organisation through its Director of Media and Publicity, Ngozi Agudosi, said that the threat was a mission impossible.
According to him, “The first time Soludo’s name was sent to the INEC, that was the day INEC wrote a letter that said there was no formal executive of the party in the state.

“Subsequently after that, the national working committee of the party officially dissolved the state executive where Afam Ilouno belongs.”

However, he debunked the insinuation that the campaign organisation was linking the kidnap of the 78-year old to any group, adding that it was the prerogative of the state police command to say the truth about the matter.

He said should the police arrest Uba and detain him over his alleged complicity on the kidnap saga, it is purely a police affair and not that of the party nor the organisation.

“Soludo’s campaign organisation has nothing to do with that because the police command is handling it and we believe in whatever their decision may be”, Agudosi said.

But Ilouno described the allegation linking Uba to the entire kidnap episode as false and unfounded.

“This is anti-party and the PDP in Anambra views this as a slap on the image of this great party and it is clear in the constitution,” Ilouno said.

The kidnap of the 78-year-old by gunmen has raised a lot of dust in Anambra State with some groups calling for the arrest and detention of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Chris Uba.

Another group in the South East known as the Nigeria Renewal Group (NRG) has equally accused the national leadership of the party of being behind the kidnap.

 But Uba in a statement denied ever being invited by the police but said he was ready to answer if he received the invitation.

The political godfather described the linking of their rally to the kidnap as blackmail, insisting that he could not be cowed by such blackmail.

He said: “I am the leader of the party in the state and I have been funding the party since 1999. Soludo is a visitor in the state, he is a visitor in the party, but when he came we started the primaries, and in the delegate election he got only five, and when he got this few votes, Soludo himself went and brought a court order and told me, Chief Chris Uba, that he brought that court order. Then he later came to my house to beg me for us to discuss, I told him to go first and vacate that court order, he told me the court order cannot be vacated.

 “He also told me that he has about three court orders in his pocket given by the same judge, Justice Nwankwo.
 “Then we went to Abuja to do the congress election, Soludo refused that delegates will not vote, after that NWC rose and said they were coming back, they went and slotted his name from behind. I will show you his number, he has been calling me, begging me to soft-pedal and I said I will not soft-pedal, that he must vacate because he came in through the backyard and he must leave through the backyard.

 “Soludo is not a member of our party. Soludo has not attended meeting anywhere and now after our rally yesterday, he went and planted, even went to the Commissioner of Police and told the CP that he should stop us from the rally, but police told us to change the rally to stakeholders meeting. I spoke to the Commissioner myself and police were at that rally and I went to the rally and came back, the next news he said they kidnapped his father.

 “Soludo is a blackmailer and he cannot blackmail me to stop. I will continue to fight the cause I believe in. I’m in court with him, tomorrow in Federal High Court, Abuja, I will continue to fight his candidature till I get him out of office.  He can’t try this in this party, he has spoilt all the banks in Nigeria and he wants to come and spoil the party, it can’t happen.

 “So he knows the location of his father, let him go and bring back his father. You know Soludo is not at peace with his people. He is fighting with his people, he created an autonomous community.
 “My own is the party, I am the leader of the party, I am a BOT member in this party. I am fighting illegality because our president believes in rule of law and we must follow due process.

 “Police Commissioner never invited me for one day and it is unfair for him to say so. But tell him I am in my house in Abuja, if he wants to see me, if he invites me I will answer. No blackmail can stop me, I must fight on.
“I am consulting with all my lawyers for a legal action against Soludo and his cronies. However, Police in
Nigeria know where to see me, if they want me I am available at anytime to answer them,” He concluded.

The kidnap of Pa Soludo is as wicked and irresponsible as any could be. The kidnap is the handiwork of the evil forces that holds the state hostage. The abductors stood to gain nothing from their actions apart from throwing Anambra State into crisis. We pray that the kidnappers would see reason and release the old man unharmed to the embrace of his family.

According to the Anambra Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philemon Leha, the most dangerous kind of insecurity in Anambra state is “insecurity sponsored by politicians.” He added that “based on intelligence reports, crime statistics and survey carried out by the state Police Command that they are primarily two kinds of insecurity problems in the state. Insecurity caused by criminals who deliberately target well-meaning individuals in the society, which could be anyone as long as they think he is wealthy enough to part with some hefty sum”.

But he said; “The second and the most dangerous phase is insecurity sponsored by politicians”.

We join the Police Command to remind the politicians that the only road to Government House is through the ballot box and not by kidnapping people.  “Their popularity and acceptance can only be got by propagating and articulating ideas and selling same to the electorate with a view to winning their votes and not by buying the votes”. 

Evidently, Soludo’s emergence as the candidate of the PDP for the February 6, 2010 gubernatorial election in the state has thrown the party into confusion and unleashed some demonic forces on the state. Its hapless citizens could only stare in amazement as the drama unfolds.