Umeh freed by DSS, relives 15-hour interrogation

Chief Victor Umeh
Chief Victor Umeh

Immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the party’s senatorial candidate for Anambra Central senatorial rerun election, Chief Victor Umeh, yesterday, narrated his 15-hour experience in the hands of the Department of State Services, DSS, operatives, who interrogated him in Abuja over allegations of supporting Biafra agitators and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari during his campaigns.

Umeh was picked up in Awka on Thursday and taken to Abuja by road where he was drilled on various issues bordering on treasonable felony. After the interrogation, Umeh flew into Enugu, yesterday, where thousands of APGA supporters received and accompanied him to Awka where they held a reception for him at the party’s state headquarters.

Addressing reporters in Awka, Umeh denied being handcuffed during the journey to Abuja, adding however that anybody who saw what happened would think that the men of DSS had caught a coup plotter or a notorious criminal, as he was sandwiched by DSS operators throughout the trip to Abuja.

Why they arrested me

Narrating his experience Umeh said: “At about 2pm on Wednesday, I saw a text message from the Director of DSS in Anambra on my phone saying that he would like to have a chat with me. I have never been in a very close relationship with him and so I called him to find out if all was well.

“I told him I was to attend the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu involving me and he suggested that it was better I sent my lawyers to represent me. When I went, he welcomed me and a man came into the office and said they were taking me to Abuja as directed by the national headquarters of DSS.

“We arrived Abuja by 7.15pm and they kept me until 11 pm when the head of interrogation came in and started asking me about my campaigns. I gave him details of my campaign itinerary and he said they have a report of all I said during the rallies.

“He brought out a file and reeled out allegations against me which he said were treasonable. Among the allegations were that I was insulting Mr. President and that I was mobilizing the youths and promoting Biafra agitation. They also said that I was talking about Fulani herdsmen and condemning their activities in my area.

“At a stage, he asked if there was another Victor Umeh and I said I was the only one contesting the senatorial election in the zone.

“I told them that these allegations were made by my opponents who felt the only way they could stop me was to fabricate such lies against me. I also told them that I couldn’t have been talking about herdsmen because there are no grazing areas in my senatorial zone as all the places were already built up.

“I also told them that the Republic of Biafra is defunct and there was no way I could be agitating for it or making it a campaign issue, reminding him that I hold the national honour of OFR which I am ready to defend anywhere.

‘After the interrogation, he took me to the Director General who read out the same allegations. At the end, we had a very fruitful chat anchoring on the need to maintain peace.

“The DG said they invited me because if those things credited to me were true, there could be a major problem in the country. In my presence, he called Governor Willie Obiano, who assured him that I would never have said all those things and urged them to release me as he could vouch for my integrity. At the end of the exercise, he told me it was over and it was the head of interrogation that even drove me to the hotel where I stayed.”

Umeh commended the people of Anambra State who trooped to the Enugu Airport to welcome him, assuring that he would never do anything that could tarnish the image of Igbo nation in Nigeria.

How Umeh’s arrest was plotted

A DSS source confirmed Umeh’s comments and disclosed how the politician’s arrest was plotted. According to the source, on Wednesday, Umeh addressed a rally where he accused President Buhari of shielding Boko Haram fighters in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps, that Umeh further accused Buhari of being responsible for the free fall of the naira against the US dollar due to the president’s alleged cluelessness.

“Operatives that attended the rally came back from their beat and incidented their report upon which further entries and clarifications, including follow up interviews with the operatives were undertaken. After processing the intelligence, the department decided to invite Umeh to explain his claims,” the source stated. He added that the DSS believed that Umeh went too far in his search for votes by telling the people that Fulani people were “destroying our farms with their cattle and Buhari did nothing.” With report, he said the DSS had no option than to invite Umeh for questioning because the law does not allow incitement or threat to national security or sovereignty.

Criticisms trail Umeh’s arrest

Meanwhile, strident criticisms and angry reactions, yesterday, trailed the development. Wondering who was afraid of Victor Umeh, public affairs commentator, Mr. Obiora Aghadinuno, said the development may have implications for the April 2 Anambra Central rerun.

‘’Umeh’s recent run-in with the agents of the state has once again directed our gaze at the usual suspects… No matter who is behind Umeh’s ordeal or what the motives are; it is clear as crystal that any attempt on Umeh’s life or freedom of movement at this moment in time is a wrong move. It is a wonder how this obvious fact could have eluded Umeh’s enemies. By instigating his arrest, they have masterfully made him a hero and validated his candidacy. And if it is true that the charge levelled against Umeh is that he is a supporter of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), then, they have sealed his victory. While it is a blatant lie to accuse Umeh of supporting IPOB, it is an incontrovertible fact however that most of the electorate who will decide the winner in the coming poll are sympathizers of the IPOB. Consequently, to persecute Umeh over the spurious charge of supporting IPOB is to wilfully hand him victory on a platter of gold,’’ he said

IPOB, Ex-OMATA boss, others berate FG

Condemning the development, IPOB, yesterday, denied ever being supported or sponsored by Umeh. In a statement issued in Nnewi, by IPOB Media and Publicity Officer, Mr Emma Powerful, the group also denied ever having support, sponsorship anywhere in the world or from any politician or business man, saying that IPOB is a big organization pursuing the actualization of Biafra and one man or few people cannot sponsor it.

Also former President General of Onitsha Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, Chief Pius Ozoh Anaekwe, berated the All Progressives Congress, APC, government of President Muhammadu Buhari for its alleged dictatorial tendencies, saying with DSS arrest of Umeh, Nigeria is reverting to dictatorial administration of past military governments. “APC government is not comfortable with Umeh’s outspokenness and the only way to stop him is by arresting and intimidating him with DSS, not knowing that he is not a man that can be intimidated, they are afraid that his presence in the Senate will change things for good for the long marginalized Igbo people,’’ he said. (Vanguard)

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