Former national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the party’s candidate in the rescheduled Anambra Central senatorial election, Chief Victor Umeh, returned from Abuja yesterday after spending 24 hours in the custody of the Department of State Security Service (DSS) saying the DSS accused him of insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.
Umeh, who was arrested and taken to Abuja on Thursday, returned to Awka yesterday into the waiting hands of thousands of party supporters. He however denied the charges.
Umeh narrated how on Wednesday, he got a text message from the State Director of State Security Service (SSS), Anambra State, inviting him for a meeting, unknown to him, they were laying ambush for him.
Umeh scheduled the meeting for Thursday after a trip to Enugu to witness the judgment in the case brought by his former opponent in the senatorial election, Chief Mrs Uche Ekwunife in which she sought to get the Court of Appeal reverse itself in the voiding of her election and disqualification from re-contesting.
However, according to Umeh, as early as 7am on Thursday, he got a follow-up invitation from the same director of SSS, Anambra State command, informing him that the meeting was urgent.
When he got to the state security office, and after being seated for a while, a man walked in and the director pointed at Umeh saying “that is him”.
Immediately, the director’s guest informed Umeh that he would be taken to Abuja to answer to some charges.
Umeh, however, said when he requested that his driver get home and bring his medications, they obliged.
But as soon as his medications were brought in, he was whisked away. He got signs that their mission was serious when he came out to board his vehicle only to see fierce-looking security men all wielding automatic rifles. He was then sandwiched in between two operatives at the back seat of a white pick-up van and they drove to Abuja.
Umeh, nevertheless, said the operatives were friendly with him obliging him a bottle of water when he requested for one and some sweets which they bought for him on request.
They got to Abuja at about 7:15 pm and he was interrogated at about 10pm.
Umeh said he was startled that all the allegations leveled against him border on treason.
Umeh’s words: “When the head of interrogation took me to the office, he brought a red file and said that while on my campaign, they had reports that I insulted the President and incited the youths. They said they got report that if I get to the Senate, I will unite the youths of Southeast and Niger Delta and wage war against the country. That there was an issue concerning Fulani cattle herdsmen”.
Umeh said he denied all the allegations informing them that he campaigned in the open; that he never disparaged Mr President, because he was not running for the Presidency.
“But I told them that I opposed the use of arms to quell protests and fight Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB),” he said.
After the interrogation, according to him, when he was taken to the Director General, he told him that they invited him because they hold him in high esteem and that if the allegations against him were true, then there will be trouble.
Umeh said after the interrogation, they had a useful chat on the need to ensure peace in the country.
Umeh said he was happy and “thanked God that the plans of the desperadoes did not materialize”.
According to him, as early as 10am on Thursday, the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu had dismissed Ekwunife’s suit and if the rerun had been held today, March 5, he would have had a smooth sail, though that has been put off to another day.
He also thanked Governor Willie Obiano who had within the time he was at the state headquarters, telephoned the Director-General to vouch for his integrity.
What is more, he arrived at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu to meet a sea of APGA supporters led by the state chairman, Sir Norbert Obi.
On a lighter note, Umeh said he was somehow happy to be at the SSS office “because every time I passed on my way to Asokoro, I used to see the imposing headquarters of the SSS and I wondered how the inside would be. This is my first time of getting into that building.”
Meanwhile, former Anambra State governor, Mr Peter Obi has distanced himself from the travails of the APGA candidate saying that he does not have a hand in Umeh’s arrest. Obi was reacting to allegations that he wrote a petition against Umeh.
Obi, who spoke through his media aide, Mr Valentine Obienyem, a lawyer, pleaded with Chief Umeh to leave his boss alone. “I read the news credited to Mr Stan Okeke that Mr Peter Obi was behind the arrest of Chief Victor Umeh. Let me state for the avoidance of doubt that Mr Peter Obi has not, and is not contemplating writing any petition against anybody. He did not do so as a governor, and could not have started doing so now,” he said.