How Chris Ubah Abducted Me In 2003- Chris Ngige

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By: Chris Ngige
I have the unenviable record of being the first civilian governor to have survived what is best described as a “civilian coup” in Nigeria’s political history, masterminded by a clique of high-handed godfathers.

The first thing that comes to mind each time I flash back to the nearly 12-hour siege in Awka, Anambra State capital on July 10, 2003 is the maxim that everything that happens to a man is for a purpose is very correct.

If you are a believer in God, you will know that even if suffering is inflicted on you, it may turn out for your own good. So, when July 10 came, I wasn’t expecting it. I did not have any premonition. Even though I picked some intelligence reports but it wasn’t clear.

Yes, I saw the body language of my supposed political friends, including my deputy governor but was unable to decode what it is properly. The nearest to decoding any was that I had what you can call a trail; that from the time I was nominated, to the main election, through the campaigns, I could figure discomfort and unhappiness on the part of some of my close allies, as if to say, oh, we made a mistake anointing this man. I could see but I couldn’t decode why.

Why did I not decode it? Because I didn’t want to be governor in the first instance! I have always wished to be a senator, the nomination of which I told you I lost in 1999. So, I was all along working towards being a senator. Even among party officers, I would tell fellow members of the executive committee that the only thing they would do for me was to assist my nomination for the senate and everybody was like you have worked very hard for the party.

I worked hard for the South East. I would go to peace mission to the North East; I would go to Southwest and South-south – all volunteer work. I wasn’t going for pecuniary interest like some of us. I would go, write report. I was one of the few secretaries that usually put up a report each time. So, Senate was always on my mind.

So, I couldn’t decode but noticed that even up to the inauguration day, there was discomfort among my political associates, the inner group. It was until the night before the abduction so to say that I started getting phone calls from people, speaking to me in parables. One person called me and said, Your Excellency, I am calling you to know whether you know where your House of Assembly members are. And I said how could I know? They are in their houses and I am in my own home and he said hmmm and dropped his phone.

Then I got another phone call from my friend, Hon. Chudi Offodile. He asked how I am and said I am okay. I am in Awka. And he said he was just calling to find out how I am and that I should watch my House of Assembly members. But I said to myself if it is House of Assembly members, if they want to impeach me, they would serve me notice of impeachment. When they serve me notice, it will give me time to re-group.

The last call was from my friend, Chris Uba and that was early in the morning of July 10 and said he was going to Lagos to do one or two things and I wished him safe journey. But around 9am – 8:30 am, the state chairman of the party, Barr. Ifeatu Obi-Okoye came to see me in my hotel, Choice Hotel, because the governor’s lodge was being renovated; it wasn’t in a good condition. I was told the state chairman was looking for me and when he came, two things happened.

Maybe for me not to suspect anything, he said he wanted to talk to me; that he is interested in becoming a commissioner. And I asked him what portfolio he was interested in, that having worked with me to become governor, any portfolio he was interested in, is deserving except, Attorney General, because he is a lawyer.

I told him except Attorney General because he wasn’t a senior advocate and I told him plainly that I needed a senior advocate; that I needed to change the standard of things in Anambra State. I want to enthrone excellence; that I wanted my attorney general to be a senior advocate and my commissioner for finance, a chartered accountant. So, he thanked me very profusely and it was in the course of thanking me that he told me that he had just left our common friend and political leader in our caucus.

I was leader with Chris Uba, because they made us co-chairman of the caucus but I deferred to him, because even though the structure we had then was built around both of us, he was the one closer to the Presidency than myself. I was the party man in the party structure, having been a national officer. So, he said he had just left him and I said in Enugu? He said No, in his Guest House in Awka and I said, is he in Awka? He said yes, so my antenna went up. Something is wrong. Somebody who told me he was going to Lagos and is here in Awka. But I have my own way of doing things. At times, I leave problems to solve themselves.

So, I went to the office at 10. I usually get to the office 9:30 but that day maybe because of those visitors, I got there 10. By 11, the whole drama started. I saw my ADC pushed out, something like ruffling and scuffling at the ante room, in front of my office by the late AIG Ralph Ige and the man who came with him – a three star, DSP, fully armed. Ige was in mufti. But I had seen him two days earlier in Enugu at Chris Uba’s house on my way from Abuja.

I saw Ige there and we exchanged pleasantries. He was drinking palm wine. I took just a sip, not being a big drinker. So, when I saw him, I didn’t understand the push at the door. He came in, sat down but usually when police officers see us, even the CP anywhere, they salute you because you embody sovereign. They are not saluting you because you are Mr. A or B, they are saluting the office, but Ige didn’t salute me and was also not in uniform.

He didn’t also chest out too, so that was the first sign. He sat down on the sofa. I was writing something on my table and I said welcome, went to sit on the single-seater near him. I then said this one you are dressed in mufti is it well, have you started your retirement leave? I knew he would retire in matter of months. And he said no, o, he was on duty here. I said ok, do I offer you anything, he said no. Of course, he was smelling alcohol that early morning. I said to myself that something was obviously wrong.

So, I went back to my table. Then he told me, oga, you have to come down from that table. I said why. He said I have instruction you should discontinue work. And I said from whom. He said from high up. And I said which one is high up. You mean high up or high down. He said I don’t know, I should stop querying him. Bloody police officer telling me I should stop querying him. I said there is a lot on. So, when I picked my phone, he said no, no, no, I should drop the phone; that you are not to answer any call.

And it was an outside call. So, when another call came on my intercom, he said I should drop it and I said no, this is intercom; is my secretary calling me. So, when I picked the intercom, my secretary said the state Director of SSS wanted to speak to me. The Director of SSS, Okogie told me he heard some people are my office. One of my chief details must have told him. I had two chief details, one posted by Okogie and the other posted from Enugu command by Chris Uba.

So there was a tussle as to who is my chief detail. Of course, having discussed with Okogie, he said he cannot take a chief detail from another person; that it was his job to give me a chief detail, unless I have any other person in his command to choose, otherwise the boy he posted, Tony would be my chief detail. So, both of them were there.

I accepted the two aides because the one from Chris Uba refused to go. And I mentioned it to Chris Uba who brought him and he said it is Abuja that posted that one. So, the only option I had was to sort it out with the DG in Abuja, because Okogie was hell bent it was Abuja that asked him to send somebody to me and that he had carried out the directive. Okogie was the state director and I didn’t want any squabble with him or Chris Uba.

I decided that when next I visit Abuja, I would go see the DG of SSS. So, it was Tony, the one given to me by Okogie that called to inform him that AIG badged into my office, pushed them aside and disarmed my ADC. So, the man said ok, is he a real AIG. I said yes. He’s even the one I knew. He said is it Ige? I said yes. He said he would contact his office. As we were there, the clerk of the Anambra State House of Assembly Mr. Alloysius Ikwuka came in. He was my secondary school Latin teacher, who we used to call Gozoga, when we were in school.

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