The candidate of the Labour Party in the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election, Obiora Agbasimalo, is still in captivity five weeks after his abduction.
The politician was kidnapped on Saturday, September 18, while leaving a campaign ground at Ezinifitte Nnewi South Local Government Area to Azhia in Ihiala Local Government Area of the state.
The event came a week after the former banker flagged off his governorship campaign in Onitsha with a huge attendance.
Meanwhile, the emergence of Agbasimelo as the governorship candidate for the party in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra was greeted with a crisis.
The crisis threw up a faction in the party while one of the leading aspirants at the beginning of the governorship race, Nnamdi Nnoruka, was allegedly kidnapped by unknown persons and forced to withdraw from the contest.
Party officials, Clement Ojukwu, National organizing secretary; and a member of the Labour Party campaign council, Stanley Okoli who briefed journalists on Tuesday in Awka, said the abduction of their candidate had a political undertone and is not unconnected to his popularity and chances in the forthcoming election.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Ojukwu said, “Our candidate has not appeared since he was abducted on 18th September 2021. He was abducted alongside his security on his way from Ezinifitte to Azhia in Ihiala where he was going for a campaign. He was also kidnapped alongside his security aide.
“Since after his abduction, he has not appeared anywhere and his abductors have always spoken to us to assure us that he is alive and we believe he will be out soon.”
On the demands of the kidnappers, Ojukwu said, “What we discuss with them and what they tell us is like what a man and a woman discuss in the bedroom because it is secret. We always discuss with them to ensure our candidate is alive, and they let us speak with him.
“His abduction is political. He was in the banking sector and no one has ever thought of abducting him, but since he started vying for the governorship seat of Anambra, they now targeted and abducted him. He is very popular and his chances are very clear, so his opponents are not happy.”
On whether he can win the election even in captivity, he said: “This is not the first time this is happening. People have been in prison and won elections. You remember Omisore, you remember T.A Orji? We believe that he will win the election.
“We do not need sympathy vote to be able to win the election, he is popular and deserves to win. Besides, he is not the only one abducted, his security too, and the police force headquarters and the DSS are on it, and we believe he will be out soon.”
The party officials further denied media reports that the party had concluded arrangements to collapse its structure into that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to adopt Valentine Ozigbo as its candidate for the election.
They insisted that their candidate’s popularity was making opposition very jittery because of the massive following he had garnered, hence the rumours.
They said, “The name of Labour Party candidate is with INEC and you may wish to visit their portal to check that. Agabasimalo and Ozigbo are vying for the same seat and never met one on one or brokered an agreement for one to step down for the other. They are all rumours targeted at reducing our candidate’s popularity.”