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Anambra Poll: Group Uncovers Plot to Smear Obiano

By Okike Ozoemena

The Executive Director of Media Ethics and Rights Initiative, an Onitsha based responsible journalism advocacy group, Prince Ezekiel Amanambu, has alerted the Nigerian public of an unfolding plot to smear the image of Chief Willie Obiano, APGA's gubernatorial candidate in the coming governorship election in Anambra State in the media.

Speaking at a function in Onitsha at the weekend, the responsible journalism advocate said his group had uncovered a well-funded smear campaign by one of the political parties with deep roots in the South West to halt the gubernatorial aspirations of Chief Obiano in mid-stream.

According to him, since the APGA candidate joined the race, the opposition had been hard-pressed to find a chink in his amour, prompting them to fish for something to pin on him to no avail. “Obiano is about the only candidate among the big three who does not have any social or political baggage. They are looking for something to incriminate him with and make him look dirty in the sight of Anambrarians before the election,” Amanambu explained.

Said he: “The Media Ethics and Rights Initiative has discovered a thick plot to discredit Chief Obiano in the media. First, they started with the story of a forged agreement claiming that he had purportedly signed away the entire treasury of Anambra State to APGA Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh. When that failed, they came up with the charge of double registration. Even when the court quashed that charge, they persisted with a stronger rumour about it in the hope of misleading INEC and other regulatory authorities. The recent Adoration Tragedy was also part of their plot but God thwarted it before they could fully capitalize on it,” explained Prince Amanambu who is also a practicing lawyer.

The responsible journalism advocate further revealed that Obiano's traducers had hatched a bigger plot which they would try to pin on him before the Election Day. “We are aware of all their moves. We are monitoring them. We shall tell Nigerians about the true nature of their next plot before they have any chance to pull this final attempt off. What I can say for now is that their next campaign might involve the use of doctored video clips, photo-shopped images and forged signatures on crooked documents. But the picture is not very clear yet, ” Prince Amanambu explained.

Throwing more light on the smear campaigners, the journalism advocate revealed that the group controls enormous financial resources which it deploys to exert a corrosive influence on the media, lubricating the publication of its poorly hatched lies by some highly respected media organizations.

“Regrettably, Sahara Reporters has recently fallen prey to the influence of this corrosive group. We saw that in their recent publication of some forged voters cards which they claimed belonged to Chief Obiano. The two cards were purportedly obtained one month apart from the same center. How plausible is that? Again, this is contrary to their earlier claim that Obiano had registered first in Lagos and then Aguleri. Now, they are even claiming that there is a third voter's card somewhere. That's laughable! Are they trying to say that the man has nothing more to do except loaf around picking up voter's cards?” he asked.

Prince Amanambu further revealed that apart from Sahara Reporters, the Smear Campaigners have also bought large spaces in some of Nigeria's leading newspapers to run serialized stories that are intended to discredit the achievements of Governor Peter Obi and make it difficult for Obiano to preach his gospel of continuity.

“Their thinking is that if they discredit Obi's achievements, Obiano would have nothing to sell. How can you talk about continuity if the people have been made to disregard the very heritage you want to continue?” he reasoned.

According to him, his Group is also monitoring activities in Obiano's camp to see if it is going to change its own script and hatch a retaliatory plot against its opponents. “We are monitoring Obiano, Ifeanyi Ubah and Ngige's camps to see what dark plots they are hatching. We shall tell Nigerians whatever we detect at the right time,” he maintained, calling on the Nigerian Press Council, Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigerian Union of Journalists to advise their members on the corrosive influence of the Smear Campaigners.