From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri

The Igbo Peoples Alliance for Development (IPAD) has described as fake news reports of the alleged collapse and hospitalisation of Prof George Obiozor last Sunday, during the Ime-Obi meeting of Ohanaeze in Enugu.

The Igbo group said that the news was the handiwork of ‘fifth columnists’ targeting the reputation of Prof Obiozor ahead of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership election.

Obiozor, a leading candidate for the presidency of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, was reported to have been ‘carried out unconscious’ after he had allegedly fallen during a meeting of the Ime-Obi of the Ohanaeze held at Enugu.

IPAD, however, issued a terse statement on Wednesday by Ambrose Obioha, its National President, dismissing the reports.

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The statement reads:

‘Ordinarily, we would not have responded to these items of fake news and deliberate disinformation, given the fact we understand the circumstances and likely root of its propagation, but for the purposes of clarity, especially as affects those Nigerians who were far from the scene of the purported incident we wish to state that our group, the Igbo peoples Alliance for Development, was on ground at the said Ime-Obi venue at Enugu where the purported incident took place and we were shocked at the mendacious report in circulation.’

Obioha further stated that the ‘ill-intension of those spreading the fake news of the purported hospitalisation of Prof Obiozor was made rather too obvious by the fact that while Prof Obiozor was still at the venue of the Ime-Obi, he was inundated with calls from people who were far from the venue but had also heard the fake news suggesting he suddenly took ill and had to be hospitalised.’

Continuing, Obioha said of Prof Obiozor that ‘he is the front runner in this race, with the blessings of Igbo people across the board. As such, he can neither be intimidated nor cowed by the actions of fifth columnists. He is in the race to salvage Igbo land and there is no going back.

‘We don’t need rabble-rousers and cantankerous fellows who will earn us more enemies instead of winning more friends and partners for us. We need a man who is grounded in the art of diplomacy,’ he stated.