What did he go to Imo State for? That was the convergence of queries among political actors across the country, shortly after the news of killing of the Madagali, Adamawa State-born former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak wafted into social media.
The confusion and controversy, which trailed the demise of the former politician, reminded of the political undertakings that defined his persona.
Of all those, his party function as chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Imo State Governorship Primary Committee, stood out, because it was in the same Imo State that his blood was shed.
The state Police Command, in a statement by Bala Elkana, disclosed that six gunmen killed the former presidential aide on his way to the Owerri Airport after leaving Protea Hotel, Owerri, where he had lodged.
Elkana, who is the Police Public Relations Officer, added that the fatal encounter took place around 7.20 am, explaining: “Armed bandits intercepted and attacked a Toyota Camry cab carrying Ahmed Gulak and two others, who were on their way to Sam Mbakwe Airport to catch a flight.
“Ahmed Gulak left his room at Protea Hotel without informing the Police nor sister agencies in view of the fragile security situation in the South East and Imo in particular.
“He left without any security escorts and while the cab driver took irregular route to the airport, six armed bandits who rode in a Toyota Sienna intercepted, identified and shot at Ahmed Gulak at around Umueze Obiangwu in Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area close to the Airport.”
Prior to his presumed assassination, Gulak was last seen on the radar of controversy during the disputed Imo State APC governorship primary in October 2018. Just like in the recent instance, the Adamawa-born politician had sneaked out of the hotel on the eve of the straw poll, leaving other members of his Imo Governorship Primary Election Committee in the dark.
Then spokesperson of the party, Jones Onwuasoanya, had alerted the public that the primary election committee’s chairman, Gulak, had after arriving the state very late on Monday, met with the then governor, Rochas Okorocha.
He added that on the following morning (Tuesday), he (Onwuasoanya) alongside the state chairman, Daniel Madueke Nwafor, went to the hotel, where Gulak was lodged, only to discover that he was not in his room, even as he disclosed that other members of the committee confirmed that they do not know his (Gulak’s) whereabouts.
“The chairman of the committee and his members were lodged at the Rockview Hotel, Owerri, the Imo state capital, on their arrival from Abuja, yesterday, while materials for the primary election were handed over to the commissioner of police for safe keeping.
“The direct governorship primary election, which was supposed to hold yesterday was shifted to today as a result of late arrival of materials and personnel for the conduct of the exercise. Party members are hereby informed that the primary election is yet to commence as a result of this.”
Gulak, was later to announce result of the primary declaring Senator Hope Uzodimma as the winner. Following up the controversy that his sudden disappearance and announcement of results in a Channels Television programme generated, Gulak disclosed that what he submitted to the APC National Working Committee (NWC) as a fall-out of his assignment in Imo state to supervise the party governorship primary election was a reflection of what actually happened.
“It is left for the NWC,” he added, “to do whatever they want with the results. I did not appoint myself. I was appointed by the NWC to supervise the governorship primary election in Imo and I conducted and collated the results.
“I did not go there with an agenda. My only agenda was for the party to be given back to the people by conducting a transparent and free primary. I refused to accept an agenda that was put to me. I will not be cajoled into doing what is not right. I have a name to protect.
“The results I submitted were not fake and cannot be fake. The announcement could not be announced in Owerri, because the governor was looking for me. The party did not toe the line of the governor or to satisfy his wishes. Some of my members disappeared and were taken to Government House. I did not want to say these things, but the time will come when the truth will be told. It is left for the party to do what they want with the results I submitted.”
Irked by the development, Okorocha called for Gulak’s arrest and prosecution over “the biggest electoral fraud of the century.”
According to Okorocha, “Giving men like him national assignment like the one he was sent to Imo State to do was just licensing him to blackmail the nation and put our democracy to ridicule. And there are certain lies or actions a man who had been the Political Adviser to a former President of the nation should have overgrown, no matter the temptation.
“The childish tale of his attempted kidnap was just an after-thought. He knew he didn’t act well his part and was only trying to see how he could come out from the tight corner he had boxed himself into.”
One month after the controversial primary, Alhaji Gulak disclosed that he was offered $2million to manipulate the primary in addition to a private jet flight to Imo State before the primary began.
“I refused the private jet and even the tempting offer made to me, very tempting, we are talking about two million dollars here, which I refused.
“Although, I tried to persuade them that I was going to do what is needful, free and fair primary. Every stakeholder must be involved.
“Immediately we landed at the airport, that was where the problem started. They wanted to kidnap every member and only God knows where they wanted to take us to, of which I refused,” he had declared.
Prior to his eventual defection to APC, Gulak was relieved of his appointment after running into trouble with Akwa Ibom State governor. He was accused of visiting Uyo, where he inaugurated a sectional and unknown support group in favour of then President Jonathan. But, the state leadership of PDP alleged that he visited the state without bothering to pay any courtesies to the leadership of the party, and indicted him of “playing an ignoble and contemptible role.”
However, he had after leaving Jonathan’s appointment contested unsuccessfully for the Adamawa State governorship ticket of the party.
Although his participation swelled speculations that the then President might have relieved him to ensure the PDP does not fall in Adamawa due to the defection of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, his loss proved there was neither such a discussion nor was he a heavyweight politician at home.
IT was Gulak that sparked the misunderstanding within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which led to the drafting in of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. The former presidential aide had challenged Prince Uche Secondus on the constitutional premise of his acting capacity, shortly after Dr. Adamu Mu’azu, was forced to resign as national chairman.
Gulak had threatened to drag PDP and Secondus to court for usurping the position allotted to Northeast geopolitical zone of the party. Following a successful court ruling that the PDP constitution does not envisage the position of an acting national chairman, some governors introduced Sheriff.
But, instead of staving off the crisis, Sheriff’s perceived ambition to hijack the party for a presidential deal during the 2019 general pushed the party into a protracted legal tussle.
While the disputation was on, Gulak moved over to APC and was absorbed without questions as to his past political activities.
Whether Gulak’s demise is in connection to the fallout of the Imo Governorship primary, or issues surrounding the security challenges in the state remains in the realms of conjecture.
But, one of those who was with him when the attack happened, who is said to hail from Bayelsa State and was part of the committee that was sent to handle the assignment, is in a good stead to state Gulak’s side of the story on his fatal second mission to Owerri.