By Chidi Nkwopara, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Chinonso Alozie
ABUJA—COMMUNITY leaders from the three senatorial districts of Imo State, yesterday, told the state House of Assembly to, without delay, commence the impeachment process of Governor Rochas Okorocha who they accused of turning himself into a tyrant in the way he was managing the affairs of the state.
The Imo leaders’ anger was as a result of the demolition of the ancestral Ekeukwu market initially known as Ogwumabiri market and the killing of a 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu, from Anambra State during the protest against the demolition.
In a related development, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, also called for the resignation or impeachment of Okorocha for his alleged “flagrant disobedience of subsisting court orders.”
This is even as the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, has decried the shedding of blood in Owerri.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, the leaders from Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu senatorial districts under the umbrella of Concerned Imo Leaders who wore black attires, signifying mourning, claimed that the state had been sliding and that the event of last week’s demolition of the Ekeukwu market and the alleged murder of four persons were the climax of its sliding.
Spokesperson of the group, Chief Sam Obaji, flanked by the immediate past chairman of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi; the leader of Owerri socio-cultural organisation, Dozie Owerri, Chief Tony Anyadike, and Okey Ikpe said Governor Okorocha had turned himself into an emperor and was heating up the polity in the state.
They said: “As political, social and cultural leaders from across Imo State, we address you today with sorrowful hearts at the happenings in our beloved Imo State, especially the destruction of lives and property in Owerri during last Saturday’s unlawful, reckless and unprofitable demolition of the ancient and iconic Eke-ukwu Owerri Main Market.
“At the wake of that demolition, four persons were killed, many more wounded and property worth billions of naira destroyed by armed military personnel on the instruction of the state government.
Killing of Somtochukwu
“Most heartrending is the killing of 10-year-old Somtochukwu Igboanusi of 9, Oguamalam Street who hailed from Anambra State. That child was gunned down as he tried to clear wares from his father’s shop.
“Since Governor Okorocha assumed power in Imo State, he has managed affairs of the state in a manner that suggests he has a hidden agenda against the Owerri Senatorial Zone and the entire people of Imo State.
“His unplanned urban development project has resulted in the complete dilapidation of roads in the state capital, the flooding of major streets in Owerri whenever there is slight rainfall and the complete deterioration of physical and social infrastructure in the entire state.”
The group that chronicled the alleged atrocities of the governor since he assumed office, including deceit, demanded “that in view of Governor Rocha’s clearly established leadership incompetence and serial blunders on the most elemental duties of governance, he should honourably resign as governor of Imo State.
“That if Governor Okorocha refuses to resign, members of the Imo State House of Assembly should immediately proceed to impeach him from office as governor of Imo State.
“That the government of Imo State should refrain from further violation of the court orders in respect of these demolitions. That the President should institute a judicial commission of inquiry into the circumstances of the use of armed forces personnel in this unlawful operation and ensure anyone who played a role in this unlawful deployment of the military should be prosecuted according to the law.”
Protesters not Owerri indigenes —Okorocha
But reacting to the development, Governor Okorocha in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said the protesters are not Owerri indigenes.
The statement issued yesterday read: “The fact is that those behind the press conference in Abuja today (yesterday) or involved in protest over the relocation of Ekeukwu Market are not Owerri indigenes but few politicians from the state mostly of the PDP extraction who are only keen in coming back to power in the state in 2019 after Imo people had voted them out in 2011 and also voted against them in 2015.
“The Owerri indigenes are here in the state and are happy with the level of development in Owerri courtesy of Governor Rochas Okorocha.
“Afterall, the PDP governments in the state for 12 years had tried to relocate Ekeukwu Market but could not do so because they lacked the political will and they were not keen in developing the state.”
…NBA kicks, as Obinna decries blood shedding
Also yesterday, the NBA chairman in the state, Mr. Lawrence Nwaketi and Archbishop Obinna made their views known, while addressing the press at different fora in Owerri.
Nwaketi fumed that “the governor has glaringly abused some provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, which he swore to protect.”
Making particular reference to the invasion and destruction of Ekeukwu Owerri Market, Nwaketi recalled that there is a subsisting High Court order, restraining the state government, its servants and agents, from tampering with or relocating the market, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Nwaketi, however, called on Imo people to begin the process of recalling their lawmakers “if they fail to remove the governor”.
In the Archbishop’s word: “Government should ask itself if the relocation of Ekeukwu Owerri market is worth the drop of any person’s blood. The sad death of the 10-year old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, portrays government in very bad light.”
On the alleged movement of Ekeukwu Owerri to Egbeada, Archbishop Obinna sought to know if the Governor was bent on totally obliterating the name of the ancestral market.
“I have it on record that the issue of Ekeukwu Owerri is in court, but I really can’t say why Imo State Government did not respect the High Court order”, Obinna said.
Answering a question, the Archbishop said that “a patriotic Catholic, who does not want his name mentioned, has announced a donation of N1 million to the bereaved family”.