January 7, 2020

Angry reactions trail planned takeover of Imo LGAs

Oguta, Ihedioha, Okorocha, Imo, women

Ihedioha and Okorocha

Ihedioha and Okorocha

By Chidi Nkwopara

Angry reactions have started trailing the botched forceful takeover last Monday, of the 27 local government councils in Imo State, by suspended chairmen and councillors believed to be loyalists of Chief Rochas Okorocha.

Some respondents, including an Owerri based legal practitioner, Mr. Alex Williams, described the act as “a treasonable felony”.

According to Williams, “what happened last Monday across the state, was a carefully planned coup d’etat and we expect the State Police Command to immediately round up the masterminds of the act and arraign them in court.”

The lawyer further reasoned that except the law enforcement agencies do the needful now, other groups may be forced to take the law in their hands.

READ ALSO: Ihedioha vs suspended chairmen: one shot dead

Imo PPRO reacts

In his own reaction, the Imo State Police Commands Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Orlando Ikeokwu, said the police were on ground to avert an impending breach of peace in the state.

Ikeokwu said that the All Progressives Congress, APC, chairmen and councillors, who were coming for reinstatement could not produce a valid Supreme Court judgement they claimed vested on them the authority to occupy their former positions.

The Imo police spokesman noted that the suspended council operators were relying on Ekiti State judgement, which may be similar but should never have been used as yardstick for the action in Imo State.

“We were there to ensure security of lives and properties. The ousted council chairmen and councillors said they have the Supreme Court judgment, but to the best of the knowledge of the Command, there is no Supreme Court judgement as such. Again, if there was a valid Supreme Court judgment, it is not in the hands of the supposedly aggrieved persons to enforce the judgment”, the PPRO said.

Continuing, Ikeokwu said: “The norm or the ethics is that the bailiff would have to serve you with a court order and they don’t have it. However, the judgement that they are referring to is that of Ekiti State. There is no way you can import another judgement from another state, even though they are similar. So there is no order directing them to take over.”

Another Owerri based lawyer, Dr. Kelechi Okpaleke, described the act as “the illegality of self help and the consequences are very obvious”.

While tracing the genesis of the act to the social media, Okpaleke reasoned that every great tool invented can easily be misused.

“The invention of the internet and social media have both made live much more convenient in terms of both private communications and mass communication. The death of the young man in Isu local council area, can easily be blamed on the misuse of the social media device”, Okpaleke said.

He insisted that the purveyors of fake news in Imo State, through social media, have succeeded in stoking the system to the death of a young man.

Dr. Okpaleke said he anticipated that something bad would happened last Monday, prompting his earlier post, advising the rightful way to go about it. “But no one listened. I then spoke to my people in Onuimo local government area, to ensure that my younger brothers understood that if such order was true, it will be administratively implemented. Onuimo only had peaceful demonstration in front of the LGA headquarters by the suspended Okorocha councillors”, Okpaleke said.

He expressed regret that all the people egging these youngmen on, to go ahead and storm the headquarters of the LGAs remained on facebook and did not go to the war fronts.

His words: “They were the first to announce the death of the young man from Isu LGA. They have started blaming the Governor when the blood of this young man is in their hands. Even the lawyers amongst them, who should know better, were busy stoking the ambers. Who is the lawyer amongst them that do not know that self-help is not a lawfully manner in the enforcement of a court order?

READ ALSO: Imo boils as Ihedioha, suspended LG chairmen struggle over office

“Where is this court order that led to the frenzy on Imo social media. It was all fake news propelled by out of court statements by the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, I learnt. The current CJN will still cause more problems to the peace of the Nigerian society. A judge should only be heard on issues of governance through his in court written opinion and not from out of court statements.

“The purveyors of this fake news keep citing December 11, 2019, ruling but there is no such December 11, 2019, ruling or at least we have not found same. I even sent an inbox to a practising lawyer, who posted the same supposed court ruling, inquiring where and how the case came about but he could not respond, instead he said that since I was an enlightened person, I should do the necessary research.

“A young man is dead and nothing can bring him back. He died because he bought into fake news, bandied on this medium to cause mayhem. Let us all learn from this sad and tragic incident. To some, fake news is their idea of a joke but this has shown us all that the consequences could be tragic sometimes.”

Vanguard News Nigeria