By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
There has been a verbal war between the loyalists to Governor of Imo state, Hope Uzodimma and former governor Rochas Okorocha, over the arrest of Okorocha by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to answer questions on alleged financial fraud by Okorocha.
Vanguard yesterday in Owerri, monitored the war of words by the loyalists of Uzodimma and Okorocha, where they made reactions and counter-reactions on the arrest of Okorocha by EFCC.
The battle which started last week has continued, between the governor Uzodimma’s Senior Special Adviser, SSA, on print media, Modestus Nwamkpa and Okorocha’s Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo.
Their disagreement centred on the reasons behind the release of Okorocha, after spending two nights in the EFFC detention house.
In his opinion, Nwamkpa of the Uzodimma’s administration claimed that “The former Governor of Imo state Sen Rochas Okorocha this evening around 5 pm was allowed to go home from the EFCC cell where he spent 48 honour plus after his arrest on Tuesday. Consequently, his followers and supporters have gone berserk and have been jubilating over this.
“Well, It is normal and nobody should blame them. Although, they should have been sober and remorseful for obvious reasons. They made it look as though the former Governor was a superman. No, it is not true and that is why I felt like letting them know the true position of things as regards his release based on my findings.
“However, many of them do not know why the ex-Governor was released this evening. Again, some of them are not even aware of the conditions attached to the release.
“In the first place, EFCC is not a permanent abode for anybody. So there is no big deal that one was arrested and later got released. EFCC arrest is just like a normal police arrest. Once police arrests you, they will take your statement, investigates you and thereafter charge you to a court or get you released on bail. That is just that
“Now, in the case of Okorocha, immediately he was arrested, he cried out to some of his friends across the country for assistance. They came and pleaded to the anti-graft agency for leniency for him on the grounds of ill health.
“The said the ex-Governor is on drugs. Again, the anti-graft Agency reasoned that since the Judiciary staff Union of Nigeria ( JUSUN) workers are on strike over their demand for autonomy for the Judiciary and since nobody knows when it will last, it will finitely hinder the arraignment of the ex-Governor and ultimately prolong his stay at EFCC custody.
The Agency felt that it may infringe on his fundamental human right since there is a stipulated time that EFCC can constitutionally keep a suspect in their custody. So based on these, he was released on self-recognition pending when JUSUN calls off their strike and Court resumes. By that time, his arraignment can then take place. So in effect, his release today was circumstantial.
“The ex-Governor on his own made a promise to comport himself honourable pending when his prosecution begins. He made pleading and gave assurances not to misbehave within the time being. So, I felt like informing you about this. They extracted that commitment from him before a serving Governor from the South-South, a Northern Emir and a former Senator from the North who stood in as sureties.”
In his response, the Okorocha’s Special Adviser on media, Onwuemeodo, said: “About 45 minutes after the officers of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), had allowed Senator Rochas Okorocha to go home, after spending 48 hours with them, the governor of Imo State, Chief Hope Uzodinma, through his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Print Media (Local), Hon. Modestus Nwankpa issued a Press Release giving reasons, why, the Commission allowed Okorocha to go.
“The Press Release, to most people, was shocking and questionable because EFCC has a spokesman and could not have authorized governor Uzodinma to give reasons, why it allowed one of its guests, in the person of Okorocha, to go home, after he had spent 48 hours in their office.
“On our part, we had delayed this reaction to seeing if there would be any denial or disclaimer from the Imo governor, since amateur or overzealous or grossly inexperienced media aides could on their own, go haywire, without the knowledge of their Principal. And having waited for 96 hours without any denial or disclaimer, we decided to react, to the best of our ability.
“With all that governor Uzodinma said, he, on his own, assumed the position of the spokesman of the EFCC or the media aide of the Chairman of EFCC. The reason is that we know full well that, the EFCC, as a very responsible organization or institution, would not have authorized or given Governor Uzodinma the leave, to tell the public why it allowed Okorocha to go after 48 hours. The Imo governor was on his own.
“He only, with the Press Release, strengthened his pursuit of Okorocha for no just reason. He had thrown a lavish party at the Government House on the day Okorocha went to the EFCC office on the invitation. At the party, he told his appointees that Okorocha won’t come out soon. But EFCC having a sound image to protect was not expected to succumb to the whims and caprices of people like Governor Uzodinma. It acted as a responsible institution by allowing Okorocha to go.”