Senator Rochas Okorocha, a former governor of Imo State, has accused Hope Uzodinma, the incumbent state governor, of empowering his aides to hire “more than 1000 thugs” to attack him.
Okorocha said this in a statement issued by Sam Onwuemeodo, his spokesperson, hours after he was arrested by the Nigeria Police Force on Sunday.
Okorocha, the lawmaker representing Imo West Senatorial District, was arrested alongside Ijeoma Igboanusi and Lasbrey Okafor-Anyanwu for allegedly destroying government and security vehicles and also breaking into the Royal Spring Palm Estate in the Akachi area of Owerri, the state capital, linked to his wife, Nkechi, which the government had seized.
According to the former governor, Governor Uzodinma’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Chinasa Nwanari, aled thugs, who stormed the estate and destroyed vehicles in his convoy.
The statement read: “More than 1,000 thugs, armed to teeth with knives and guns and led by Chinasa Nwaneri, Governor Hope Uzodinma’s Special Adviser on Special Duties today, Sunday, with the backing of armed policemen from Government House, attacked the former governor of the state and Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Senator Rochas Okorocha’s convoy.
“They attacked and damaged all the vehicles in his convoy. They also attacked his personal aides. Senator Okorocha was with only his personal aides when the thugs unleashed the attack.
“Okorocha has the strongest political structure in the state and teaming followers in the State. If he had expected the attack, he would not have moved with his personal aides alone.
“Okorocha has never been a violent man. This planned attack but unprovoked and unwarranted has opened a new, but ugly chapter in the politics of the State. We shall react fully to the situation.”
Speaking later on Channels Television, Okorocha said he is still shocked over the scenario that played out, noting that many people were injured.
He alleged that a top aide to Governor Uzodinma controlled the thugs and was giving them instructions on what to do.
He claimed the governor’s Special Assistant pulled out his shirt, armed with a machete to cut him.
Okorocha said: “I am still at a very deep shock and confused as to what is happening here. Particularly of note, what shocked me was the SA to the Governor pulled out his shirt, carried the machete himself and was coming to machete me while I was moved out.
“He was calling the boys ‘come, come.’ He was in charge and the police were following him. When they arrested me so to say, the SA to the Governor entered the pickup and came to the police station with their own video.
“They were making jest of me that there is only one governor in the state, there is only one immunity that they are going to deal with me. I can’t believe it.”
But reacting, the Imo State government dismissed Okorocha’s claim.
According to Declan Emelumba, the state Commissioner for Information, the sealing of the estate was in line with the report of a White Paper, which indicated that the property was built with taxpayers’ money.
“There was a judicial panel of inquiry that looked into land use and related matters set up by the Emeka Ihedioha administration, which we inherited and retained. They came up with a report and government accepted it, and then turned it to a White Paper.
“Part of the White Paper’s report indicates that the Royal Palm Estate was built with taxpayers’ money, but Okorocha claims it is his wife’s own. However, the report says it was built with government money.
“The facility even violated Owerri master plan as well. Two days ago, the state government went and sealed the place in accordance with the White Paper. Then today, Okorocha, on his own, led thugs and carried hammer to unseal what government sealed off in line with the dictates of the law.
“He (Okorocha) was there, saying he is daring Governor Uzodinma to come and stop him if he (Uzodinma) has courage. This is lawlessness. So, police went there and caught him in the act and arrested him and some of his aides who arrested him.
The commissioner added that Okorocha “would be taken to court tomorrow (Monday)”.
He also debunked claims by the ex-governor was attacked by over 1,000 thugs.
“If 1,000 thugs attacked him, would he be alive now? What then would be the business of the police if 1,000 thugs attacked and took him (Okorocha) away,” Emelumba queried.