Governor Hope Uzodimma on Tuesday dismissed the claim by the National Assembly member representing Imo West Senatorial Zone, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, that he sent thugs to attack him at the Royal Spring Palm Estate in Owerri.
Rather, Uzodimma said that Okorocha personally went to the estate owned by Nkechi Okorocha but seized by the state government, with thugs who wounded some “policemen and civil defense people.”
The governor told State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that one of civil defence operatives “is currently still in the hospital.”
Also on Tuesday, Uzodimma said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Oguwike Nwachukwu, that Okorocha, a former governor, had found a new pastime: using his name to seek attention.
The Senator had on Monday claimed that thugs and policemen sent on Sunday by the governor would have harmed him but for the swift effort of his orderlies who “rushed me to a room and locked me up.”
Okorocha had said “I want to add that the IGP (Mohammed Adamu) should order the immediate arrest of Chinasa Nwaneri and Eric Uwakwe. They led thugs that injured one of my orderlies and staff with machetes. They also shot Uzor, my in-law, shattering his feet with bullets.”
But Uzodimma countered him yesterday, saying:” Who will assassinate him? I don’t know about any attempt to assassinate Okorocha. Rather, what I know is that I have no personal issues with Okorocha.”
He narrated to the reporters the genesis of the seizure of the estate and the decision of his administration to seal it.
His words: “You will recall that before I became governor, the (Emeka) Ihedioha administration set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into acquisitions and allegations of lands, converting government lands to personal property, and then removing private lands from individuals and giving to other individuals.
“The judicial panel of inquiry chaired by a judge met and they concluded their job and a white paper had since been raised.
“You know institutions and agencies that are involved with implementation are doing their job.
“And the only thing I know is that a few days ago, one of the properties sealed by the government, the former governor went there with his thugs.
“You people saw it, it was was live. He went there with thugs himself, wounded the policemen there, wounded the Civil Defense Civil people. A civil defence officer is currently still in the hospital. He (Okorocha) then broke in (to the estate).
“You must have heard him say that he is richer than government and that he is above the law. I am not directly involved. It is a position taken by the government. There is a difference between a governor and a government.
“The government of Imo State sealed a property. And I think that if there is anything anybody considerS that is not right, the person should go to court and not to take laws into their hands or adopt self-help.
“I remember that under Ihedioha, there was a recovery committee, chaired by one Jasper Ndubaku. When they tried to visit Okorocha’s house, they were beaten to a stupor. And the same man who did that is now also doing the same thing.
“People should know the difference between being a governor and government decisions and policies.”
In the statement by his CPS, the governor said Okorocha was not the only using his name for attention, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was too.
Nwachukwu’s statement partly reads: “No day passes without Senator Okorocha trying to use the name of Governor Uzodimma to either seek or divert the attention of the public from activities linked to him, most of them reprehensible.
“Senator Okorocha does not do this alone, but with the PDP in Imo State, his newest political ally. But we are not surprised.
“It is on record that the Senator recently said he is working in cohort with the opposition to achieve his political ambition, and he has not hidden his romance with key PDP figures in Imo State to undermine the All Progressives Congress(APC) government of Governor Uzodimma.
“Those who have been reading the lips of Governor Uzodimma since he assumed office in January 15, 2020, know that he is not the type who patronises agents of violence, regardless of the circumstances.
“Nothing can be as embarrassing and unfortunate as a former governor deliberately flouting the law and instead of facing the reality, he is busy stoking flame with inciting comments he knows are not a true representation of what the APC government of Governor Uzodimma stands for.
“Senator Okorocha should eat the humble pie, face his case squarely with the police on Royal Spring Estate closure and where he thinks higher authorities can be of assistance, approach them with decorum and responsibly.”
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Southeast Youths Leaders has called on all parties involved in Sunday’s violence in the state to maintain the peace.
Youths are very worried with the ominous potentialities of such a trend. And we want to vigorously condenm in its entirety, the deterioration of security in any place in Igboland. We want to state categorically that no place in Igboland should be turned to war zone for any reason whatsoever,” it said.