Fourteen associates of former Governor Rochas Okorocha were yesterday arraigned and granted bail in the sum of N70 million.
One of the suspects, Darlington Ibekwe, who was also docked alongside 13 others for breaking into a property sealed by government, slumped inside the courtroom.
Okorocha was arrested and kept at the Imo Police Command headquarters, Owerri until late on Sunday when he was granted administrative bail. Ibekwe and 13 other loyalists of Senator Okorocha were accused of conspiring among themselves to disobey a lawful order issued by the state by breaking into the premises of Royal Spring Palm Hotel and Apartments sealed by the Imo State government. The property in dispute was hitherto owned and managed by wife of the former governor, Nkechi Okorocha.
Police prosecutor, Omo- Osagie M. A. told the Magistrate Court 4 that Okorocha’s former appointees, Lasbery Okaforanyanwu, Ijeoma Igboanusi and his son-in-laws, Uche Nwosu and Dr. Uzomah Anwukah were at large.
While Ibekwe was also accused of publishing a defamatory content on social media with intent to damage the reputation of the state government and Governor Hope Uzodinma, Olu Chizoba was charged with unlawful possession of double barrel pump action gun without license.
After the six-count charge was read to the suspects, counsel to the defendants, Eddy Onyema, made a bail request for the suspects, assuring that they would be made available to the court to stand trial.
Onyema, who noted that none of the charges against the defendants were capital offences, said “the worst of the charges are felonies. That’s why we’re seeking for their bail”. When the Magistrate, B. U. Adikaibe, returned to the courtroom for her ruling after about 20 minutes break, the suspect, Ibekwe, slumped.
After Ibekwe was revived with help from his fellow suspects, the court, without delay, gave its ruling and granted all the 14 accused persons bail at the cost of N5 million each totalling N70 million, a condition the court said must be fulfilled before they would regain their freedom. Those arraigned with Ibekwe included Obasi Goodluck, Nwaiwu Ndubuisi, Median Ijeoma, Obor Victor, Ucheka Claudin, Sunday Chisom and Ekpendu Peace. Others were Nev F. Raphael, Basil Mba, Steve Asimobi, Ebere Nwokeji, Eberendu Chimechefulam and Olu Chizoba. Meanwhile, Okorocha has accused Governor Uzodinma of wilfully inviting anarchy. Okorocha also called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to arrest the Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Duties, Mr. Chinasa Nwaneri, and the Senior Special Assistant on Youths, Mr. Eric Uwakwe. The former governor alleged that in his presence, Nwaneri and his thugs were macheting his aides while the Police watched unperturbed.
“The governor is inciting violence on a daily basis in Imo State. This is apparently the same reason he influenced a law in the Imo House of Assembly empowering him to arrest and detain anybody at will. Now he has unleashed an assault on me and my family.
“He has petitioned EFCC and ICPC, yet they have been unable to prove anything against me. Now he has resorted to self-help and impunity. But I must warn that Uzodinma must not take my calm disposition for granted,”
Okorocha said. Okorocha lamented further that Nwaneri, who is an adviser to Governor Uzodinma, was the one giving out orders to policemen on the scene.
“Nwaneri was before me macheting my orderly, my staff and shooting my inlaw right there in my presence while policemen were there watching and doing nothing. How can the police give cover to criminal shooting and maiming innocent citizens in a state governed by laws?”
Okorocha said. He continued: “I’m convinced that some of those people in police uniform are not policemen because it was a policeman that stabbed my orderly, Samuel. The IGP must arrest those policemen or those hoodlums who dressed in police uniforms to attack me and my aides.
“It took me repeated entreaties to restrain my security aides from using live bullets. It would have been a bloodbath and I am particular about the sanctity of the human life. Uzodinma should stop promoting lawlessness and impunity in the guise of governance.”
The Senator said it was wrong for the Commissioner for Land, Enyinnaya Onuegbu, to have gone to the property and arrested guests of the hotels who did absolutely nothing and kept them in police custody before sealing the place.
“So what law did the arrested guests in the hotel break?” Okorocha queried. Okorocha noted that before going to the disputed property,
“I called the Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police and the Director of DSS, they all told me that they deployed no security personnel to the property. So where did the policemen come from?
These were the same policemen Nwaneri was ordering around to do his nefarious bidding while menacingly bearing a machete openly.”
Okorocha maintained that the police will have no justification to arrest anybody else, if they cannot arrest Nwaneri and Uwakwe.