IMO GUBER: Okorocha, Uzodinma in war of words over immunity

OWERRI—GOVERNOR Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and his party’s governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Senator Hope Uzodinma were yesterday locked in a war of words over using the governorship election to fight for immunity from criminal deeds. The contention came as the Presidential Committee on the Recovery of Federal Government Assets gave Senator Uzodinma a deadline of 8.00 p.m. yesterday to appear before it or face another arrest. Meanwhile, the contenders for the governorship ticket were yesterday shifting from pressing buttons in Abuja to turf battles in the state. After fruitless efforts to assert himself on the governorship ticket of the APC, the erstwhile chief of staff to Governor Okorocha, Uche Nwosu arrived Owerri yesterday, with an assurance that hope was still on the way for him. His assurance came as the Allied Forces arrayed against him and his father-in-law, Okorocha marshalled out what was yesterday, described as preparations for a hero’s welcome for Senator Hope Uzodinma, the official candidate of the party.

Action Alliance disowns Okorocha, Nwosu

Meanwhile, the Imo State chapter of Action Alliance, the party promoted by Governor Okorocha in 2005 yesterday disowned the Imo State governor. The party said that it would not offer its platform for the governor to actualise the governorship aspiration of Nwosu. Nwosu was, however, insistent yesterday that he would not join any other political party to promote his governorship aspiration.

Uzodinma wants governorship to acquire immunity against illegalities —Okorocha

Governor Okorocha yesterday, alleged that Uzodinma’s governorship aspiration was conceived to acquire immunity to protect him, against past alleged crimes. The governor in a statement issued in Owerri yesterday said: “Chief Hope Uzodinma who is doing all he could to become governor of Imo State in 2019 and who the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has thrown up as the governorship candidate of the party in Imo does not want to become governor to actually govern the state but to enjoy immunity to enable him escape from the criminal trials he is facing at the moment. “Uzodinma is facing trial over the issuance of a dud cheque and the trial Judge; Justice Abdulwahab Muhammed was reported to have referred the case to EFCC for investigation and the necessary actions. He is also on trial over non-declaration of assets, and the case is before Justice Babatunde Quadiri of Federal High Court Abuja. “He was also arrested last Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property over an alleged breach of contract to the tune of $12.5 million. This is the man Oshiomhole wants to govern Imo people. If Oshiomhole had asked the questions and if he were to be keen in APC’s victory in Imo, he would not have gone into any deal with Chief Uzodinma.”

You want to use your son-in-law to cover your crimes, Uzodinma replies Okorocha

The allegation was immediately pooh-poohed yesterday by the Uzodinma campaign which said that Okorocha was the one who was desperate to hide something and hence his desperation for his son-in-law to be governor. Speaking through Mr. Emelumba, the campaign spokesman, he said: “Senator Hope Uzodimma has no criminal thing to hide and so does not need any immunity to protect him as governor. Those behind the trumped-up allegations against him think they will use it to obscure his ambition, but they are only exposing their desperation and ignorance because there is no case against him. “If there’s anybody who needs immunity badly it’s Governor Rochas Okorocha because the atrocities he committed against Imo State, are already hunting him. That’s why he said he is ready to spill his blood to make his son-in-law succeed him because that will amount to a third term for him so he can continue to enjoy immunity.

More troubles for Uzodinma

Meanwhile, the Okoi Obono-Obla led panel on the recovery of Federal Government assets yesterday said that it had given Uzodinma till 8.00 p.m. to report after the bail granted him by the panel. Obono-Obla told Vanguard that Uzodinma had begged to be given time and the panel resolved to give him till 8.00 p.m. yesterday and that failure to appear would lead to another arrest. “Yesterday (Monday), he pleaded with us to adjourn the matter to today (Tuesday) by 10 am. So while we were waiting for him by 10 am, he sent us a text message pleading that we should allow him to see us by 8 pm today and we graciously granted that. But we will not extend the time for him again. “So, if we don’t see him this evening by  8 pm as he requested, then we may be forced to arrest him again”. As at press time yesterday, the governorship hopeful was yet to appear before the panel.

Hopeful Nwosu

Speaking to newsmen on his return to the state at the Sam Mbakwe Airport where he was welcomed by hundreds of supporters, Nwosu said that the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole would hand over the governorship ticket of the party to him before December 1. His assertion came days after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had published the name of Senator Hope Uzodimma, as the authentic governorship candidate of the Imo APC.

Imo APC guber candidate storms Owerri, today

Even before Nwosu would settle, the Allied Forces in the party rolled out a plan to receive Senator Uzodimma in Owerri today. The Director of Media and Special Duties of the Uzodinma campaign, Mr. Declan Emelumba, gave the hint to newsmen yesterday in a statement issued in Owerri. He said that Uzodimma alongside the Deputy Governor of  Imo State, Eze Madumere, all the governorship aspirants who contested under APC, serving and former Senators and House of Representatives members from Imo state as well as present and former lawmakers of the Imo state House of Assembly are part of the plan to give heroice welcome to Uzodinma.. But the release noted that Nwosu, will not be among those to welcome the APC, governorship candidate.

The statement read thus:

“A hero’s welcome awaits the APC governorship candidate in Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma as he  storms Imo state tomorrow (today) Wednesday with major party chieftains, including, the state deputy Governor, APC  National Assembly members, federal board chairmen  and notable leaders of the party “Market Women traders and students have volunteered to line the streets of the state for a heroic welcome to the candidate “All the former governorship aspirants of the party, except the governor, ‘s in- law, Uche Nwosu will accompany Senator Uzodimma on the trip from Abuja to Owerri as a mark of solidarity. “The governorship candidate will make flag stops at strategic joints in the capital after which he will address the people at his campaign office at Okigwe road in Owerri.”

Action Alliance disowns Okorocha, Nwosu

Meanwhile, the Imo State Chapter of Action Alliance, AA, has distanced itself from the duo of Governor Okorocha and his son-in-law, Nwosu, saying that they are not members of the party. The State Publicity Secretary of AA, Comrade Ifeanyi Okponwa-Eze, made the party’s stance known, while fielding questions from newsmen, after a party meeting at Urualla, Ideato North Local Government Area of the state. He debunked the rumour making the rounds in the state, to the effect that Okorocha and his son-in-law had found solace in AA, in their bid to actualize the gubernatorial ambition of Nwosu. “We want to be unequivocal on this issue. Governor Okorocha ceased being a member of AA over ten years ago,” the image maker said. While saying that the party leadership was not contesting the fact that Governor Okorocha played a major role at the conception and birth of the party, Okponwa-Eze, however, advised all to note that party business was not a one-man affair. “People must understand that party business is not a one-man affair and can never be, no matter the power such a man arrogates to himself,” Okponwa-Eze said. Answering a question, the AA image maker maintained that “the party is not a dump site or waste yard,” stressing that the state Chapter remained committed to obeying the directives of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC. “AA is neither a dump site nor a waste yard. It is a party where power truly belongs to the masses. We are not ready to make AA a platform for the breeding of future emperors or render it vulnerable for contamination by the emperor-like spirit”, Okponwa-Eze said.