Imo: A Season Of Lawlessness And Criminal Brigandage – By Dr. Kelechi Okpaleke

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It is now about a month since the news report by PUNCH NEWSPAPER that our Dear Governor, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha physically assaulted an aide of a fellow Governor. The dust raised by this report is yet to die down before the recent report of assaults and abductions of elected local council officials in Orlu, Owerri Municipal and Owerri North Local Governments, by some high ranking members of Governor Okorocha’s cabinet.

On Monday, November 12, 2012, the taskforce constituted by the Imo government to forcibly evict the elected local government councilors and chairmen from the local government council offices invaded Orlu, Owerri Municipal and Owerri North local Government headquarters with thugs.


A local Newspaper reported that two (2) Commissioners, Iche Uche Best Mbanaso and Kenneth Emelu, in company of fierce looking youths stormed the council premises of Owerri Municipal in a commando style raid and allegedly whisked away the secretary to the Owerri Municipal Government, Mr. Felix Nnodim to an unknown destination. And in Orlu local government council, the Commissioner for Chieftaincy and local Government, Hon. Jerry Okoli led the operation where they unleashed mayhem on victims. One of the councilors was beaten to a state of coma and his condition cannot be ascertained at as of press time, by the newspaper.

The special advicer to the Governor on Security Owerri Zone, Hon, Onyeukwu led the operation to Owerri North local Government headquarters, where the chairman, Dr. Ogwo was also abducted and taken to an unknown destination.

I believe it was Herodotus that said, “Circumstances rule men”. But true leaders emerge amongst men in times of adversity. True leadership is actually defined by how adversity is handled.

Opportunistic criminal behaviour is most times a product of adversity. A hungry child who steals akara from an unattentive akara seller may have committed a criminal act of Larceny, but the child may also have succumbed to this crime due to the adversity unleashed by hunger pains. He or she is therefore only an opportunistic criminal.

In the above situation, hunger was the adversity that created an opportunistic criminal in a child. But the situation is different with regards to the alleged slapping of ANOTHER Governor’s aide and the current invasion and abduction of elected officials. In both of these situations, the adversity that precipitated these criminal actions were created by the government.

In the Alex Ekwueme birthday situation, it is alleged that the reason our Governor assaulting the aide of another governor was because our governor was not reserved a seat at the occasion like other Governors from the South East because he refused to contribute the agreed sum for the birthday celebration. In essence by refusing to contribute, the Imo Government created the adversity that result in the fisticuff. The Imo State Rescue Mission Government created the adversity because gate-crashing a party as one of the hosts while refusing to contribute your quota to the hosting of the party is a reckless act and this recklessness is responsible for the incident of alleged assault reported by Punch Newspapers – a Nationwide publication.

Similarly, the lawless Brigandage exhibited in the abduction of elected local government officials by the so called eviction taskforce was as a result of the adversity created in the Imo State Local Council Government by the illegal and unconstitutional dissolution of councils by the Governor. In essence, the Rescue Government of Imo State, deliberately created the adversity in the local government administration, and yet the same Government tried to cure this deliberately created adversity through Brigandage and lawlessness.

On June 6th 2011, Governor Okorocha after only about a week in office made a broadcast upon which he dissolved elected local government councils of the state. Everybody in Nigeria knows that a governor does not have the constitutional authority to dissolve elected local government councils.

PDP at this juncture could have advised the elected chairman and councilors not to vacate their offices. But for the sake of peace, PDP did advice the chairman and councilors to vacate their offices and resort to the courts, which they did. This is the mark and essence of leadership. The Peoples Democratic Party chairman in the state, Chief Duru Iheoma(S.A.N) must be commended. He exhibited an uncanny leadership in the face of adversity. He did not advice nor encourage his members to choose lawlessness and Brigandage; instead he directed them towards the rule of law.

For over 14 months, the elected council chairman and councilors fought a litigation war in the courts for their mandate. On July 5th 2012, they eventually prevailed with the Court of Appeal Owerri ruling that they should be returned back to their offices.

Inspite of this ruling, when the elected chairman tried to return back to their offices, they were met with physical resistance from the Imo Rescue Mission government prompting the Attorney General of the federation to intercede. It took the inspector General of Police to escort them back to their offices. Just a few days after being escorted back to their offices by the police, the Rescue Mission Government announced that their tenure had expired and that they should vacate their offices. This began the second phase of the litigation in the Imo local government councils. The elected local council chairmen went to court claiming that their tenure ends in August 2013. Meanwhile the court entered an Order for the statuesquo to remain until the case is heard. It is in reaction to this Order that the taskforce for the eviction of elected chairmen and councilors from their offices was formed.

The above two examples show the modus of operation by the Imo Rescue Government. A Government that deliberately create artificial adversity in governance only to unleash Brigandage and lawlessness.

The rumour in the State since the recent abductions of elected council members is that the operation was carried out with graduates of the so called Imo College of Advance professional Studies (ICAPS). The rumour is that the first batch of graduates of the Institution in the area of advance security training are simply thugs being trained to be used for operations such as the one that took place last Monday.

This raises the following questions that should be answered by the Honourable Commissioner for Education and the Committee on Education in the Imo House of Assembly.
• Is there an enabling Law for Imo College of Advance Professional Studies?
• If there is such a law, why is the Institution not accredited by any accreditation body in the country?
• What type of degree or certificate is awarded by the institution and what are the duration of the courses offered by the institution?
• If there is not an enabling law for this institution where is the source of funding for the institution coming from?

NDI Imo, it is vital that these questions are answered by the administration and the House of Assembly. When the Commonwealth of Imo people is committed to any institution, we must be in the know of what exactly our Commonwealth is funding. I do not believe that any well meaning Imo person will endorse the use of the state’s treasury in funding the training of thugs. The abduction of elected local council officials may just be a blessing in disguise for the entire people of Imo State at least with respect to ICAPS. The Association of this shadowy institution without any accreditation by any National regulatory body or accreditation body may be why Imo people need to start asking appropriate questions.

News report by local papers stated that some of the suspects arrested by the police had fake police uniforms. These suspects allegedly accompanied Okorocha’s aides to the aforementioned three local government headquarters to unleash mayhem on the elected council officials. Most, if not all these suspects are graduate of Imo College of Advance Studies.

NDI Imo, we all agree that Imo must be better. Can Imo really be better under Executive lawlessness and criminal brigandage? Without peace in the polity, Imo cannot be better. In God, there will always be peace and tranquility. So let us all join hands and return Imo back into the hands of God.


DR. KELECHI OKPALAEKE writes from Owerri in Imo state

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