…..NBA, Imo Leaders Kick
By JAMES EZEMA
Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has been reported to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the demolition of the Ekeukwu market, even as Imo leaders and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) call for his impeachment, describing the governor as a tyrant.
Violence had broken out in Owerri, the Imo State following the demolition, which led to the death of a 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi. The boy hails from Anambra State.
An Abuja-based lawyer, Charles Mbalisi, has reported dragged the governor to the NHRC over his alleged role in the incident.
Governor Okorocha and nine others were named in a petition obtained by journalists in Abuja.
In a statement released to the media late on Saturday by Governor Rochas Okorocha’s chief press secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, the state government denied any death during the demolition.
The petitioner, Charles Mbalisi, is asking for a proper investigation of the Imo Government, the police and its commissioner in the state and the Nigerian Army over the demolition of the market and the killing of young boy.
The lawyer argued that the NHRC has the power, through section 6 (1), (2) a, b, and c of its act, to conduct investigations and inquiries into complaints of human rights abuses like it happened in Owerri.
“Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian constitution, says the boy has the constitutional right to life and that right has been deprived.
“That is why we have brought this to the human rights commission.
“The commission has every constitutional right to investigate and make inquiries in respect of the cause of the death of the boy.
“Anyone found culpable or liable will then be charged to court by the commission to ensure that justice is done,” he said in the petition arguing that the use of live bullets by the security agencies against the harmless citizens was unwarranted, brutal and unprofessional.
The NBA chairman in Imo State, Lawrence Nwaketi, in another development described the action of the government as a flagrant disobedience of subsisting court orders on the issue.
Nwaketi fumed that “the governor has glaringly abused some provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, which he swore to protect.”
Making particular reference to the invasion and destruction of Ekeukwu Owerri Market, Nwaketi recalled that there is a subsisting High Court order, restraining the state government, its servants and agents, from tampering with or relocating the market, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Nwaketi, however, called on Imo people to begin the process of recalling their lawmakers “if they fail to remove the governor”.
Community leaders from the three senatorial districts of Imo State has told the State House of Assembly to, without delay, commence the impeachment process of the governor who they accused of turning himself into a tyrant in the way he was managing the affairs of the state.
The Imo leaders’ anger was as a result of the demolition of the ancestral Ekeukwu market initially known as Ogwumabiri market and the killing of the 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu.
This is even as the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Anthony Obinna, decried the shedding of blood in Owerri by the government agents.
In the Archbishop’s word: “Government should ask itself if the relocation of Ekeukwu Owerri market is worth the drop of any person’s blood.
“The sad death of the 10-year old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, portrays government in very bad light.”
On the alleged movement of Ekeukwu Owerri to Egbeada, Archbishop Obinna sought to know if the Governor was bent on totally obliterating the name of the ancestral market.
“I have it on record that the issue of Ekeukwu Owerri is in court, but I really can’t say why Imo State Government did not respect the High Court order”, Obinna said.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, the leaders from Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu senatorial districts under the umbrella of Concerned Imo Leaders who wore black attires, signifying mourning, claimed that the state had been sliding and that the event of last week’s demolition of the Ekeukwu market and the alleged murder of four persons were the climax of its sliding.
The Spokesperson of the group, Chief Sam Obaji, flanked by the immediate past chairman of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi; the leader of Owerri socio-cultural organisation, Dozie Owerri, Chief Tony Anyadike, and Okey Ikpe said Governor Okorocha had turned himself into an emperor and was heating up the polity in the state.
They said: “As political, social and cultural leaders from across Imo State, we address you today with sorrowful hearts at the happenings in our beloved Imo State, especially the destruction of lives and property in Owerri during last Saturday’s unlawful, reckless and unprofitable demolition of the ancient and iconic Eke-ukwu Owerri Main Market.
“At the wake of that demolition, four persons were killed, many more wounded and property worth billions of naira destroyed by armed military personnel on the instruction of the state government.
“Killing of Somtochukwu “Most heartrending is the killing of 10-year-old Somtochukwu Igboanusi of 9, Oguamalam Street who hailed from Anambra State. That child was gunned down as he tried to clear wares from his father’s shop.
“Since Governor Okorocha assumed power in Imo State, he has managed affairs of the state in a manner that suggests he has a hidden agenda against the Owerri Senatorial Zone and the entire people of Imo State.
“His unplanned urban development project has resulted in the complete dilapidation of roads in the state capital, the flooding of major streets in Owerri whenever there is slight rainfall and the complete deterioration of physical and social infrastructure in the entire state.”, the leaders stated.
The group chronicled alleged atrocities of the governor since he assumed office, to include deceit, and demanded “that in view of Governor Rocha’s clearly established leadership incompetence and serial blunders on the most elemental duties of governance, he should honourably resign as governor of Imo State.
“That if Governor Okorocha refuses to resign, members of the Imo State House of Assembly should immediately proceed to impeach him from office as governor of Imo State.
“That the government of Imo State should refrain from further violation of the court orders in respect of these demolitions. That the President should institute a judicial commission of inquiry into the circumstances of the use of armed forces personnel in this unlawful operation and ensure anyone who played a role in this unlawful deployment of the military should be prosecuted according to the law.”
However, in his reaction, Governor Okorocha in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said the protesters were not Owerri indigenes.
“The fact is that those behind the press conference in Abuja today (yesterday) or involved in protest over the relocation of Ekeukwu Market are not Owerri indigenes but few politicians from the state mostly of the PDP extraction who are only keen in coming back to power in the state in 2019 after Imo people had voted them out in 2011 and also voted against them in 2015.
“The Owerri indigenes are here in the state and are happy with the level of development in Owerri courtesy of Governor Rochas Okorocha.
“After all, the PDP governments in the state for 12 years had tried to relocate Ekeukwu Market but could not do so because they lacked the political will and they were not keen in developing the state”, the governor said.