Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma and his predecessor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, returned to the trenches yesterday over the arrest of the latter’s son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, by the police.
Nwosu, the candidate of Action Alliance in the 2019 governorship of Imo State, was arrested yesterday at the St Peter’s Anglican Church at Eziama Obieri in Nkwerre local government area of the state.
While Nwosu’s arrest initially sparked rumours of his kidnap, the Imo State Police Command public relations officer, Micheal Abattam, said the former governorship candidate was arrested by the police.
Abattam, in a statement, said, “Chief Uche Nwosu was not kidnapped but was arrested by the police and Imo State police command is aware of the arrest and, at present, he is in police custody.”
No reason was given for his arrest.
The state police commissioner, Hussani Rabiu, urged the public to shun fake news while assuring them of the police’s commitment to ensuring the safety of life and property during the Yuletide season.
Last week, three state lawmakers were suspended for attending the burial ceremony for Nwosu’s mother on the excuse that they abandoned legislative duties.
However, Nwosu’s arrest reignites a running political battle between Uzodimma and Okorocha which came to a head shortly before the 2019 governorship election in the state when Okorocha had insisted on his son-in-law picking the party’s governorship ticket ahead of then Senator Uzodinma, but the latter prevailed in the contest.
Reacting to the situation, Okorocha said Nwosu’s arrest was a desecration of the church and accused Governor Uzodimma of deceiving the inspector-general of police (IGP) into carrying out the action.
Okorocha, who spoke at his Spibat residence in Owerri a few hours after Nwosu was whisked away by the police, said Uzodimma wanted to frame up his family to divert attention from his non-performance.
He urged the police to declare the offence of his son-in-law and charge him to court within 24 hours as enshrined in the constitution, or release him unconditionally.
The former governor further accused the police of humiliating his wife, Nneoma, and daughter, Uloma, while arresting Nwosu. He said his wife was pushed down and his daughter’s clothes torn to pieces in public.
According to Okorocha, “It was the worst humiliation in my life.”
An angry Okorocha continued, “I want to know the offence my son in-law has committed that they rough-handled him, because I’m yet to be informed.
“I have called the inspector-general of police. His number was switched off. I have called the commissioner of police (CP). He said the order came from above.
“Uche Nwosu, my wife and daughter were at the church for an outing service when a group of men in police uniform, while the sermon was on going, started shooting.
“In the course of their activities, they pushed down my wife and they tore my daughter’s clothes. No warrant of arrest. No invitation.
“We suspected kidnapping at first. Many people were injured while running. Uche Nwosu was dragged into a bus carrying Imo State government number.
“They were identified as policemen from Imo State Government House by their colleagues attached to Uche for the burial. I got the CP who said that the IGP approved his arrest.”
The former governor, who expressed shock over the arrest, said it was unfortunate that members of his family had been humiliated.
He added that most security operatives in Imo know nothing about the arrest.
“I don’t know what they framed him (Nwosu) up for. IGP could only do this on a high level of misinformation from Hope Uzodimma. Over one hundred gunshots to arrest Uche Nwosu. What kind of a ruthless behaviour on innocent citizen of Nigeria?
“Hope Uzodimma has shown tremendous heat to me and members of my family. Lawmakers who attended the burial were suspended.
“I am waiting to hear the offence of Uche Nwosu. Recall that Hope Uzodimma said he is going to name sponsors of insecurity in Imo State on January 3.
“I know he has nothing to offer than to cook up a story. Last time he ordered my arrest and one security officer ordered me to enter the pickup vehicle. Uzodimma wants to frame me up by all means. Uzodinma has to answer for most of the activities going on.
“Uzodimma must mention the names of those who are responsible for insecurity in Imo State or he should be held responsible for all the killings in the state. Uzodimma has framed up something against Uche Nwosu. Buhari should be informed about what is happening in Imo State.”
He lamented that the happenings in Imo State were under-reported.
“How come it is only Abuja and the Imo Government House that know about the arrest? Everybody knows that Uche Nwosu can’t hurt an ant.
“I want to know the reason for the attack on a church, why Uche Nwosu should be treated like a criminal; Imo government should provide answers immediately. You can’t be a governor by intimidation. Using diversion for his non-performance can’t work,” he said.
Responding, however, Uzodimma who denied involvement in the arrest, said Okorocha was in a state of panic and acting incoherently rather than wait for the police to give reasons for their action.
Uzodimma via the state information commissioner, Chief Declan Emelumba, likened Okorocha to a person in a state of confusion.
He told LEADERSHIP that Okorocha ought to wait for the police to declare the offence of Nwosu rather than throw tantrums.
Emelumba said, “Okorocha is in a state of panic, and talking incoherently, somebody who is guilty otherwise he would not have jumped into conclusions. He accused the government saying he saw government vehicles; has he seen those vehicles in Government House before?” he queried.
He said after the police commissioner confirmed that the arrest was ordered by the IGP to Okorocha, he ought to wait to see the course of law take effect.
“How does it translate to hating his family. Rather he went ahead to defend the IGP and claimed Uzodimma hates his family, which is a lie,” he said.
Emelumba added, “He stole Imo people money, he stole Imo patrimony, and if he is so shameless to admit it, the immediate evidence shows some had been recovered from him. Is it the lands he took, or his wife’s Royal Spring Palm? The position is that the state government has absolutely no hands in his travails; it is the law.
“Uzodinma has no hand. It’s the law that caught up with him. It has nothing to do with Uzodinma. The warrant has nothing to do with us. If he commits an offence, he should be arrested to face the music; he is not above the law,” the commissioner declared.
On last week’s burial of Nwosu’s mother that turned into a political carnival, Emelumba insisted it was not a problem as it showed Nwosu gave his late mother a befitting burial.