South East govs wade into Uzodinma, Okorocha faceoff

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…As police arraign ex-gov’s supporters over fracas

The South-East Governors Forum has waded into the faceoff between the Imo State government and the former governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha.

Trouble started on February 21, when Okorocha allegedly broke into the Royal Spring Palm Apartment, Owerri, which had earlier been sealed by the government on February 19, culminating in a clash between supporters of both camps.

The situation was brought under control by the Imo Police Command, which later arrested the senator.

Chairman of the Forum, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi, State, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Francis Nwaze on Monday, said the Forum is already handling the issue.

Umahi said contacts have already been made to resolve the faceoff, assuring that both parties have agreed to a truce.

The Forum’s chairman urged Imo State and South-east citizens to conduct their business peacefully and according to the law.

“They should also shun provocative statements as we work towards restoring normalcy to the situation.’’

Meanwhile, the police, on Monday, arraigned 14 suspects at an Owerri Magistrate Court, in connection with the fracas.

But during the arraignment, one of the suspects – Darlington Ibekwe – slumped inside the courtroom.

Ibekwe and 13 other loyalists of Senator Okorocha were accused of conspiring among themselves to disobey a lawful order issued by the state by removing the seal of the state government and entering into the sealed premises of Royal Spring Palm Hotel and Apartments belonging to Okorocha.

Police prosecutor, Omo-Osagie M. A. told the court that Okorocha’s former appointees, Lasbery Okaforanyanwu, Ijeoma Igboanusi and his son in-laws, Uche Nwosu and Dr. Uzoma Anwuka, were at large.

While Ibekwe was also accused of publishing a recorded defamatory matter on social media with intent to injure the reputation of the state government and the person of Governor Hope Uzodimma by exposing to hatred, contempt, ridicule and damage his reputation, Olu Chizoba was charged with unlawful possession of double barrel pump action gun without license.

After a six-count charge was read to the suspects, council to the defendants, Eddy Onyema, sought for their bail, assuring that they would return to the court to take their trial.

Onyema noted that none of the charges against the defendants was a capital offence, said, “worst, some of them are felony. That’s why we’re seeking for their bail”.

When the magistrate, B. U. Adikaibe, returned to the courtroom for her ruling, a suspect, Ibekwe, slumped.

He was however, revived by his fellow suspects, who pleaded for water with which he was revived.

After the incident, the court had without delay given its ruling by granting all 14 accused persons bail with N5 million each totaling 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 Chimechifulam and Olu Chizoba.

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