The Imo State Government and the Senator representing Imo West in the National Assembly, Rochas Okorocha, yesterday traded words over the arrest of the 2019 governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) Chief Uche Nwosu.
Nwosu, who is also Okorocha’s son-in-law, was arrested at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Eziama-Obaire in Nkwerre Local Government Area of the state by policemen in connection with “a case that is under investigation.”
The manner of his arrest had triggered rumours that he was kidnapped until the Police Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Michael Abattam, clarified that he was arrested, following an order from above.
It was alleged that “gunmen” stormed the church during the outing service of Nwosu’s mother, Jemamah Nwosu, and shot sporadically into the air.
Associates also alleged that the “gunmen” bundled the politician into the trunk of a waiting vehicle before speeding away..
But Okorocha, who said his wife, Nnenna, and daughter, Uloma Nwosu, were in the church when the operation took place, said Governor Hope Uzodimma ”is 100 per cent responsible” for the arrest of Nwosu.
“Hope Uzodimma deceived Abuja for the arrest of Uche Nwosu. Hope Uzodinma is 1,000 per cent responsible for the arrest. It is either Uzodinma is the IGP (Inspector-General of Police) or the governor of Imo State,” he told reporters at his Owerri residence.
The former governor, who claimed that his son-in-law was “dragged into a bus carrying Imo State Government number,” said he did not know his whereabouts.
He also accused the operatives of humiliating his wife by pushing her down and his daughter by tearing her clothes.
The former governor, who described the incident as “the worst humiliation in my life,” said President Muhammadu Buhari “should be informed about what is happening in Imo State.”
His words: “My wife was pushed down and my daughter’s clothes were torn into pieces by the policemen who came into the church to arrest Uche Nwosu with no warrant of arrest.
“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 (Hussaini Rabiu). 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 ongoing, 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 plate 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 IGP approved his arrest.
“The shock of such arrest without warrant and humiliating members of my family are unfortunate. Most security operatives in Imo State know nothing about the arrest. I don’t know what they framed up. The IGP could only do this on high-level misinformation from Hope Uzodinma.
“Over one hundred gunshots to arrest Uche Nwosu? What kind of ruthless behavior on innocent citizens 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 Uzodinma said he is going to name sponsors of insecurity in Imo state on January 3.
“I know he has nothing other than to cook up a story. Last time, he ordered my arrest and one security officer ordered me to enter the pick-up vehicle.
“Uzodimma wants to frame me up by all means. Uzodinma has to answer for most of the activities going on. Uzodinma 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. Hundreds of citizens are been killed in this state.
“How come it is only Abuja and Imo State government House that know about the arrest. I want to know the reason for the attack on a church and, why Uche Nwosu should be treated like a criminal.
Imo State Government should provide answers immediately. You can’t be governor of the people by intimidation”
Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy Declan Emelumba said Okorocha’s reaction has proved him guilty as ”all he wants to do is to whip up sentiments among Imo citizens.”
He told reporters at the Government House, that the former governor should have waited for the law to take its course before reacting.
Emelumba said: “If Uche Nwosu is arrested, what he (Okorocha) should do is to wait and see why he was arrested. But he is talking incoherently and that will not save him. What he should do is wait for the law to take its course.
“All of you went to Orsu and saw the carnage there. I am not saying he is linked to the incident. You also witnessed his statement during his mother-in-law’s burial where he invited youths to protest. All these are evidence of his inciting actions in the state.”
The commissioner, who denied government’s involvement in the arrest, said: “The government has no hand in the arrest of Uche Nwosu, but any attempt by Okorocha to use it to cause panic is evidence of guilt and that cannot save him.
“Okorocha contradicted himself when he said that the commissioner of police told him that the order came from the IGP and at the same time he said that the arrest was ordered by the governor. This shows that he is speaking incoherently and that cannot save him.”
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the police for arresting Nwosu inside in a church.
It urged the Police Service Commission (PSC) to investigate the arrest, which it described as an unprofessional conduct.
HURIWA said: ”The reckless and ruthlessly lawless mannerisms displayed by the Imo State Police Command in the vicinity of the church will make it impossible for citizens to separate terrorists from law enforcers because under democracy, the operatives of the law enforcement agencies are bound by rules of civility and law-based approach to law enforcement.
“The method adopted by the police violates the Nigerian Police Act of 2020 in which several provisions mandate the police to treat citizens with dignity and to respect their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
“We condemn this criminal tendency by the Imo State Police Command and this has given credence to the report documented by Amnesty International in which the global human rights body accused the command of the use of extrajudicial executions of innocent citizens as their law enforcement tactics. This sort of unprovoked violence and primitive show of force by the Imo State Police Command is unconstitutional, illegal, despicable, treacherous, and reprehensible.
“This was why everyone in Nigeria believed that the shooters were kidnappers long before the police issued a tepid press statement claiming to have arrested Uche Nwosu.”