Fourteen aides of former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, were yesterday, arraigned before a magistrate’s court in Owerri for allegedly conspiring to commit misdemeanor and an attempt to overthrow the state government.x
The offence, according to the court, is punishable under Section 517 of the Criminal Code caption C38, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 as applicable in Imo State.
Okorocha, expected in the court, was not arraigned.
Those arraigned before the court were Obasi Goodluck, Nwaiwu Ndubuisi, Median Ijeoma, Obor Victor, Ucheka Claudin, Sunday Chisom, Nev Raphael, Epkpendu Peace, Basil Mba, Steve Asimobi, Ebere Nwokeji, Eberendu Chimechifulam, Olu Chzoba and Ibekwe Darlington.
All the defendants were also charged for disobedience of the law of the state government by removing the seal placed on the premises of the Royal Palm Spring Estate.x
The magistrate, B.U. Adike, in her ruling, declared that all the offences were bailable but added that the nature of the charge was a factor to be considered for bail application.
The magistrate, therefore, granted the defendants bail with an option of N5 million each and a surety who must either be a traditional ruler or a cabinet member with valid identification documents.
Meanwhile, as the magistrate commenced ruling, one of the suspects, Ibekwe, slumped in the courtroom but was revived few minutes later.
IN the meantime, the former governor yesterday explained to journalists his experience in the hands of the police before and during his detention, alleging complicity to dehumanise him and his aides.x
He alleged display of thuggery sponsored by the governor, Hope Uzodimma, but commended the Presidency for ensuring his release from police detention.
Okorocha, while addressing scores of his political supporters at his Spibat residence in Owerri, said: “What happened yesterday was a display of thuggery I never expected of a governor. He did what he did to humiliate me. He may not end well as a governor.
“I want to thank the Presidency for intervening in the matter. Those that intervened saved us from a mess.
He accused policemen who arrested him of compromising, saying: “I am not sure that those security men who I saw that day are real policemen and even the army. One of them stabbed my aide. So, I am calling on the police to investigate these officers, including the Special Assistant to Uzodimma, Chinasa Nwaneri and Eric Uwakwe who was shooting and beating my aides.x
“At about 11:00 p.m. or thereabout, they asked me to go. I didn’t want to go because I told them I wanted to stay for three months. I would have remained there, but they prevailed on me.”
But the Chief Press Secretary (CPS), to the governor, Oguwike Nwachuku, dismissed the allegation against Uzodimma, maintaining that the governor has no hand in the entire saga.
The CPS said that it was the state government vs Okorocha affair.
IN another development, the South-East Governors’ Forum, yesterday, said it had waded into the face-off between Uzodimma and Okorocha, adding that the two have agreed to settle.
In a statement in Abakaliki, Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, said that the Forum was capable of resolving the issue, noting that they had already made contacts and assured that the parties to the dispute had agreed to a truce.x