Former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, has alleged that the incumbent governor, Hope Uzodinma, is sponsoring unknown gunmen carrying out the killings in the state.
He also alleged that the controversial arrest of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, by the police during a church service on Sunday, was actually an assassination attempt on Mr Nwosu.
The former governor made the allegations while appearing on “Politics Today”, a political programme on Channels TV on Tuesday.
But Mr Uzodinma denied the claim and challenged Mr Okorocha to provide evidence to back his allegation.
Mr Nwosu, the candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) in the 2019 governorship election was arrested on December 26, during a service at the St Peter’s Anglican Church, Eziama Obaire in Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State.
According to reports, masked police officers fired gunshots in the air and reportedly assaulted Mr Nwosu, his wife (Okorocha’s daughter), and others before his arrest.
Photographs of Mr Nwosu in handcuffs trended on major social media platforms.
Mr Nwosu wore only a white singlet in the photographs, giving credence to the claim that he was assaulted and his clothes torn during his arrest.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the Anglican Church condemned the arrest of Mr Nwosu in the Church.
Mr Okorocha, who supported Mr Nwosu to succeed him during the governorship election, refuted the claim that Mr Nwosu was arrested for alleged links to armed groups.
He alleged that unknown gunmen are taking directives from the Imo State Government.
“They took him out and cocked their guns to shoot him. What saved Nwosu was social media. When they realised it has gotten to social media, they panicked and the fact that he understands Hausa……
“Unknown gunmen have been unravelled in Imo State. As it stands now, these people are under the directive of the government of Imo State led by Hope Uzodinma.
“It is obvious that the squad in the Government House are used for killing purposes or for the unholy act. The unknown gunmen in Imo State are gradually coming out. IPOB will claim that they are not the ones. Look at the way people are being killed, look at the way traditional leaders are being killed,” he said.
Mr Okorocha, who is currently the senator for Imo West, said Mr Uzodinma has been manipulating the presidency on the deployment of the military to target political opponents in the state.
He, therefore, called for the intervention of the federal government to unravel the unknown gunmen in the state.
Okorocha notorious for lies, need medical examination — Imo State Government
The Imo State Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba, did not pick calls by this newspaper to his mobile telephone nor did he reply to a text message sent to him.
But when contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the Imo State Governor, Oguike Nwachukwu, challenged Mr Okorocha to provide evidence to back his allegations.
He also accused Mr Okorocha of lying to garner public sympathy, adding that the former governor should be saved from himself.
“These are allegations, and Okorocha is notorious for lies. For eight years, he told the Imo people lies. He is soliciting attention by going to television stations. All these are hearsay. If he has evidence, he should provide the same.
“Okorocha should be saved from himself. He needs to be saved from himself. He needs some medical re-examination. Because he is muddling up issues, perhaps a psychiatric examination. It is not everyone that talks that is normal.
“It is unfortunate that Imo State ended up with such a character for eight years as governor and again elected as a senator,” Mr Nwachukwu said.
The enmity between Messrs Okorocha and Uzodinma could be traced to the outcome of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries in 2018.
READ ALSO: Photos of Okorocha’s in-law in handcuffs surface online
The struggle for the state governorship ticket pitched the two political gladiators in the state against each other as the latter wanted Mr Nwosu, his son-in-law, to succeed him.
The battle for the ticket led to the decamping of Mr Nwosu to AA following his inability to secure the ticket in APC.
In 2020, Mr Uzodinma was declared governor of Imo State after the Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha, the PDP candidate, who had earlier been declared winner of the election in 2019.
The court had voided the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel 388 polling units during the election.
Mr Uzodinma’s tenure has witnessed large-scale attacks by unknown gunmen, including the killing of Ahmed Gulak, a former presidential adviser from Adamawa State, during a visit to the South-east state.
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