Sunday, August 27, 2017

Owerri Blood on Rochas Okorocha's Hands: Eke-Ukwu Owerri and the Anti-Igbo Governor in the Igbo Heartland


BY NKEM EKEOPARA

On Saturday, August 26, 2017, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, the anti-Igbo Governor
in the Igbo heartland of Imo State continued the destruction of Owerri, the state capital in the name of urban renewal by destroying the ancestral and famous Eke-Ukwu Owerri Market. But unlike the destruction of the State Library, the Mbari Cultural Centre, Shell Camp, and other landmarks he met when he became governor in 2011, the destruction of Eke-Ukwu Market came with the spilling of the blood of 
innocent citizens, including the blood of a 10-year-old boy, who was callously shot in the head. The destruction came with a lot of tears and sorrow for many traders whose wares worth millions of naira were destroyed in this hard time.

Pathetically, shortly after the destruction and killings, the governor through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo issued a statement in which he claimed that Owerri people were jubiliating over the relocation of the market when in actual fact they resisted the destruction of the market. The reaction of Owerri people is well captured by video recordings of what went on during the destruction, and is available on social media. See for example, Trouble at Eke-Ukwu Owerri: Rochas Okorocha Causes Bloodshed, Fire, and Destruction.   Inhumanely, the statement neither mentioned the dead nor did it offer condolences to the bereaved families.

Also, in the said press statement, Okorocha claimed that the reason he destroyed the market was to recover Douglas Road, which links the state to other states. But the truth is that there is a by-pass from Orlu Road junction, which he creditably constructed, that connects Douglas at the Emmanuel College end. So, the destruction of Eke-Ukwu Market is nothing but a punitive action taken against perceived enemies, in this case, the Owerri people. It has nothing to do with recovering Douglas Road for access to other states. And definitely, it has nothing to do with traders using it as a refuse dumping ground as also claimed in the statement since the government can cart away the refuse and tax the traders accordingly.

It’s wicked that Okorocha chose to carry out the destruction
10-year old boy gunned down at Eke-Ukwu
during the rainy season and at a time when his so-called market at Ohi that is erosion prone is far from being ready for business. And what he has done is lawless considering that there is a subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction restraining him from moving Eke-Ukwu Market to a new location. This is not the first time he is flouting a court order. He has done that several times, particularly since he joined the All Progressives Congress, APC. Under him, Imo State is being governed by impulse. He has no governance blue print for the state. And there is no due process in the running of the affairs of the state. Indeed, executive lawlessness has been the order of the day since he assumed power and became intoxicated with it.

Imo people are wondering why Okorocha is so obsessed with urban renewal of the old Owerri when there is new Owerri with vast and flat land. Is he imputing that he is wiser than the likes of Dee Sam Mbakwe, who sited and built Imo Concorde Hotel in the area? Why destroy the old city when you have a vast and flat land you could transform into a modern and model part of the capital, complete with state-of-the-art facilities, including a modern market? Does that really make sense? People assert that what Okorocha is doing is a manifestation of sadism and that his actions are largely borne out of vindictiveness. They point at the destruction of part of the house of Capt. Emma Iheanacho on Orlu Road as a vindication of this assertion. Capt. Iheanacho was a former Interior Minister, and one of Okorocha’s challengers in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Imo State. He ran under All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.

The destruction of a people’s ancestral market and the spilling of the blood of
Rochas Rejoices After the Killings
innocent citizens that came with it is a new low for Okorocha who has long personalised governance by appointing his wife and in-laws into key positions in the state, and pushing his in-law to a ministerial position at the national level. It’s a new low for someone, who has spent billions of naira in constructing roads, but with none of the roads lasting beyond six months. It’s a new low for someone who has spent billions building hospitals that have now been taken over by bush while he is still governing and claiming those as achievements. It’s a new low for someone owing civil servants and pensioners arrears of many months. It’s a new low for someone shamelessly, preparing his son-in-law without any pedigree whatsoever to succeed him in 2019 as though Imo is a serfdom.

The blood of those killed in Owerri last Saturday is in Okorocha’s hands, vicariously. This is the height of his anti-Igbo actions in his governance of the state. He must be held to account. If not now, certainly, when he is out of office. The Igbo are killed at little or no provocation in the North, and now, they're being killed in Igboland under the watch of those who claim to be Igbo. This is untenable and unacceptable. It has to be redressed, using national and international statutes.