Monday, 22 August 2016

Who Will Save Imo State Citizens From Governor Rochas Okorocha’s Pestilence?

In the last seven months, public servants in Imo State have not earned their salaries.

Imo State University was closed down as a result of protracted strike, until some weeks ago when JAMB indicated that no fresh students will be admitted to the institution since the school cannot have two sets of first-year students at the same time.

                                                                            



This development, coupled with the fact that the final year law students cannot go to law school without completing their studies, forced the authorities of Imo State University (IMSU) to resume classes in the interest of the students and their parents.

What is going on in the school now is a crash program. The health institutions in the state have been ‘concessioned’ to friends and cronies of the Imo State Governor who operate same and make returns to him.

The Imo Transport Company Limited, Ada palm Nigeria Limited and Imo Concord Hotels which used to be the major revenue earners to the State, have all been ‘concessioned’ to friends and cronies of the Governor who are now running same and making returns to His Excellency.

Because the workers at Imo State Board of Internal Revenues disclosed to their Union the volume of enhanced Internally Generated Revenue being earned by the State outside the monthly statutory allocation from FAC, the Board of Internal revenue was disbanded with all the workers sent away unceremoniously and without pay for several months now.

In their place, the Governor brought in his proxies who parade themselves as consultants who now collect and assess revenue for the Governor and not the Government on conditions best known to the Governor alone.

For more than six months, the directors heading the eight (8) Departments or Divisions of Imo State Ministry of Justice were sent home in writing for alleged incompetence. When the new Commissioner for Justice M. O. Nlemedim Esq. was sworn in, only the permanent secretary Mrs. Alma Eluwa was in the Ministry to receive him.

After a passionate plea by the New Commissioner for Justice, the Directors were recalled by telephone calls to resume duty and till date no letter recalling them to duty had been given to them neither had they been paid.

In the last seven months, the Imo State branch of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had been on indefinite strike over nonpayment of their salaries since January 2016.

A bid by the national body to settle the differences in June hit the rocks because His Excellency refused to endorse the term of settlement formulated by his Attorney General to wit: that the workers should be paid their three (3) month’s salary to enable them resume work while the outstanding shall be paid subsequently.

The Governor insists that he will not pay any public servant more than seventy percent (70%) of his salary, not withstanding that the terms of contract of employment between the government and those staff including their salary data were stipulated in writing by their various letters of employment and promotion.

As a result of this, the judiciary being an arm of government had been closed down by the Governor for these months with thousands of private legal practitioners who have families and employees to pay rendered jobless and kobo less as no lawyer had earned any money during these periods.

Every one of the lawyers you meet anywhere is complaining because they have families and children in school which entails continuous spending.

The Police Stations are bubbling with suspects who ought to have been charged to court but are being detained beyond the constitutional provision now that there is no court to which they can be arraigned.

The prisoners who are awaiting trial have had their cases stalled and are all crying to high heaven for justice.

When the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) recently blew the whistle that His Excellency the Governor diverted the Bail-out funds released by the Federal Government to enable him pay staff salaries, the Governor knew that it is the modus operandum of monumental fraud where governance had been turned into profiteering business outfits by the Chief Executive of Imo State; the Governor began to demolish all the structures built in all the streets in Owerri in the name of expansion of roads all with the view to retiring the looted funds as if same had gone into project execution. At a time the nation is facing serious economic challenges and when no project is going on anywhere in Imo State, the Governor decided to go on massive demolition of structures belonging to his perceived enemies.

Magnificent buildings and structures owned by known political opponents in Imo State including the APGA Governorship candidate have been demolished and rendered uninhabitable, thereby making the citizen equivalent to what is now known as ‘internally displaced persons’.

Because the courts are not working, no one is in a position to challenge the excesses of His Excellency in the State High Courts. Even the few that went to court like Captain Iheanacho and were able to obtain restraining orders had those orders grossly disobeyed and treated with disdain and contempt even though they have been served on the Governor.

In the last two months, this demolition had been going on in all the roads and cities, even those already dualised, as if the Government is in a position to expand and reconstruct all the roads at the same time. No contractor had been identified with any of the roads, even as it is known that the Imo State Governor uses his friends and cronies, fictitious and unregistered companies to carry out his projects in order to defraud the people of Imo State.

It is public knowledge that in Imo State, contracts are awarded orally and not in writing.

With the people of Imo State languishing in anguish and poverty, the Imo State Governor decided to relocate the Owerri main Market being a traditional market known as Ekeukwu Owerri, from the Owerri Municipal Council where it is located to Egbeada in Ubomiri, Mbaitoli Local Government Area.

Meanwhile, the stalls and structures in the market were built by private estate developers whom the old Owerri Local Government Area and latter Owerri Municipal Council contracted to build and operate the market for a period of ninety-nine years (99) in order to recoup their investments in constructing the stalls.

Those businessmen who invested their funds in the building of the market stalls are now in danger of losing their life investments.

Not even a protest by over one thousand (1,000) Owerri women, dressed in black or letters of appeal by the traders in the Owerri main Market would appease or assuage the governor or make him change his mind.

He vowed to demolish the market with effect from 1st August 2016 and that no power on earth can stop him from doing so.

About 2013, the governor came up with the idea after building his mini Government House on a land he fraudulently and forcefully acquired from indigenes of Orji and Mbieri at a place called Spibart Road. The Governor who sees himself as the owner of all the lands in Imo State by the virtue of the Land Use Act, sought to remove the mechanics from their Orji and Nekede mechanic villages.

The mechanics protested, informing the Governor that the two mechanic villages were so captured and designated in the Owerri Development master plan by Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA). They further informed him that they have expended huge sums of money, building up and developing their mechanic shades, installing some High Technological Machines, some of which were burrowed underground and which could get damaged should they be removed.

The mechanics further complained that they obtained approval from the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) to build their shades and even residential houses where a good number of them and their families reside.

They finally told the Governor that they hold valid statutory Certificates of Occupancy duly issued to them by the Government of Imo State which had not been revoked.

They pleaded with the Governor to consider the harsh conditions of the country’s economy and allow them to stay in their workshops and especially as the alleged proposed site for their relocation in Avu had not been developed and till date there are neither roads, water, light nor any other form of infrastructure being put in place for them to becoming an alternative of their mechanic villages.

The Governor ignored all these essentially as his desire was to acquire the lands whereby the Orji Mechanic Village situate for expansion of his kingdom  on earth being his residential house at Spibart Road, which is close to the Mechanic Village.

While the Governor would not want to see the mechanics around the street of his residence, the same street where he has his private residence (a.k.a. Government House Number 2), he allows his herds of cattle numbering more than three hundred (300) managed for him by Fulani cattle herdsmen to loiter and graze over within the same vicinity to the knowledge of the public including the mechanics.

Indeed when he hosted the last meeting of principal officers and members of the State Houses of Assembly of the South-South and South-East, he hosted them in his said cattle ranch.

On or about 14th of July 2016, the Governor after the attempt to persuade the mechanics at Orji Mechanic Village as to vacate so as to enable him expand his kingdom failed, he went to have a general meeting with all the mechanics, numbering about five thousand (5000) in attendance. As expected, the meeting became very rowdy with the young mechanics shouting out their opposition to being relocated.

Information in the public domain and from the accounts of some of the mechanics who were eye witnesses had it that the Governor was so enraged that he physically assaulted one of the mechanics who appeared stubborn to him.

The much younger mechanic in question eventually in other to extricate himself from the grip of the Governor pushed His Excellency down.

In a fury, His Excellency snatched a gun from one of his security aides who was present at the meeting and attempted to shoot at the mechanic in question.

Luckily, his said aid from whom he snatched the gun, rushed at him and held the gun, pointing same up to the sky, with the result that His Excellency ended up at shooting into the air.

At this juncture, the mechanics scampered for safety with everybody running for his dear life.

Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha seized the opportunity to invite the demolition team made up of four (4) excavators and three (3) caterpillars and they came to Orji Mechanic Village and demolished same completely without leaving any structure standing.

None of the mechanics was able to remove a pin from his workshop; hence they lost their means of livelihood and investments in a twinkle of an eye. Till date, the Governor has barricaded the entire area with lorry loads of mobile policemen and members of the Nigerian army from the 34 Base Artillery Brigade Obinze.

About twenty (20) mechanics were arrested on the spot and have continued to be detained by the Imo State Police Command on the orders of the Governor, without any offence committed.

A good number of the vocal leaders, who had expressed their opposition to the Governor in a bid to relocate them during that meeting, have been forced into hiding.

These mechanics and other persons whose structures, shops, business establishments etc had been destroyed by the Governor without compensation and without the likelihood of anyone being compensated forever are now crying to High Heavens for justice.

They are crying to the Federal Government especially the president of Federal Republic of Nigeria to call Governor Okorocha to order.

In practical terms, they have now joined the ranks of internally displaced persons and they are crying for help.

The people of Imo State who were promised Job, Job, Job, Industry, Industry, Industry, and Factory, Factory, Factory, during the campaign are now wondering as to what hit them, with some wondering what offence the people had committed that God should allow such pestilence to be visited on them.

It is for the public to judge “whether the Governor who engages a mechanic in physical fight is mentally fit to continue in the office”.