Murder: Supreme Court Affirms Death Sentence On Imo Teacher

The Supreme Court sitting in Abuja has affirmed the death sentence on a primary school teacher in Imo State, Mrs. Chifoanu Virginia Okorie, over her involvement in the gruesome murder in 2005, of a community leader and retired police officer, Nze Dominic Ohamadiaku Duru in Izombe, Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State.

Delivering judgment in suit number: SC/640/2014, between Chifoanu Okorie and the State, John Inyang Okoro, leading other four justices of the Supreme Court, dismissed Mrs. Okorie’s appeal to have the decision of the Owerri Court of Appeal overturned. In aligning itself with the 17th July, 2014 decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri (which affirmed the earlier death sentence passed on Mrs. Okorie and seven others by an Owerri High Court), the nation’s apex court put the final judicial seal on the fate of the appellant by dismissing the appeal brought before it, describing it as devoid of any “scintilla of merit.”

In his background to the judgement, he explains:

“This is an appeal against the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division, delivered on 17th July, 2014 wherein the Court affirmed the conviction and sentence to death of the appellant by the High Court of Imo State, holden at Owerri for the offence of murder. The appellant was one of the nine accused persons charged with murder contrary to section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap 30 Vol. 11 Laws of Eastern Nigeria 1963 as applicable to Imo State of Nigeria…”

“At the hearing of this appeal on 21st September, 2017, the learned Senior counsel for the appellant D.C. Denwigwe SAN, leading others, identified, adopted and relied on their brief of argument filed on 10/2/15. The five issues formulated are contained on page 2 which state as follows: Was the Court of Appeal right in upholding the decision of the trial court to rely on the evidence of Dr. Gogo Abite, PW4 in arriving at the conclusion that the conviction of the appellant by the trial court was right and sustainable? Was the Court of Appeal right when it upheld the decision of the learned trial Judge which rejected the evidence of Dr. Egejuru (PW7) and refused to rely on the autopsy report issued by Dr. Egejuru, regarding the cause of death of the deceased? Was the Court of Appeal right when it came to the conclusion that medical evidence was not sine qua non for establishing the guilt of the appellant in the circumstance of this case? Whether sustaining the conviction of the appellant for the offence of murder, did not in the circumstance constitute a denial of the appellant’s constitutional right to fair hearing? Was the Court of Appeal right when it proceeded to sustain the conviction of the appellant by the trial court in the circumstance of this case?”

In the brief of the respondent, filed by A.N. Eluwa (Mrs), Solicitor General of Imo state, leading other counsel filed on 21st June, 2016, four issues were “distilled for the determination of this appeal” by the apex court.

“Whether the Court of Appeal was right in upholding the decision of the trial court in accepting the medical evidence of PW4 -Dr. Gogo Abite, while rejecting the medical evidence of DW7-Dr. Egejuru and Dr. Onoyona, regarding the cause of death of the deceased. Whether there were material contradictions in the evidence of prosecution that created doubts in the mind of the trial court capable of vitiating conviction. Whether the trial court considered the defense of alibi raised by the appellant and rightly held that same did not avail her, and whether the Court of Appeal was right in upholding same. Whether the prosecution, on the totality of direct, credible and admissible evidence adduced at the trial, proved the offence of murder against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt, warranting her conviction.”

After the legal fireworks that ensued, the apex court resolved the five grounds of appeal in favour of the respondent and found the appeal incompetent.

“Having resolved the five issues nominated by the learned silk for the determination of this appeal against the appellant, this appeal is adjudged devoid of any scintilla of merit. It is accordingly dismissed by me. The Judgement of the of the Court of Appeal which upheld the conviction and sentence of the appellant is further affirmed by this court. Appeal is hereby dismissed.”

Agreeing with the lead judgement, Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad said: “my learned brother John Inyang Okoro had obliged me the draft of his lead judgement just delivered. I agree with his lordship’s reasoning and conclusion that the appeal lacks merit and that it be dismissed…. I dismiss the appeal and I abide by the consequential orders made in the lead judgement.”

Also delivering his Judgement on the matter, another member of the panel, Justice Amiru Sanusi said: “His lordship Justice J.I. Okoro has graciously obliged me with a copy of the lead judgement…. Having perused same, I must say that His lordship has ably and painstakingly treated all the salient issues in contention…..before arriving at his conclusion that this appeal lacks merit and deserves to be dismissed. While adopting his reasoning and conclusion as mine, it is also my judgement that the appeal is meritless and I accordingly dismiss same without any hesitation. I affirm the judgement of the court below, which had also earlier on affirmed the decision of the trial High Court. Appeal is accordingly dismissed my me.”

Another member of the panel, Justice Kudirat M.O. Kekere-Ekun also joined other members of the panel in affirming the death sentence; while only one member of the five-man panel, Justice Ejembi Eko gave a dissenting (minority) judgement.

Meanwhile, seven other related cases are yet to be determined by the apex court.

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2019: Okorocha Names Son-In-Law As Successor

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has said his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, who also doubles as Chief of Staff, would be his successor in 2019.

The governor said this at a meeting with members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Owerri Municipal Council Area.

According to him, Nwosu possess the “the qualities of an ideal leader”.

He said: “The monumental achievements of my administration will not be left in the hand of any how person. The Chief of Staff has not told me he wants to run for the governorship but if he does signify, I will support him.

“Uche Nwosu is hardworking and never gets tired. He is a very humble young man; not proud; not arrogant. So, Power won’t enter his head. Despite the position he occupies, you can’t see him quarrelling or maltreating anybody. He does not segregate against anybody. I have checked him in and out and I have not found him wanting.”

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Gov. Okorocha: Of Tyranny And Discontent, By Chido Onumah

A very significant event—a peaceful mass protest against the misgovernance and mindless plunder of Imo State by Mr. Rochas Okorocha—took place in Owerri exactly a month ago, on Monday, December 18, 2017. It was organized by the Imo Peoples Action for Democracy (IPAD), a coalition of civil society and professional groups in Imo State.

It didn’t get much media traction, not because it didn’t deserve national media attention. Part of the problem is the character of the Nigerian media. The other explanation was the concerted effort by Mr. Okorocha and his goons, aided by the Nigeria Police, to suppress the protest.

By the morning of the protest, radio stations in Owerri were running bulletins, issued by the Nigeria Police, claiming that the protest had been called off because the police had declared it illegal. That declaration was, of course, not only patently false but illegal considering that the Nigerian constitution guarantees citizens freedom of thought and expression.

Not trusting their own propaganda, Mr. Okorocha and the police rolled out tanks, deployed various security outfits and laid siege to Owerri, searching vehicles coming into the city centre for protesters. Their machinations, and the massive security presence, notwithstanding, citizens of Imo State came out to show their displeasure with Mr. Okorocha’s harebrained polices. Expectedly, the police confronted the protesters, firing tear gas, attacking those who refused to disperse and confiscating banners and placards.

Interestingly, on the same day, Mr. Okorocha’s myrmidons, suborned by a vicious and clueless chief executive, gathered at the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), Owerri, with full security protection, singing and dancing, to show their “support” for a man desperate for acceptance and approval even with the national opprobrium his time as governor has drawn.

A day before, as I distributed leaflets about the protest at an anti-imperialist youth camp organized by Social Action in Owerri, one of the young people I met informed me that the Imo State government had made available two million naira (N2,000,000) for youth from all the local governments in the state to dissuade them from joining the protest.

The responsibility of “sharing” the largesse fell on Onwueyiagwu Valentine who was just two weeks old on the job as commissioner for youth development.  The young man in question told me, in an appealingly irreverent way, that when he and his mates were summoned by the obviously edgy commissioner, he had no inkling that he was going to convey Mr. Okorocha’s message that the youth should be paid to put the kibosh on the protest. He said his share of the money was three thousand naira (N3,000) and that he collected it to cover his transportation. He assured me he would participate in the protest. This is just an insight into how far a desperate Mr. Okorocha went to deny Imolites their right to protest his malfeasance.

The December 18, 2017, protest was significant for three reasons: one, it laid to rest the myth that the tyranny of Mr. Okorocha could not be challenged; two, it showed the incestuous, and profitable, relationship between Mr. Okorocha and the Nigeria Police Force in Imo State headed by Mr. Chris Ezike, the state police commissioner; three, it marked the beginning of what would be a long-drawn-out battle to reclaim Imo State and rescue it from the grips of a grotesque mediocrity, to use Karl Marx’s apt description of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. I shall return to this third point.

Anyone who has taken, even a cursory, interest in happenings in Nigeria, will be piqued by the actions of the menace called Rochas Anayo Okorocha, the governor of Imo State. Two years after he took office on May 29, 2011, he orchestrated the impeachment of his then deputy, Jude Agbaso, by the State House of Assembly, on allegation of corruption. Okorocha installed his sidekick and chief of staff, Eze Madumere, as deputy governor.

For Imolites who had gone through a string of ineffectual governors—including Okorocha’s predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim, himself a devious administrator—the emergence of Mr. Okorocha in 2011 was a testament to the beauty of democracy and the power of the people. Mr. Okorocha’s antecedents did not qualify him to run a local government much less a state. His “fame” derived from what Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, describes as being an “appendage of power.”

A semi-literate political freeloader who has toyed with the idea of running for president several times, Mr. Okorocha promoted himself as a “successful businessman and education philanthropist.” In April 2011, he “won” a highly controversial election marred by irregularities and became the fourteenth governor of Imo State since its creation in 1976.

Let it be clear, some of those who oppose Mr. Okorocha today supported him a few years ago. They thought, then, that considering his so-called rag to riches story, Mr. Okorocha could empathize with the harried citizens of the state. Imolites were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the heels of a succession of depraved governors. It didn’t take long before Mr. Okorocha proved that governorship of Imo State was beyond his pay grade.

In a recent interview with Tell magazine, Mr. Okorocha noted: “My ideas drive me crazy.” He wasn’t speaking figuratively. Going by his own insane admission, there is no other way to describe his stewardship other than pure madness. Mr. Okorocha has embarked on the most reckless anti-people programmes Imolites have witnessed. He has demolished markets, displacing poor market men and women without providing succour.

Civil servants are owed backlog of salaries and when they are paid, they are only given a percentage of their salary. Same for pensioners. He runs the finances of Imo State without recourse to the State House of Assembly. In an October 14, 2016, petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, a group, Concerned Citizens of Imo State noted, among other things, that Mr. Okorocha had destroyed the civil service in the state and rendered it ineffective.

According to the group, “The first thing he did after he took office was to publicly announce: ‘I do not believe in the use of files or in due process. Due process is due corruption; whenever I wake up, I move where my mind directs me.’ The governor makes appointments bypassing the state Civil Service Commission and with no regard for competence. Workers in the state civil service are the worst hit. Permanent secretaries, directors and professionals like doctors, engineers, architects and surveyors are mere spectators, even in areas where their specialty and experience are most needed. Their jobs have been taken over by Okorocha’s surrogates.”

Indeed, Mr. Okorocha’s mind has been directing him to all kinds of inanities. A few years ago, he woke up and his mind directed him to pull down the central library—an edifice older than Imo State and one which, as an undergraduate at the University of Calabar three decades ago, was a refuge for me and many in my generation and beyond—to construct what has turned out to be his personal cathedral.

Recently, not being able to pay civil servants, notwithstanding the billions of naira from the federal government to meet that obligation, Mr. Okorocha woke up one morning and his mind directed him to declare a three-day work week. He asked civil servants who were owed months of salary arrears to take up farming to make up for the unpaid wages. His latest idle fancy is erecting statues in Owerri.

And Mr. Okorocha’s statues don’t come cheap as he gleefully told Channels TV in an interview a few weeks ago. He recently commissioned one, amid national outrage, of the certified rogue president, Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

Back to the issue of reclaiming Imo State. Today, the state has become the Okorocha fiefdom. For Mr. Okorocha, democracy simply means government of the Okorochas by the Okorochas and for the Okorochas. Last month, he announced his younger sister, Ogechi Ololo (nee Okorocha)deputy chief of staff for internal and domestic affairs—as commissioner for “happiness and couples’ fulfillment,” and later, “purpose fulfilment.”

He has no compunction naming public buildings after his family members. His father-in-law, Prof Anthony Anwukah, a former secretary to the state government under Mr. Okorocha, and now the junior minister of education, is the minister representing Imo State in the Federal Executive Council.

A few days before the December 18 protest, Uche Nwosu, ex-personal assistant, lapdog, and son-in-law of Mr. Okorocha, and currently his chief of staff, launched what was clearly his 2019 governorship campaign, leaving no one in doubt that the son-in-law is being primed to replace the father-in-law; a grand tragedy set to be replaced by a rotten farce, to paraphrase Friedrich Engels. Regrettably, some members of the do-nothing Imo State House of Assembly have already endorsed this caricature.

There is so much a people can endure. It is comforting that the Imo Peoples Action for Democracy has declared 2018 a year of rage! Now that the heat is on, those who aspire to lead Imo State in 2019 must stand up and be counted.

Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. Follow him on Twitter @conumah

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2019: ‘Tinubu Looks Like Somebody Crying More Than The Bereaved,’ Says Okorocha

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has said that his endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term of four years in office doesn’t translate to evading party primaries.

Recall that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had stated that all candidates interested in the party’s ticket would go through the due process of party primaries. “No governor can appropriate the power of endorsement to himself. Buhari is a believer in due process,” he said.

However, Okorocha, in his response said the governors have the constitutional right to adopt any candidate for president without recourse to Tinubu.

The Imo Governor said this after he was conferred with honorary Doctor of Letter by the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA), at the weekend.

According to him, “The statement credited to our National Leader came to me as a surprise.

His words: “Come to think of it, I never referred to him. I refer to the governors of Nigeria, including the PDP and, I said only one or two of them have not joined yet. “Since I made the statement, no governor has said something contrary to what I said. I am surprised that Asiwaju will now be speaking for the governors. He looks like somebody crying more than the bereaved. I did not see any reason for the statement actually.

“But he commands my respect and I don’t want to join issue with the National Leader of my party. “What I mentioned was for the governors and secondly what I said is support. The word I used is support; that does not mean there will not be primaries. Governors can only contribute 37 votes; we still have over 5,000 votes up there. What I was talking about was for governors. I was not talking about other party members.”

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ICPC Arrests Judge Over Alleged N200m Bribe

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), has arrested a retired Appeal Court judge, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya, for allegedly demanding a N200m bribe in exchange for a favourable judgment in a National Assembly election case that was pending before the Imo State Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal.

The ICPC said the offence, which violates Section 10 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, was alleged to have been committed in 2015, when the retired Justice asked Orji, who was the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance for the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency, to give him N200m to enable him to influence the court’s decision in his favour.

Orji had approached the Court of Appeal, Imo State Division, to seek redress in a case involving an alleged inflation of the result of election in the Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, which he had earlier lost to his opponent, Mr. Nkole Ndukwe, at the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.

The retired judge was alleged to have assured the appellant of getting a favourable judgment from the court upon the payment of the money.

“Justice Tsamiya has since been granted bail by the commission upon the fulfilment of his bail conditions even as investigation continues,” the ICPC added.

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Imo State: Where There Is No Legislature, By Walter Duru,

In modern democratic societies, the legislature performs three conventional functions of representation, law-making and oversight responsibilities. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has provided the legislature in different sections, the powers to perform these functions at both the central and state levels.

The legislature controls through legislation, all economic, social and political activities of the state or country. It also scrutinizes the policies of the Executive and provides the framework of the judiciary to operate.

Contrary to the above norm, in Imo State, there are three arms of Government – the Executive, the Executive and the Executive. The executive has one name – Rochas Anayochukwu Ethelbert Okorocha, who rules the State (with his family) as a conquered people. The State Assembly is mere O yes rubber stamp. In Imo, it is the state versus her citizens, instead of the state for the citizens. I challenge whoever that thinks otherwise to prove me wrong, with verifiable facts and superior argument(s).

Anyone dreaming that recent developments at the State House of Assembly suggest they have woken up from slumber should wake up from that sleep and take some malaria pills. It is a huge joke and there is nothing like Imo State House of Assembly; instead, we have Okorocha House of clowns, in practical terms. What we have occupying the exulted positions of state lawmakers is a bunch of timid opportunists and puppets, who believe that their ascension to the state legislature is a special favour from the cad governor of the state, hence, they owe him worship.

How else do you describe a state Assembly that cannot boast of any meaningful people-oriented legislation since its inauguration? How else can one explain the fact that the only time people hear about Imo State House of Assembly is when there is a Budget or Supplementary Budget to ‘adopt;’ not pass, as this Assembly has never scrutinized any budget proposal submitted to it. The budgetary process is done in utmost secrecy and is mere ratification of the governor’s submission. Sometimes, the budget is signed and spending commences before the so-called annual budget proposal is submitted to the Assembly.

Majority of the members of the State Assembly do not know what goes on in the legislature. Most legislative decisions are taken in the Executive Chambers. Another time you hear of the Assembly is when there is a request for loan for the personal use of the ‘Emperor’ or when there is an obnoxious anti people bill, usually sponsored by the Executive, through one of the puppets? A typical instance is that of the anti-media bill, smuggled in through the Deputy Speaker, Ugonna Ozurigbo.

They are at the beck and call of the Governor and have never and will never investigate whatever the executive is doing. No questions are ever asked; by the way, who, in the State Assembly has the guts to contemplate questioning the Governor or any of his allies?

It is an indubitable fact that the Speaker of the State Assembly, Acho Ihim takes instructions from the executive and can do anything to please the Governor. Some other members of the State Assembly kneel before him and practically tremble at the mention of his (Okorocha’s) name. I refuse to include that ridiculous title of Honourable, because, they are about the most dis-honourable people I have ever seen in public offices.

I simply smiled when a Civil Society colleague in Owerri attempted preaching Open Budgeting to Imo Government. Without apologies to a few of the lawmakers that relate with me, I can bet with my life that majority of them do not even have copies of the annual budget of the state they claim to be passing. Has the Assembly ever interrogated any budget proposal by the Executive? The Imo State Annual Budget is a secret document that only the governor and his cronies have access to. How then can the citizens be involved in the business of governance? How can they track government spending and budget performance?

How many bills that can promote good governance, enhance accountability, improve the socio-economic well-being of the citizens and secure the livelihood and future of Imo people have the present State Assembly passed? If it is not abortion bill today, it is anti-media bill tomorrow; from one obnoxious move to another. How did we get to this point in Imo?

Not even the public outcry that followed the numerous atrocities of the Okorocha-led government has moved them to act. Not even the blood of Soromtochukwu spilled during the illegal demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri. They are so dumb that they could not even pretend to be investigating any of the allegations against this ultra-corrupt government in the state.

From the complete absence of due process and rule of law, to the waste of scarce resources on trivialities; from non-payment of workers’ salaries, gratuities and pension of retirees, to issuance of dud cheques to pensioners; from failure to account for Bailout funds, Paris refunds and even the over one trillion Naira that has entered the state in the last seventy months to the use of state resources in conducting personal businesses.

What about the flagrant disobedience to Court orders and illegal demolition of private and public buildings? Land grabbing is a major characteristic of the present administration. How can a government seize landed property, using governmental powers and convert them to private use?

Nearly seven years into the present administration in the state, no local government election has been held. Where are the hundreds of billions accruing to the twenty-seven local government areas of the state? Is it the billions said to have been spent on statues? Now, Imo has Ministry of Happiness, with the Governor’s younger sister as Commissioner. Indeed, Imo has been rescued.

What about the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission- ISOPADEC, which funds should be statutory? At some point, Okorocha claimed to be saving the ISOPADEC billions for the construction of a Maritime University in Osemotor in Oguta Local Government Area of the State. Where is the Maritime University, nearly seven years after and where is the money?

The present administration in Imo is synonymous with corruption and is obviously irredeemable. But, where are the other two arms of government? The State Judiciary has become a toothless bulldog and cannot bite. Judicial pronouncements are disregarded with impunity and till date, nobody is in Prison for contempt.

Members of the Legislature that should have been the hope of the people to check the excesses of this ultra-corrupt government in Imo go cap in hand begging for contracts and favour from the executive. At some point, the governor engaged them with executive functions in Local Government areas.

Of all the atrocities of the present administration, the public outcry, media reports and petitions from citizens, which one has the present state Assembly investigated? Which member of the governor’s cabinet has either been summoned or questioned by the Legislature? Which decision of the Governor, no matter how ridiculous and unpopular, has the present Assembly questioned?

How can you have a docile and complicit State Assembly and still expect to have a responsible executive? The fact is that the State Assembly is responsible and should be held responsible for the misdeeds of the present executive.

Recent developments in the State Assembly may have been fueled by the fact that the governor is sitting on their constituency allowance and may have reneged on earlier promises. Following the initial protest of Budget boycott, funds are said to have been released to the leadership of the house and their cronies, who are mere messengers of the executive to rise against their colleagues; yes, divide and rule. Some of the resignation letters flying around may have been written and assented, prior to their emergence as principal officers. No one should be deceived. These guys cannot be trusted.

Ultimately, the surest way forward is for Imo citizens to take their destiny in their hands. Little wonder the mood of the last meeting of Nigerian Human Rights community in Owerri was for a declaration of a State of emergency in the State.

The only way for the State Assembly to redeem its image is to initiate immediate impeachment proceedings against the governor. For the lawmakers already marked for suspension, the die is cast. Can they, for once, get emboldened and stand on the side of the people?

The sorry state of Imo State today should be a lesson for all. 2019 is around the corner. Ndi Imo should not only be interested in who emerges the governor of the state, but those that are going to the State Assembly.

In addition to the business of lawmaking, one of the functions of the Legislature in every democracy is to serve as a check on the activities of the executive. In todays Imo, where are the laws made by the present administration and what checks have they provided? What oversight functions have they performed? Whom do they represent, other than their pockets and pay master? They are playing along so they can return to the Assembly in 2019; what a shame. Governor Okorocha runs Imo like an extension of his private business empire and members of the legislature sit as spectators?

There is no gainsaying the fact that indeed, there is no ‘capacity’ in the State Assembly and its leadership deserves no place in history.

Building a vibrant legislature is one sure way of deepening democracy, checking tyranny, promoting good governance, ensuring checks and balances and indeed, safeguarding the future of the people. From 2019, Ndi Imo must ensure that these ‘traders’ do not return to the state Assembly for any reason and through any means. Write down all their names and blacklist them, as they are undeserving of any position of responsibility.

The step being taken by Imo People’s Action for Democracy to ‘Occupy’ the State during the Christmas celebration is commendable and should have the sign in of all well-meaning Imolites. All stakeholders must join hands in sending a strong warning to this Nebuchadnezzar in Imo. The surest way forward is for the citizens of the state to take their destiny in their hands.

As for the present Imo State House of Assembly, the members should bury their faces shame.

The time to reclaim the people’s state is now. Do not be left out!

Dr. Walter Duru is a Communication expert and Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC. Reach him on: walterchike@gmail.com

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Lawmakers Boycott Okorocha’s Budget Presentation

Imo State House of Assembly has postponed the 2018 budget presentation of the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha after what appears to be a disregard for the state’s House of Assembly.

It was gathered that the Governor, rather than inform the legislators of the budget presentation, choose to make the announcement on radio and television stations.

However, in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, said cancellation of the budget presentation was as a result large discrepancies discovered in the budget speech and, as a result, the 2018 budget presentation could not hold.

“With utmost regret, we wish to inform the public that the announced presentation of the 2018 budget to the Imo State House of Assembly by the Governor, Rochas Okorocha, fixed for Tuesday, November 28, 2017  could no longer hold, owing largely to disturbing discrepancies discovered in the budget speech.

“A new date for the budget presentation will, as usual, be made public. We regret this development.  And, we appeal to all those concerned with the exercise to bear with us.”

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2019: ‘No Better President For Nigeria Than Buhari,’ Says Okorocha

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has expressed support for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha described President Buhari as a man that possess the strength of character to lead Nigeria at this moment of history.

His words: “I am a believer in Buhari and I made it clear years ago that if he is running for president I will not run.  

“There is no better president for Nigeria now other than President Buhari.  He might not be the best president for Nigeria in 2023 or 2027, but for the Nigeria of today, he is the right man for the job.  His fight against corruption takes an unusual character to execute.  His style to end terrorism in the North East is again something that requires his personal character.

“Nigeria has come out of recession in the shortest period recorded in history and this is a testament to Buhari’s tenacity.  And since I have resolved with my political family to shelve my ambition and support Buhari, I want to appeal to others to show such support to him.”

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Okorocha Set To Unveil Obasanjo, Ekwueme, Awolowo’s Statues, Seven Others

After unveiling the statues of two African presidents, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha is set to unveil 10 more statues The Punch reports.

The statues are that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo; a former Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme; a former Senate President, late Evans Enwerem; and the first civilian Imo State Governor, Sam Mbakwe.

According to the source, others whose statues would soon be unveiled are those of the first Nigerian President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; former Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa; late sage, Obafemi Awolowo; and Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo.

The source said that of Akufo-Addo would be unveiled at a ceremony when he visits the state soon.

The government official said the idea of unveiling the statues was to celebrate leaders, who had through “selfless efforts” contributed to the development of the state, Nigeria and the African continent.

The source said, “The governor is interested in celebrating those who have contributed to the development of mankind, especially on the African continent. In the years to come, these leaders will be no more but their statues will keep them evergreen in the minds of the people.

“With the statues, they have been inducted into the Imo Hall of Fame and have received the highest award in the state called the Imo Merits Award.”

When asked how much each statue cost the state government, the official said they were not as expensive as people were exaggerating.

“It is not as costly as people had exaggerated. Though I don’t know the exact amount, the government cannot use about N500m to erect one statue. It is not possible. The governor is a prudent manager of resources,” he said.

The Punch

 

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Unknown Gunmen Kill Corps Member In Imo State

A serving corps member, Ekene Uwaoma, was on Monday, cut down at his prime at Ama-wire Junction by yet to be identified gunmen in Owerri, Imo State capital.

Uwaoma was said to have come to the state to see his mother, Mrs. Mary Uwaoma, when he was murdered,the Punch reports.

Uwaoma, 23, was a 2016 graduate of History and International Studies from the Imo State University, Owerri, and was undertaking his one year National Youths Service Corps programme in Ogun State.

His friend, MacDonald, told our correspondent on the telephone on Tuesday that he was with the deceased when the gunmen waylaid them and demanded their mobile phones.

MacDonald said, “We were returning home from where we went to buy food. Suddenly, four boys bearing arms stopped and asked us to surrender our phones. I quickly gave them mine, but Ekene (Uwaoma) refused to surrender his phone.

“They started struggling and I ran away. They shot him on the chest and ran away. They also shot into the air to scare people away.”

MacDonald disclosed that the corps member was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, where doctors confirmed him dead.

“The gunmen didn’t go with his phone. It was a pity. This was the first time somebody was killed in my presence. I am heartbroken. His picture keeps appearing in my mind. I can’t bear it,” he added.

Punch

 

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President Buhari Congratulates Okorocha At 55

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo on his 55th birthday.

The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said Buhari’s congratulatory message was contained in a letter he personally signed, earlier in the week.

‘‘On this special occasion, I wish to commend Gov. Okorocha’s leadership and commitment to the people of Imo State and the entire Nation.

‘‘His philanthropy has touched many lives in states across the country, from the south to the north.

‘‘I also wish to express my deep appreciation to him for his support and commitment to the success of this administration.

‘‘Owelle Rochas Okorocha had the vision to look beyond ethnic bias and align his political interest and that of his people with that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), even when many in his region did not have such foresight.

‘‘Happy birthday, Owelle Rochas Okorocha!’’ the letter read.

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Okorocha Bars Vanguard, THISDAY From Covering Govt Activities

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has allegedly banned the Correspondents of THISDAY and Vanguard Newspapers, Amby Uneze and Chidi Nkwopara, from covering government house activities.

According to a report in Thisday newspaper, the governor did not give any reason for his action other than that the said correspondents do not like him.

He was also alleged to have declared the correspondents as enemies of government for not writing favourable reports to suit his bidding.

 

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