.Alleged hate Speech: Police arrest cleric for preaching against Governor
KELECHI UZOMAH, Owerri
There was tension on Tuesday around the Imo State House of Assembly as lawmakers commenced the impeachment process of the state’s Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere.
The impeachment of the deputy governor was allegedly being instigated by the State Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha.At the heart of the political high wire in Imo State is the succession plan of Governor Okorocha to install his son in-law who doubles as his Chief of Staff (COS), Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, as the next governor of the state.
Governor Okorocha and Uche Nwosu are from the same Orlu Senatorial zone.Chief Achike Udenwa, who ruled Imo between 1999 and 2007, is also from Orlu zone.The political gladiators in Imo have been polarised following the outcome of the ward, local government and state congresses of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state which saw Governor Okorocha indulging in battle of his life.The deputy governor was said to have teamed up with a coalition of some notable politicians in Imo State to challenge Okorocha’s alleged plans to obtain a third term as governor, courtesy of the adoption of his son in-law as successor.
Eze Madumere, who is the arrowhead of the forces against the adoption of Uche Nwosu as successor, has since packed out of the Government House as he now operates from a hotel in Owerri, the state capital.Four members of the Stat House of Assembly who are in the deputy governor’s camp have since been suspended by the House.But the battle for the next occupant of Douglas House Owerri took a different on Tuesday when the Deputy Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ugonna Ozuruigbo, moved a motion for the impeachment of the deputy governor Madumere.
The allegations agaist the deputy governor, according tp the Assembly, are: Absence without official reason or permission duly obtained from office for a period of three (3) months; Failure to perform any of the constitutional function of Office of Deputy Governor of Imo State including but not limited to: Failure/refusal to attend constitutionally mandated proceedings of the State Executive Council; and failure/refusal to attend constitutional mandated proceedings of the State Security Council; Refusal to attend, and to hold meetings with the Governor and Commissioners of the Government of Imo State for the governance of Imo State made compulsory by and under S.193 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and Concealment of felonious conduct affecting the presentation of self as eligible candidate of Office of Deputy Governor, Imo State, having been convicted and imprisoned for theft in the United States of America.
The plenary was tension-soaked as armed security men took over the premises of the Assembly complex.But reacting to these, the Deputy Governor through his Special Assistant/CPS, Uche Onwuchekwa, denied all these allegations.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Deputy Governor, among other things, stated: “The most embarrassing among the spurious allegations is the annoying allegation of concealment of felonious conduct affecting the presentation of self as eligible candidate of office of Deputy Governor of Imo State.
“This is not only astonishing but an extreme show of lack of due diligence. The Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, has never been convicted of any civil matter let alone theft”.In another political development, the Imo State Police Command paraded Reverend Chukwuma Okezie of the Assemblies of God Church (AG) Amakohia, for preaching what they described as hate speech during his sermons against Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
Police said the clergyman’s sermon “is capable of inciting the people”.Imo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Andrew Enwerem, confirmed to newsmen that the Command arrested Rev. Okezie for preaching a message capable of inciting the people against Governor Rochas Okorocha last Sunday at another branch of Assemblies of God Church at Owaelu, Owala in Uratta, Owerri North Local Government Area of the state.
Enwerem, a superintendent of police (SP), said: “He went to another branch and via the pulpit; he was inciting the people that Governor Okorocha was initiating young boys to abduct new born babies of one to 10 days old for ritual purposes for the 2019 elections, which he claimed a young man told him.”“The police will not tolerate such comments under the guise of preaching, which is capable of causing panic, acrimony, and is hate speech. He will be charged to court to defend himself”.
Speaking to newsmen, Revd Okezie said he was invited to minister at the Owaelu Owala branch and before ministering, he charged the church members to pray against untimely deaths and against every demonic plans, saying the people complied. “I didn’t incite the congregation against Governor Okorocha, apart from the prayer points I raised”, he said, stating that he did not mention any Governor or government throughout his sermon.
“Some days before that day, an elder in Church brought a young boy to me for prayers. The boy told me that he wanted to confess before he died even as I reprimanded him that he will not die”, the clergyman said.
The cleric, who hails from Okwu Ogbaku in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of the state, also said: “The boy asked me to pray for him. He said one Governor’s aide told him that he will give him and others orientation on how to get newborn babies that are between one to 10 days old for him for ritual purposes for the 2019 elections”.The clergyman further said he prayed for the boy and discharged him hurriedly so that he could continue teaching his class on water baptism, which he was doing before the boy came to him.
The Assemblies of God Reverend said he did not take the details of the boy nor any further directives.The Imo PPRO said Reverend Okezie would be charged to court for making what he described as “deliberate inflammatory speech capable of inciting the church against Governor Okorocha”.
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