Many hospitalised as hoodlums attack protesting widows in Owerri
WHEN hundreds of women under the aegis of Association of Widows on Tuesday gathered at the Okigwe Road Roundabout, their mission was to protest alleged maligning by agents of the Imo State Government, of a widow like themselves, who happened to be the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Mrs. Viola Onwuliri.
Sadly, many of them were brutalized and injured, no thanks to hoodlums, who allegedly sponsored by officials of the government, attacked the peaceful protesters, flogging, kicking, beating the helpless women, some in their 70’s.
Five of them were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) for attention.
The women were said to have gathered to appeal to the Imo State government under the watch of Governor Rochas Okorocha to allow Prof. Viola Onwuliri a breathing space in the face of campaigns of calumny, intimidation and outright lies among which “is the claim that she killed her husband, the late Prof. Celestine Onyemobi Onwuliri, who with 152 others, died in the ill- fated Dana Airline crash of June 3, 2012. ”
“Leave our benefactor, Prof. Viola Onwuliry, alone. She was not responsible for the death of her husband,” some placards read.
The leader of the women, Mrs. Josephine Ibewike, regretted that they were on a peaceful procession before they met the ugly treatment, allegedly sponsored by two serving commissioners in the state.
An injured widow, Mrs. Margaret Kwusi from Oguta Local Council, said: “As we were praying at the venue for peace to continue to reign in the state and the nation in general, the hoodlums arrived, flogging us mercilessly with canes, which resulted in bodily injuries among many of our members.”
We embarked on the peaceful protest to inform the state government that Prof. Viola is a good woman that cannot harm a fly, talk less of killing her husband. She has been assisting us through the instrumentality of her office. I have been a widow for 15 years and I know how painful it is to live without the bread-winner.
“Accusing a woman who the world knows her husband died in a plane crash of being responsible for her husband’s death is unimaginable,” she said.
A Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), cameraman, Etuk Eric, was beaten mercilessly by the hoodlums while his camera was seized. He was later taken to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, for treatment.
But the Senior Special Assistant to Okorocha on Media, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, in reaction said, the widows were allegedly sponsored from neighbouring Abia State, to cause disaffection in the state, which had remained peaceful.
He said neither the governor nor officials of the state government had a hand in the travails of the widows.