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Okorocha arrested to deny South East presidency in 2023, group alleges

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[FILES] Rochas Okorocha

Urges Buhari, Buni to intervene

Pro-democracy groups yesterday held a peaceful protest in Abuja against the arrest of the former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.

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Okorocha, who governed Imo for eight years, represents Imo West (Orlu) in the senate. He was arrested yesterday and detained by the police for alleged “violent entry” into sealed government property.

The protesters described the senator’s arrest as a witch-hunt by Governor Hope Uzodimma.

Some of the inscriptions on the protesters’ placards read: “United we stand, divided we fall”, “Government Uzodimma stop the witch-hunt, APC means peace, restore peace in Imo APC”, “Rochas we believe, leaders must be respected”, “Rochas is a leader, stop the use of thugs”, “Nigerian students condemn the attacks on the person of Rochas.”

The protesters, who brandished various placards to register their anger over the development, claimed that Okorocha’s arrest, allegedly at the instance of Uzodimma, was part of the grand design to deny the South East geo-political zone the exalted seat of the presidency in 2023.

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Hamza Rahama, who spoke on behalf of the protesting youths, argued that Okorocha’s arrest by armed policemen constitutes a threat to democratic rule in the country.

“Okorocha is one good material, if not the best, we have for 2023 after President Muhammadu Buhari. All this harassment and intimidation is because of the next election of which they believe, should he vie for the Presidency then, he remains a threat to them.

“Nigerians, especially the common man, will resist all sorts of intimidation to truncate Okorocha’s presidential ambition because of their strong belief in his capacity to change their fortunes beyond the lines of tribe and religion.”

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Mohammed Ibrahim, who spoke on behalf of the Arewa Youth Consultative Council (AYCC), condemned the role played by security operatives in the harassment and arrest of Okorocha.

He said: “We must publicly condemn the worrisome reports of how men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) attached to Imo State Government House watched as thugs attacked the senator, prior to his arrest.

“This is an indication that the Imo government is having a hidden agenda on this issue, which must be condemned with the strictest sense. We cannot fold our arms and watch our security operatives being used to achieve political aims.”

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Ilefa Peter, who spoke on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Good Governance Forum, called on Buhari and the Chairman of APC Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni, to wade into the face-off between Okorocha and Uzodimma in the interest of the party in Imo.

The group maintained that the party could not be coerced into deviating from the zoning of the 2023 presidency to the South East.

“Okorocha has paid his dues in our great party. He stood as a lone voice in the South East and gave the zone a formidable face. He was the voice of the APC in the South-East while the present governor was in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fighting him for bringing APC to South East. He rose and became chairman of Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) and served the forum diligently as a true party man,” he stated.

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