Lagos- The Patrons Association of Imo Oil Producing Communities (PIOPC), Monday urged the Inspector General of Police, IGP Abubakar Adamu to intervene in the arrest and detention of Hon. Heclus Okoro, APC lawmaker representing (Ohaji/Egbema state constituency) to avert breakdown of law and order in the state.
Okoro was elected on the platform of Action Alliance (AA) before joining the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the house.
The group also issued a 48 hours ultimatum for the lawmaker to be released or they might seek alternative meansof fighting for his release.
Chairman of the Patrons association, Chief David Mbachu,who made the call in a statement in Lagos,said that oil producing communities in the state would use all legal means within their powers if their son, Okoro, whom he said was being victimised, following the crisis in Imo assembly and the impeachment of the Speaker was not immediately released.
The Imo state assembly on Friday, impeached its Speaker, Dr Chiji Collins (APC-Isiala Mbano Constituency) with Mr Paul Emeziem (APC – Onuimo constituency) emerging as new speaker.
In a statement on Saturday, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Imo on New and Electronic Media, Mrs Nneamaka Okafor, confirmed the arrest, saying the incarcerated lawmaker was arrested by the Police for fighting in the government house, within government house premises and is in police custody but not detained by the governor.
She alleged that Okoro came to the government house to fight when his colleagues came to present the new Speaker to Gov. Hope Uzodinma.
The PIOPC chairman said the allegation against the lawmaker going to the government house to fight his colleagues was false.
He added the the impeached speaker was invited to the government house by his colleagues and upon arrival, was descended on and beaten up by supporters of the new house leadership including the Deputy Speaker, Chyna Iwuanyanwu.
“How is it possible for a lawmaker to go to the governor’s office with intention to fight? If he actually fought with the deputy speaker, why was he the only one arrested. Did he fight himself?”
“Okoro was not even in the assembly complex or venue of the impeachment when the impeachment took place but had to go to the government house to meet the governor on invitation by one of the aides.”
“On reaching there, He met the new Speaker and the Deputy speaker, Iwuanyanwu who descended on him, leading to a fight in his bid to defend himself.”
“Okoro was arrested and detained in Government House, allegedly, on the orders of the Governor, Hope Uzodimma while his attackers were not arrested,” he explained.
He said that youths of communities represented by Okoro are very angry with the development, whom they alleged had always been victimised because he was originally elected on the platform of the AA.
“As elders and patrons, we have tried to sue for peace and follow due processes to ensure intervention by the IGP on what is an injustice to Okoro just because he supports the impeached speaker.
“Why was Iwuanyanwu not arrested in an alleged fight at the government house and only one person was picked, handcuffed and humiliated like a criminal.”
“If he fought and was arrested, why was he denied bail but incarcerated as a criminal. We cannot sit and watch our son being unjustly treated and humiliated hence the call for intervention.”
“Our decision to follow Law and order is to avert crisis in the state but if nothing is done to free our son in the next 48 hours, we may have to take the issue legally in our hands,” he said.
He described Okoro as a Godfearing, kind hearted and honest lawmaker that had done great for his people and whom they would not allow to be unjustly maltreated because of his support of the former speaker.
“The IGP should call the Imo Commissioner of Police to order and not justify allegations of police brutality that had led to protests nationwide not long ago,” he added.
The IMO state assembly is made up of 20 APC members and seven Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members.
Collins was elected speaker in June 2019 after he decamped from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to the PDP during the ousted Emeka Ihedioha administration.
When Governor Uzodimma took over in January, this year, the impeached speaker, with others, joined Uzodimma’s APC.
The assembly members led by the Deputy Speaker, Chyna Iwuanyanwu, in a short session at the Ojukwu Centre temporary venue, which was heavily guarded by security agents, sealed the fate of the former speaker.
The lawmakers accused the impeached speaker of gross incompetence, parliamentary ineptitude, financial impropriety, and high-handedness.
Members who signed the motion included Iwuanyanwu, who also presided over the impeachment; Amarachi Iwuanyanwu (Nwangele, APC); Nnodumele Arthur Egwim (Ideato North, APC); Emeka Nduka (Ehime Mbano, APC); Kanayo Oultimatumx (Owerri West); Michael Njoku (Ihitte Uboma, APC); Uju Onwudiwe (Njaba, APC) and Ngozi Obiefule (Isu APC).
Others were Paul Emeziem (Onuimo, APC); Johnson Duru (Ideato South, APC); Chigozie Nwaneri (Oru East, APC); Majority Leader, Uche Ogbuagu (Ikeduru, APC); Kennedy Ibeh (Obowo, APC); Tochi Okereke (Ngor Okpala, APC); Okey Onyekamma (Mbaitoli, PDP); Frank Ugboma (Oguta, PDP); Solomon Anukam (Owerri Municipal, PDP); Chidiebere Ogbunikpa (Okigwe, APC) and Anyadike Nwosu (Ezinihitte, PDP).