Former Imo State Commissioner for Lands, Chief of Staff, Government House, and son-in-law to former governor Rochas Okorocha, Uche Nwosu was a 2019 frontline governorship candidate of the Action Alliance. In this interview with Amby Uneze, he reveals his recent ordeal in the hands of his abductors, during a church service after the burial of his mother. Excerpts:
Let’s commiserate with you on the demise of your dear mother. Having concluded with the burial activities, how did it go?
The burial of my mother did not go well as we planned it because the burial rites had not been concluded when I was abducted right inside the Church. Of course, we were still on the burial rites when the Imo state government sent her security operatives to abduct me while I was inside the Church for her outing service. So the burial rites were still on when they came and it is a forbidden and sacrilegious thing in Igboland. Indeed it is a sacrilege to come inside the Church while the officiating priests were still on the pulpit officiating a burial ceremony to abduct someone under gunpoint. For me as far as that memory is still there and to everybody that came; the burial rites were not concluded. But I will find time to still go back to Church to do what we were forced to stop half way.
What do you think that must have led to the abduction saga?
For me it is uncalled for. It is a desecration of the Altar of God. It is something that you and I could rarely think of, just as if it was a movie being acted. This is what every well meaning Christian or Moslem would condemn. What happened was an act that was totally condemnable by any religion. If this group of people could enter a sanctuary where people worship God, one can imagine what they have been doing outside the Altar of God. It is not about me or about my family or about coming to Church to abduct me but it is about destroying what we cherish, that is, the Church of Christ, about what we adore, that is, God Almighty and where we go to pray and ask God for His mercies. And if these people knew where they went to they would know that they have brought the wrath of God upon themselves and on those who sent them. They should ask God to forgive them and to those who sent them. It is a problem to them and the earlier they ask God to forgive them the better for them. And if they refuse; you know our God is a God of vengeance and if you fight God, He will always fight for His people. I pray to God to forgive them for the atrocities which they committed inside His sanctuary.
Agents of Imo state government said that you had ignored series of invitations by the Police, now tell us how many invitations, if any, the Police sent to you and you ignored?
The Imo state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, went on air to say they invited me, now tell me if he is now the Inspector General of Police? So he is the Commissioner of Police and the Governor is the Inspector General? How did they know that the Police invited me? This is to show that they initiated and carried out the plot of abduction. It is not hidden. They used the security apparatus attached to them to commit havoc in the state claiming insecurity. What they did in my home town, Eziama Obaire, is the insecurity you are seeing everywhere in the state. They shot everywhere and the entire community was on fire. Some old women and men fainted while some got wounded. There were blood strains in the Church. People were running and some fell on each other. I challenge the Commissioner for Information to produce the invitation letter; otherwise we will meet in court.
You don’t go to the public and make unsubstantiated claims. The truth is that I was never invited by the Police at any given time. The Police authorities did not know about the action. You can imagine that it took the Commissioner of Police several hours to respond because he was trying to know what happened. Had it been that it was on the orders of the Police, the Commissioner would have issued a statement immediately. They used the security operatives attached to them in the government house to humiliate me inside the Church, to desecrate the house of God and the man would talk on behalf of the Police. That is the level of impunity we have in Imo state. This means that somebody is now acting on behalf of the CP and IG. It is a shame on them.
When you were abducted in the Church, where were you taken to and what was the process of taking you out?
The kidnappers or the men that came wore combat mufti, their faces were covered and people in the Church thought they were kidnappers or unknown gunmen. Of course, they were kidnappers because when they came, some entered inside the Altar and some stationed themselves at strategic points and the Parish Priest asked them who they were and what they want? Their were guns were ready and shooting erupted sporadically. People scampered for their lives, they grabbed me and my wife and the wife of the Senator representing Orlu zone who is my mother-in-law came and they pushed them to the floor. They dragged me outside, tore my clothes and dragged me inside their van and took me away. When they got to Njaba, they transferred me to another vehicle. They came with a military truck. Imagine a governor using a military truck, gun jeep attached to the governor’s convoy to intimidate, harass the people you said you are protecting? The governor is not the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to be using military trucks, armoured personnel carriers and gun jeeps in his convoy. He is not supposed to be using the military in his convoy. I wonder why our President or the Chief of Army Staff should allow this to happen in a state where people are supposed to see their governor, shake hands with him, etc. And they use it to intimidate people, desecrate the house of God.
When they got to Government House roundabout the other two vehicles went to government house and the one that carried me took me all the way to Enugu. On the way I asked these people to tell me my offence but they refused to talk to me. Instead, they were talking to one Sheba, the same Sheba that is their hit man in the government house. It is the same Sheba that led them to shoot at Uzor Anwka, my co-in-law at Royal Spring Palm Estate. I wish the IG could investigate this man called Sheba, who was brought in to maim, kill Imolites. Because he did that one at the Royal Springs Palm and nothing was done against him and he decided to do another one, this time at the Altar of God.
At Okigwe as they were talking to Sheba in Hausa language and telling him the process they were carrying, they did not know that I was looking at the phone they were calling and I understand Hausa very well. Every discussion they had with Sheba I heard them, and Sheba was telling them that the plane that would carry me was approaching. When we got to Enugu, the same Sheba told them that I should remove my clothes, they said that Sheba told them to handcuff me as I was forced to remove my clothes and they videoed me and sent it to him. Sheba leaked my picture and my half naked video to social media.
Now on the issue of chartered flight, I want to say that the 20,000 Dollars they used for chartered flight would go a long way to pay the salaries of many civil servants or pensioners. So why should they use that money to humiliate me, an innocent person?
When we got to Abuja, it turned out that they had no charge against me. Everything was designed inside the Imo state government house in order to humiliate me. And the IG saw that there was no merit in their action and lies, and asked me to go the same day. If what they accused me of were true, I would not have been allowed to go, but the IG found out that they lied against me. You can imagine the wickedness, the impunity of these people. This is me; the former Commissioner for Lands, former Chief of Staff, government house, and former governorship candidate being treated this way, then you can imagine what happens to the ordinary people in the streets that nobody can talk for. It is an eye opener and God wanted to use it to show the world what has been happening in the state for a long time. Imagine if this type of action took place in one remote village, the innocent person would have been wasted and flimsy charges would be laid against the person. I want to urge that our dear president Muhammadu Buhari should look into this matter and bring the perpetrators to book. I commend the IG for his professionalism and I wish he would investigate this matter and exonerate the police from those gangs that called themselves security operatives that operate inside the government house.
I don’t know why the governor hates Owelle Rochas Okorocha and his family. During the primaries, I defeated them in APC and because of the party’s instance, I left for AA and I also defeated them. When the Supreme Court gave her judgement, we supported him because of our party. Apart from what is happening now, you have not seen or heard me talk anything about this government. I said I was not going to criticize the government because where he is today, it could have been anybody and moreover, it is my party. So what is the issue of Rochas this, Rochas that? At last, Imo people would not ask him how he fought Rochas, it would be his achievements to the state. That you collected Rochas property is not an achievement. The achievement would be his projects, how he impacted the lives of Imo citizens, how he paid civil servants and pensioners, etc. His achievements should be his legacy projects and not the roads built by Rochas and he resurfaced it. Legacy projects are the Courts Rochas Okorocha built, the Accountant General office, the dualizing of Okigwe road, Orlu road, the Akachi road, the Rapour road leading to DSS office, the flyovers, etc. So I pray that the governor should look for legacy projects and face them and forget Rochas, for God’s sake. Owelle Rochas Okorocha is a peaceful man. I worked closely with him for eight years and I did not see him fight anybody. This governor should allow Rochas’ family to face his governance. In the next two years he would be out of office and by the grace of God another person would take over.
When you were taken to Abuja, was there any allegation placed against you?
They said that a detainee by the name, Emperor in a viral video mentioned my name and I asked them if anybody comes up and mentions anybody’s name for something, they would pick up the person without first investigating whether the allegation is true or not. And the IG told them it was wrong to arrest somebody without first inviting him for questioning. However, the issue of the Emperor was that this was a young man they arrested in Asaba and he is from Ohaji/Egbema. When the STF (Special Task Force) that arrested the Emperor in Asaba came down to search, they met with Sheba who took them to a hotel near the government house and instructed the man to mention my name, Rochas and that of Kingsley Uju. This video was sent on social media. The same Emperor in a police interview said that he was mandated to mention these names and that he didn’t know me or any of those he was asked to mention.
What is your New Year message to the people?
I want to sincerely thank friends, family members, supporters across the world for their prayers when I was abducted. They condemned it and I want to use this opportunity to thank all of them for standing by me. I want to in a special way thank my family, brothers and sisters, my father in-law and mother in-law, distinguished Senator Rochas Okorocha and Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha. They are in-laws anybody would wish to have and my wife who stood by me. This is a new year, 2022; I want to pray that God will give us peace in the state. I want the government to know that actually nobody is fighting them; nobody wants to destroy their government. They should concentrate and work and serve Imolites. I pray for them to succeed. Finally, as we are in election preparatory year, I want to urge Imolites to watch and seek for God’s mercy so that in whatever decision they want to make God will guide them.