Governor Rochas Okorocha’s move to have his deputy impeached has hit a brickwall following an Abuja court order halting impeachment moves against Eze Madumere.
The ruling delivered Friday Judge, O.A Musa of the Federal highcourt comes as a breath of relief to the embattled deputy governor who has been in Okorocha’s crosshairs ahead of the 2019 elections.
Among Madumere’s political sins was his alleged connivance with the former National Organising Secretary of the APC, Osita Izunaso, to cease control of the party during the ward congress held in May.
Okorocha, at various times, had blamed Izunaso for hiding the results sheets meant for the congresses, thereby preventing him and his supporters from participating in the exercise.
In a bid to take control of the party in the state, Okorocha was believed to have supplanted Izunaso with Emma Ibediro at the party’s national convention. This was after he was said to have used his ‘political connection’ to force the former secretary of the national convention of the party, Senator Ben Uwajumogu, who was also one of the arrow head of the ‘Okorocha must be stopped’ group, to throw in the towel.
All these were happening while Okorocha awaited the outcome of a suit filed by some of his supporters at a Federal High Court, challenging the outcome of that congress.
Justice Lewis Allagoa, on Thursday July 5 declared null the results of that disputed congress and the consequent local government and state congresses and ordered for new elections.
Bouyed by this ruling, Okorocha pushed for the removal of Madumere, something that did not come as a surprise to observers in the state. The government had had to deny previously that Okorocha’s wife had plotted a previous attempt to oust Madumere. But Okorocha did not deny his involvement in this fresh plot when asked about it. He was reported to have said Madumere should face his ordeal.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha accused Madumere of betraying him and thereby biting the finger that fed him.
Dr. Theodore Ekechi, a politician, blamed Gov Okorocha for Madumere’s ordeals.
“What is happening to Madumere is an orchestration and re-enactment of the same scenario when Okorocha sacked his deputy, Jude Agbaso in 2013,” he said. “Okorocha was afraid because Agbaso, being an Owerri man, might want to challenge him in 2015 because of some understanding they had prior to the 2011 election and so the only way to stop him was to remove him from office. If you remember, the allegations against Agbaso were quashed by the court because they were trumped up charges. This is what is happening now to Madumere. The whole plot is about Okorochas’s self-succession bid and to ensure that Madumere did not have the opportunity to enter certain places to enable him join us in the struggle,” he said.
The “self-succession” bid he mentioned referred to Okorocha’s declared intention to have his son in law, uche Nwosu succeed him as governor of the state, something Ekechi is strongly opposed to.
“We are not pretentious about our resolve to ensure that Okorocha did not succeed himself through his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu. Okorocha will never have a third term. We are going to put the interest of Imo people far above the interest of the party,” he said.
Ekechi said they have appealed Justice Allagoa’s ruling nullifying the ward congresses and are now awaiting judgement.
With the Okorocha led faction now in charge of the party structures in the state under acting Chairman, Chris Oguoma and acting Secretary, there status is not guaranteed as they were not appointed by the court.
Oguoma said that before the court pronouncement, his executive had already passed a no confidence vote on the Hillary Eke-led executive, making him the authentic leader of the party in the state.
“By the court pronouncement, the status quo that should be maintained is my executive because Hillary Eke and his co travellers had already been sacked. I am still the acting chairman; nothing has changed. We are waiting for directives from the national headquarters of our party to conduct a fresh congress. Hopefully once proper congresses are passed, we will take over the machinery of the party in the state. We are doing our work in the party and also getting ready to conduct the local government elections, which by the timetable set by the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission, will be held on the 28th of this month,” he said.
As each faction lays claim to the leadership, the sharp division in Imo APC will surely affect the fortunes of the party in the state in the 2019 elections. This will also, to a large extent depend on who emerges as the party’s gubernatorial flag bearer.
With former governor Ikedi Ohakim’s romance with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the emerging strength of PDP through the new R-APC, the fate of APC may be hanging on a loose rope.
The only candidate with a formidable structure in the APC for now appears to be Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, while in the opposition PDP, the nomination may be a straight fight between Emeka Ihedioha and Senator Samuel Anyanwu.
An opinion poll conducted by an independent researcher had put Ihedioha ahead of others in the governorship race, while Anyanwu has stepped up his campaigns in recent times.
However the governor’s decision to have his son-in-law succeed him in 2019 may be irreversible.
Okorocha, answering a question as to why he preferred Uche Nwosu, said that he had found no other capable hand, stressing that he had the belief that Nwosu will perform more than him in office.
Ekechi alluded to this fact when he said, “No intervention from any quarter will be acceptable to Okorocha. To us, the intervention will be at the point of the ballot box. We are not mincing words because we are poised to stop him.”
With the dates for the convention of the party already fixed for August by the electoral body, it is doubtful whether the issues would be resolved before the party goes to the polls to elect their candidates for the various positions. Political watchers are afraid that the APC may not be able to field any candidate at the state level in the 2019, thereby making it possible for an underdog to emerge as Imo governor in 2019.
According to Kelechi Mejuobi, a journalist, and a political commentator thinks Okorocha’s imposition of Nwosu would improve “the chances of his followers seeking elective positions. Losing the structure would be suicidal for his future political projections.”
He added, “The implication is that the Hilary-Eke led state executive, where the principal officers, like the chairman, deputy, publicity secretary, woman leader and organizing Secretary are on the side of the ‘Allied Forces’ would continue to resist Okorocha’s influence and control during the primaries. Apart from Eke, his Deputy, Ugochukwu Nzekwe, Clems Anozie and Nwabueze Oguchienti Organizing Secretary and State Public Secretary, respectively are coalition members.”