By Frank Tietie
I have not hidden my personal admiration for Rochas Okorocha who became a billionaire long before he held any major political office in Nigeria.
By privilege as an adjutant counsel to Okorocha in one of his cases, I have personally engaged him in exchanges and briefings for many hours and I am convinced beyond doubt, by moderate standards that he is a good man, especially in comparison to the average Nigerian politician.
By dint of hard work and the natural business knack of the Igbo man, Okorocha became very rich and did not need to be the governor of Imo State to make money. He made money without government.
No politician or business man has ever done what Okorocha has achieved for human development through the Rochas Foundation which has offered free quality education to thousands of orphans and indigent students in Nigeria and all over Africa. These he started before he became governor and has continued after leaving office as governor of Imo State. I will therefore, not apologize to anyone for loving such a man who possesses such humanity.
So what has Rochas Okorocha done?
The man possesses a worldview that sets him apart from the normal Nigerian politician. I see him as a highly misunderstood person yet his works speak better for him. He is so people oriented, driven by his uncommon brand of philanthropy while his business ideas spin so much money. That is why he is so loved by many and equally hated by his political rivals for being so different.
If Okorocha stole money while in Imo State Government House, the EFCC would know, considering the staggering number of petitions currently against him. He is about the most investigated former governor by the anti-graft agencies.
Unlike the typical African politician who would pillage state resources and hide in Swiss banks or buy property in Dubai, Okorocha put his major investments in real estate and education in his home state of Imo because he didn’t have any skeletons to hide.
Today, impassioned by the seeds of hatefulness, some people and a current government in Imo State have decided to engage in a brutish vendetta to satisfy their hatred, by attempting to label and confiscate property linked to Okorocha in Imo State. Can they try that with his real estate investments in Abuja? They don’t even have a court order. Imagine the lawlessness!
So will Nigeria ever witness standard policing? Must the Nigeria Police be associated with everything untoward? My answer is NO!.
But if Okorocha must be arrested by the Nigeria Police for any reason, should it be made a political festival of insults and humiliation of Okorocha himself, with supervised beatings and manhandling of his aides by sympathisers of Governor Hope Uzodinma? These have been reported to have allegedly taken place on the orders of Governor Uzodinma himself and under the supervision of the Nigerian Police.
Again, this is an abuse and misuse of Nigeria Police powers. Therefore, the clamour for state police has been further defeated when contemplated with the likes of Governor Uzodinma in mind. Such brigandage and barbarity will be the order of day in states where the Governor fails to realize his duty is to preserve order and good governance by upholding legal standards in whatever circumstances.
Governor Uzodinma and many rivals of Okorocha appear to be so afraid and intimidated by the continued towering personality of Okorocha who is currently one of the most ardent voices in the Nigerian Senate. It is also rife that he wants to run for Nigeria’s presidency in 2023 to become the first Igbo President of post civil war Nigeria.
Whereas Senator Rochas Okorocha ought to be the pride of every Igbo person at this material time yet, it is his kith and kin from Imo State that want to destroy the good name of one of their own, purely out puny and petty rivalry. Who does that in modern Nigeria? From Second Republic Barkin Zuwo to Peter Odili, which former Governor, however so vilified has been so badly mistreated by his own people, the way some Imo people have decided to do to one of their own? Like they would always say: “The South eats up it own while the North protect its own”. And one wonders and complains about the continued reign of Northern hegemony in the midst of Southern hate amongst themselves?
The saga of Okorocha’s arrest by the Nigeria Police with the reported associated violence involving some officials of Imo State together with a band of name calling elements against Okorocha and his aides fall below the standards of law enforcement even for an emergent country as ours.
The Inspector General of Police is therefore urged to urgently investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the Senator and former Governor and ensure that proper policing standards are adhered to in order to prevent a perception of witch-hunt of Senator Rochas Okorocha thus, engendering disaffection among his numerous supporters in Imo State and all over Nigeria.
Frank Tietie, Human Rights Lawyer writes from Abuja
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