•Amanze Obi

Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Amanze Obi, has described the man who alleged that the state governor flogged him as a liar and blackmailer.

Obi said that Samuelson Ikenna Iwuoha, not only lied but also trying to blackmail Ohakim, with the view to extorting money from him.

He said that the Imo governor has never met Iwuoha and could not have invited him to Government House, let alone flogging. He accused the opposition of sponsoring Iwuoha to smear Ohakim's name.

In recent weeks, Governor Ohakim has been in the eye of the storm over an allegation by someone called Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha that he manhandled him in his office, in Government House Owerri.  What really happened?

That allegation is one of the craziest allegations against Governor Ohakim.  But coming from a fellow, like Samuelson, whose state of mind is a subject of suspicion, one is hardly surprised.  What has this Samuelson not accused the governor of?  For more than two years now, this man has taken Ohakim and his government as a project.  His mission, as handed down to him by his sponsors, is to discredit Ohakim thoroughly.  He has done so much in this regard.  He has accused the governor of all manner of crimes.  Now, the height of it all is that infantile declaration that the governor beat him up in Government House.  His Excellency has never come in contact with this fellow.

What business will such a miscreant have in Government House?  When did the seat of government become a haven for roving lunatics who are intent on inflicting harm on those around them?  The governor never met Samuelson anywhere, let alone brutalizing him.  Just tell me, how can the governor do that when he has security operatives around him? What is his ADC doing?  What about his CSO? They are the ones that can beat up somebody if the need arises.  But nobody ever saw Samuelson in Government House.  The question of beating him up, therefore, does not arise.  The allegation is bizarre and senseless.

So, what really happened?
I think it is the Police that can answer that question.  They are the ones that arrested him.

Did government order his arrest?
No, not at all.  Why should government order for his arrest?  The Police know their job. They know when a crime has been committed.  Samuelson has committed a number of crimes against the state.  He has run foul of the law severally.  The police had been noting this.  If you look at the charges brought against him, you will appreciate the reason for his arrest.  The charges date back to January 2009.  He has an eight-count charge hanging on his neck.

Most of the things he did were aimed at extorting money from the governor.  I have been encountering his malicious and libelous articles in my e-mail.  I did not know who he was.  So I dismissed those things as part of the junk that people send to my mail sometimes.   But little did I know that he was also harassing and intimidating other people around the governor with the same obnoxious publications.  If you read what he published in one junk newspaper sometime in December 2009, you cannot but dismiss this man as an insane fellow.

What are the charges against him?
He was charged in the Magistrate's Court of Imo State, Owerri Magisterial District, on eight counts. One of the counts said that Samuelson Iwuoha, 'on the 13th day of November, 2009, published and exhibited on the Internet and through national newspapers, to the effect that Ikedi Ohakim uses Lemmy Akakem to loot the resources of Imo State by awarding his construction company inflated contracts.'  In another count, Samuelson alleged that Ikedi Ohakim conspired with Ruodo Nig. Ltd to defraud Imo State government through inflated contracts.  Samuelson said the height of this robbery attack on Imo State and her citizens is the award of contract to Ruodo Nig. Ltd. to 'dredge' Nworie River at a frightening cost of N8billion in March 2009 with over 50 percent of this sum already paid to Tony Chukwu as mobilization.

But how true are these allegations?
I think it is for Samuelson Iwuoha to prove.  The matter is now in court.  I believe that that is the best place to deal with the matter.  Samuelson has an opportunity to prove his allegation.  But without prejudice to what the courts will say, I can tell you, without equivocation, that the allegations are as nonsensical as they are malicious.  It is ridiculous and mischievous for anyone to talk about the dredging of Nworie River in that manner.  This is a project, which the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is undertaking.  The project is in the Commission's 2010 budget.  So, you can see that the project is still at its elementary stage.

The question of giving anybody a mobilization fee of N4 billion does not arise.  In any case, who told Samuelson that the contract sum is N8 billion?  How does he know?  He is not in a position to know.  In fact, what is going on in Imo State is that some people who feel that power ought to be in their hands have decided not to give peace a chance.  They have, therefore, recruited idle elements and job men to run dirty errands for them.

But who is this Samuelson Iwuoha?
I honestly do not know who he is.  But I am aware that he is a grubby street boy without a profession.  I am told that he hawks kerosene on the streets of Ikenegbu Layout, Owerri.  I also understand that his makeshift shop, an illegal structure, was demolished by ENTRACO officials.  You know Owerri as a 'Clean and Green' city has no room for shanties.  That was how the man finally flew off the handle.  That was how he fully made himself a willing tool in the hands of disgruntled politicians.  From what I was told, this man was not worth N50, 000 until opposition politicians recruited him to carry out their dirty job.

Don't you think that his arrest, detention and prosecution are likely to be interpreted to mean that your government is clamping down on journalists?

Journalists?  Samuelson is not a journalist.  He is just a hack writer.  He does not even write well.  His writings are usually punctuated with illogic and grammatical infelicities.  I think people like him do not deserve a space in our newspapers.  They are desecrating the noble profession of journalism with their fiction writing.  Editors and managers of our newspapers should be circumspect when people like Samuelson send materials for publication to them.  The recklessness of his like will be checked if people like him are kept at bay.  He does not deserve a space in any newspaper worth its name.

But it appears he is taken seriously in some quarters.  I mean that some people believe in those allegations he levelled against your governor.  That probably explains why Festus Keyamo is defending him.

Of course, it is evident that some people believe him.  That is only natural.  No matter how crazy an idea is, there will be people who will subscribe to it.  And as we say in local parlance, a mad man has relatives even if they do not openly identify with him.  So, I am not surprised that there are people that believe him. But what surprises me is that a man of Keyamo's calibre was taken in by the antics of people like Samuelson.  I have always argued that Keyamo was driven into that belief by a certain sense of populism.  He probably sees Samuelson as the downtrodden, who is being trampled upon by a bourgeois.  The truth is that Samuelson is a commoner.  But he is playing in the league of big politicians, who are using him to achieve their selfish objectives.  He is being handsomely rewarded by them.  I want to believe that Keyamo does not know that this Samuelson is an agent.  If he knows, he will be less enthusiastic in associating with this professional blackmailer.

It is unfortunate that Keyamo made up his mind so fast.  He did not crosscheck the story presented to him by Samuelson. Instead, he wrote the governor based on the lies and fabrications handed down to him by a street boy.  It is important that Keyamo knows the truth, so that he will not be shooting indiscriminately.  In fact, Keyamo ought to know that Governor Ohakim is too decent to be associated with such cheap lies as told by Samuelson.  But as I said earlier, let Samuelson prove his case since the matter is now in court.  But my worry is that Keyamo will be reducing his esteem, in the eyes of the public, if he is seen defending a man who lies freely and openly without batting an eyelid.

What about the arrest and detention of Maximus Uba?  Some people are alleging that your government is behind it?

It is the same story as that of Samuelson.  Government has no business arresting anybody.   Government is not a law enforcement agency.  Maximus ran foul of the law and the police went after him.  His case has even been explained by Imo State Police Command.  He jumped bail.  So, what the police have done is to arrest him for refusing to make himself available for justice.  Like Samuelson, he has also been delighting in blackmailing Governor Ohakim.  Imagine Maximus writing that Ohakim has been stealing local council funds.  He wrote that Ohakim's government has been borrowing money from banks to buy big cars and houses.  What an absurd thing to say.  So, let him come forward and prove the allegations.  The police have said he will be arraigned in court as soon as they conclude their investigations.  That is all.  The onus of proof is on the accuser.