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IMO AND THE MANACE OF “SOCIAL CRUSADERS”

By Declan Onyenali

In their reportage of the recent allegation by one Samuelson Ikenna Iwuoha to the effect that he was beaten up by the Governor of Imo State Chief Ikedi Ohakim is the latter's office, many newspapers referred to Mr. Iwuoha as “a social crusader.” Really?

This skepticism arises because even the commonest meaning is not in sink with what the critical public has been knows of the antics and activities of this fellow who is now standing trial in court on criminal charges.

In plain language, a Social Crusader means one who engages in activities that enhances the well being of the society. That is the first thing that would occur to any mind the moment another fellow is referred to as a “social crusader”. In other words, such a characterization confers on the fellow so described (as a social crusader) the responsibility of conducting him or herself in an exemplary manner. Being a social crusader, therefore, precludes, for example, being a peddler of falsehood or false allegations against those in authority.

A social crusader must be some body who has knowledge of things, especially those he wants to effect positive changes on. In other words, a social crusader must arm him or her self with facts that would make it possible for him to advance his cause. Social crusading not based on facts that are verifiable becomes nothing but campaign of calumny.

If we juxtapose these simple definitions and explanations of what social crusading means with the activities of Mr Iwuoha for which he is now standing trial in court, it would become glaring that it is absolutely a misnomer to so characterize him. What has happened is that a section of the media has fallen for the antics of some politicians in Imo state who are using Mr Iwuoha to pursue private partisan interests.

Samuelson Iwuoha became handy for some disgruntled elements in Imo state following the removal of his make shift Kerosene kiosk in a street corner in Owerri by officials of the State Environmental Transformation Committee (ENTRACO) because the kiosk was built on top of a sewage facility. Although others whose kiosks were also removed for similar reasons relocated on the orders of the state government, Mr Iwuoha remained adamant Never known to have written an article all his life before that incident, Mr Iwuoha, with the help of some people, was able to get one of the local (Owerri-based) weekly publications to carry his story. Shortly after, opposition elements who were then on a massive recruitment drive went for Iwuoha and had no difficulty in signing him on. That was how Mr Samuelson Ikenna Iwuoha became a social crusader.

Residents of Owerri who have been reading Iwuoha's articles must have been baffled at his sudden transformation from a road side kerosene seller to a fiery critic; so versatile and ubiquitous that he now has on his finger tips a record of everything Governor Ikedi Ohakim did anywhere in the world. On November 17, 2009, Iwuoha posted an article in the Internet in which he alleged that “Ikedi Ohakim used state funds to acquire eye popping mansions in the following cities of the world: Owerri, Anara (yes Anara) Okohia (Ohakim's hometown), Abuja, Lagos, London, Atlanta, Maryland, Dubai, South Africa etc. Before then, Iwuoha had, on January 29, 2009 published an article under the title, “HOW OHAKIM LOOTS AND MISMANAGES IMO STATE”. In that article, Iwuoha posted mind boggling figures representing amounts of money in various national currencies which he alleges Governor Ohakim had stolen from Imo state's common till.

The same day, January 29, 2009, 'author' Iwuoha posted in the Internet another story with the caption, “OHAKIM AND 419 ACTIVITIES”. In the article, Iwuoha wrote among others: “That Ikedi Ohakim is a 419 man is an understatement,” adding “he has been involved in so many dishonest schemes which are well known”. According to Iwuoha, Governor Ohakim “actually learnt wash-wash business in Aba” and that “his nicknames in the crime world are 'Egbe' and 'Keep Forging It'.” Iwuoha explained that “Keep Forging It” is a name Ohakim derived “because of his expertise in forging signatures and cheques of important business men and documents of foreign companies”.

Such is the level of 'courage' Iwuoha has shown in traducing Governor Ikedi Ohakim who have had to live with the anguish of contending with such allegations in a very gullible society. But the matter was soon to take a new dimension when one morning, G.S.M text messages began to make the rounds to the effect that Governor Ohakim physically assaulted Iwuoha in his (the Governor's) office after he was brought there by some security agents who went to Iwuoha's house to arrest him in the earlier hours of January 21, 2010.

Before residents of Owerri knew what was happening, Mr Iwuoha had carried his matter to Lagos, Abuja, Markurdi, Jos, Kano etc, where he sought the help of fellow 'social crusaders' to join him in the campaign to finally shoot down Ohakim from his gubernatorial heights. In Lagos, he met a well known Lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo, who took his brief to defend him on the criminal charges against him in court and as well “deal” with Ohakim. Keyamo soon fired a letter to Ohakim in which latter he left no one in doubt that he had bought his client's allegations hook, line and sinker. Keyamo made allusions in his letter that clearly showed that he might not have been looking at the matter entirely as a lawyer but also as a fellow who probably saw another opportunity to rubbish another big man.

Some commentators have since accused Keyamo of having an ulterior motive in writing the letter to Ohakim. For example, they query why he had to write a public letter to the governor over a matter he was merely briefed as a counsel and, indeed, went ahead to post the letter in theInternet.

In an article published in some Nigerian newspapers last week, one Mike Nwachukwu asked if Keyamo was taking up the matter as a lawyer or as a newspaper columnist. According to Nwachukwu, Keyamo is in the habit of taking matters he was handling for his clients in court to the pages of newspapers through his column. In the instant case, Nwachukwu argued that Keyamo had, through his letter, armed his critics to contend that he was on a mission beyond giving his client, Samuelson Iwuoha, legal services. Keyamo is yet to respond to this allegation, amidst fears that it was top politicians in Imo state that brought him into the matter with a view to exploiting his (Keyamo's) 'radical' traits to get even with Ohakim.

But they didn't stop there. This group of Ohakim's political opponents also linked Iwuoha with a well known social critic and politician from Benue State, Dr Godwin Dabo' Adzuana. According to feelers, the belief of Iwuoha's sponsors is that with the combination of Keyamo and Dabo (as he is better known), Ohakim will virtually run away from the Governor's Lodge, Owerri. But they met a stone wall in Dabo' Adzuana who in a letter dated February 18, 2010, told Iwuoha that he would have nothing to do with him and his case. Wrote Dabo'Adzuana “… To say the least, I am shocked at the gravity of your allegation against Governor Ohakim. I am also told that you could not supply the Imo State House of Assembly with incontrovertible evidence to support your allegation against Governor Ohakim when requested to do so”. Concluding his letter, Dr Dabo'Adzuana had this to say to Iwuoha: “… It is clear that majority of the people of Imo state are satisfied with Governor Ohakim's performance. One is, therefore, inclined to dismiss your grave allegations against him as provocative and totally unjustified”.

If Governor Ohakim and his aides thought a reprieve was coming, they were wrong. Mr Iwuoha has since shown that for him and his sponsors there is no yet hiding place for the governor. In a paid advertorial in some national newspapers last week, Iwuoha, writing under the auspices of a faceless group, CONCERNED IMO CITIZENS, listed 15 acts of human rights violation against Governor Ohakim. In the advertorial, signed by Iwuoha alongside one Vincent Eke, it was alleged that “the resolve of the present administration in Imo state to stick to power by hook or crook despite mounting opposition from the populace has led it into a situation where murder, intimidation and abduction have become official instruments of the government for the decimation of real and imaginary political opponent”.

Although many Imo citizens had no difficulty in dismissing such posturing as pure fallacy, it has now became clear to observers that his campaign against Ohakim is methodic and organized. There are feelers that the clique sponsoring Iwuoha has recruited a lot of media practitioners including powerful and influential newspaper columnists in the campaign. Mr Iwuoha has been spotted in several newsrooms in Lagos and Abuja. He has also been spotted in Five Star Hotels in the two cities. And the big question has been: Who is picking the bills? Not a few are indeed marveled at this sudden transmogrification of a roadside kerosene seller who now flies around the country trying to recruit very important dignitaries to join his crusader.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Declan Onyenali and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."