Outrage as priest testifies of how Ohakims aides assaulted, dehumanized & Illegally detained him

Source: huhuonline.com

These are obviously not the best of times for Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo state, Nigeria as he continues to swim from one controversy to another. The long standing precarious   relationship    between the governor of Imo State, Chief    Ikedi Ohakim    and    the Catholic arch-diocese of Owerri under Archbishop Anthony    Obinna, literally collapsed last week following the alleged dehumanizing assault and illegal detention of    a  catholic priest    serving under the Owerri Ecclesiastical province    by security  personnel  attached to the governor   for allegedly obstructing the movement of the governor's   convoy.  

The bishop, during the last Sunday worship, had condemned the action of the men of  State Security Service  (SSS) and the alleged dehumanization of the priest, whose  name was given as Rev. Fr .   Eustace Okorie on   Sunday   August 7, 2010 , when the convoy of   the governor   was  returning   to Owerri from  his Okohia, Isiala-Mbano LGA country home.   Bishop Obinna had expressed dismay over the inability of the governor to apologize to the church over the recklessness of his security officials, one   week after the incident,   following the ugly treatment   meted out to the innocent priest.   According to the priest who testified yesterday at the Public Tribunal on Police Abuses for the South-East states, said he was arrested   about 6pm by the security officials attached    to the    governor on    Sunday, August 8, with the accusation that   the cleric wilfully blocked the governor's    convoy    with his car ( Nissan Infinity    car) in Orie- Akabo, Ikeduru  Local   Government    Area , Imo State.  

He was taken    to the    Chief    Security    Officer    (CSO), one Mr Ismaila Bako to the Governor    who    after    interrogation ordered    that the    priest    be taken    to SSS office where he was stripped to his boxer shorts and detained    from that    evening till    about 8pm the next day    being Monday    August 9.   Angry catholic faithfuls in the South-East state have been calling for the head of Bako whom one source said, 'had the animal impunity to order the stripping and detention of a Christian cleric in full priestly sutan simply because he is a Moslem.'   Arch-Bishop Obinna has also  called  on the  relevant   Human Rights  organizations to wade into the    matter after he lamented over the ugly scenario where those vested with responsibility    to protect    the people now turn against  them.   He regretted that the priest was not allowed to communicate to anybody on his phone, a development he said raised doubt on his whereabouts for the length of  time he was  literally abducted and incarcerated.   While narrating his ordeal, Rev.   Fr .  Eustace  Okorie    insisted    that he parked    his car rightfully while    avoiding     a dangerous    ditch    within   the spot but was surprised that the security men pounced  on him, smashing  his side mirror with gun butts before    forcing    him into   a  Sport    Utility Vehicle.   Okorie,    who claimed    to be on his way to a vigil    mass , said he    was taken to the government house where    he was interrogated    by the governor's    CSO before    he was detained almost    naked    in the same cell with   a suspected cultist   for two days.   Meanwhile, the governor's Chief   Press Secretary, Mr. Henry Ekpe,  who is reported to have been speaking from both sides of the mouth has denied the incident. 'The governor cannot order for the arrest of a priest for whatever reason.    Even   as I am talking to you, the governor is not aware of the matter' Ekpe told our correspondent.  

Ekpe,   further explained   that had such happened, it would be   a matter that is subject to be handled by the   SSS  and not government   house. While the Governor is still not aware of the ugly episode, according to Ekpe, huhuonline.com / can authoritatively report that last Monday, Governor Ohakim sneaked into the court of the Arch-Bishop to apologise for the misdeed. Huhuonline.com gathered from a dependable source that the apologies were later confined to the waste bin following the demand of an apology letter from the priest by the government house security official before releasing the cleric's car to him. Arch-Bishop Obinna who was said to have been infuriated by the development advised the priest to abandon the vehicle as he was convinced that the apology should come from government to the priest and not otherwise.

Meanwhile panellists at the Public Tribunal condemned the action of the governor's security details and are expected to recommend appropriate punitive measure to relevant authorities to serve as a deterrent to other overzealous security personnel.