.It’s Ihedioha’s first assignment—Okorocha.
It must be unpaid contractors; we’re focused on better things —Govt
By Chinonso Alozie & Dennis Agbo
Accusations and counter-accusations have trailed the demolition of Akachi Tower in Owerri, Imo State.
While the immediate past governor, Rochas Okorocha, said it was a first assignment of the new administration of Governor Emeka Ihedioha, the governor denied any knowledge of the demolition, but suggested that it could be the work of those who have been working around the statue without being paid by the Okorocha government.
Okorocha, through his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemedo, said: “We want to also use this opportunity to inform the general public that 24 hours after inauguration, the new PDP government in the state carried out its first assignment by demolishing Akachi (the symbolic hand of God) Tower erected by the former governor.
“This is suspicious. They have also changed the Imo Trade and Investment Centre to Ahiajoku. The former governor had taken certain steps to bring Imo people closer to God. We have also heard that they want to close the Government House Chapel.”
Responding, Ihedioha through his Special Adviser on Media, Steve Osuji, said: “Imo State government has no hand in the demolition of Akachi statue. Contrary to reports emanating from Owerri, the government of Imo State has no hand in the pulling down of the gargantuan Akachi statue near Aba Road, Owerri.
“At about noon on Thursday (yesterday), a mammoth crowd had besieged the Akachi statue hacking at it and trying to pull it down, apparently acting in pent up anger.
“According to reports, Imo people seem to have nursed a loathing for the statue right from the beginning, considering it a monument that portends ominous auguries for the people of the state.
“Another version suggests that the contractors who have been working rather endlessly around the statue for some time, but who may have not been paid, may be responsible for the breaching of the giant statue.
“If government deems it necessary to pull down the statue or any structure for that matter, it would be done properly and in accordance with the law.
“Does it stand to reason that a government that is barely 24 hours old, with no handover notes whatsoever and without an office to work from, would concern itself with an ordinary statue?
“Let it be known that the new government in Imo State has its eyes set on nobler goals which includes fast-tracking the rebuilding of Imo State.
“It is interesting to note that the Akachi statue is a massive monument of a hand pointing heavenwards and rising about 50 feet into the atmosphere. Not many in Imo quite understand the significance of the baleful legacies of outgone governor, Rochas Okorocha.”
Vanguard observed that the demolition started at about 02:15p.m.
Meanwhile, security agents have taken over the location of the tower, halting the demolition.
While an eyewitness told Vanguard that the demolition was carried out by the agents of the new government of Emeka Ihedioha, others were of the view that the land on which the Akachi Tower was built was forcefully collected from the original owners, who on their own decided to carry out the demolition.
According to one Onyenso, “we saw some people in two hilux vehicles last night and some security people. They came, moved round the tower and later drove off.
“Just this afternoon (yesterday), as we were working in our site, we saw a group of people with a caterpillar and they ordered the man in the caterpillar to start pulling down the Akachi Tower.
“They were shouting ‘a new government has emerged and we are taking what belongs to us; nobody can stop us. There is a new government, old things have passed away and given way for a new thing.”
Another, who did not want his name mentioned told Vanguard: “This land is not government’s land. It belongs to some people.
“It is like some people are angry and they want to take laws into their hands. With the way this thing has started, anything can happen at anytime.
“Government must be guided and be careful of those using its name to take actions. This is taking a very bad shape, whether you like it or not.”
This is just as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said it did not arrest Okorocha.
It added that Okorocha had no invitation from them and urged people to disregard the rumours in the social media.
EFCC spokesman, South-East regional office, Mr. Chris Oluka, told Vanguard in Enugu that the commission has been having issues with Okorocha but that the former governor has neither been invited for questioning nor arrested.
Oluka’s words: “It (the arrest) is not true. There is nothing like that. We have even called our headquarters in Abuja and asked them if they came to arrest here without letting us know and they said they did not.
“You know we’ve been having issues with him, but when we formally invite him, people will know. For now, nobody has arrested anybody.””