Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Mr. Tony Okocha, has denied any knowledge of missing youth leaders in his Rumuigbo community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
Okocha, who is also the Rivers State representative on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said the protest in his community was politically motivated and a ploy targeted at tarnishing his reputation.
The people of Rumuigbo community had protested the disappearance of two youth leaders of the community, after their visit to Abuja.
The missing youth leaders, according to the protesters, are Bobby Ezekiel, president-general of Ekinigbo Youths, and Chamberlain Owhonda, president of Nkpolu Community Youths.
One Ezekiel Ogwutum, head and chief of Nkpolu Community in Rumuigbo Clan, while leading the protest in the community yesterday, alleged that Okocha and his allies were responsible for the disappearance of the youth leaders.
He alleged that the incident happened when the youth leaders alongside other persons from the community went to the office of the Inspector-General of Police (IG) to answer a summon on a petition against them but never returned back.
According to him, “Our youths and the people of Nkpolu community are protesting because of what happened last Wednesday. Our sons were invited to Abuja by the IG for questioning on a petition concerning the issue in Rumuigbo.
“When they went there, the IG asked the DIG to interview them, and after the interview, they were asked to go home and settle since it’s a chieftaincy matter, and before they go, they should sign an undertaken so that there won’t be any problem in Rumuigbo, which they did.”
Reacting to the allegation before journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, Okocha said he is not a party in the petition before the IG, and wondered how the protesters dragged him into the problem.
The former Chief of Staff to former Governor Rotimi Amaechi expressed sadness that his people could not appreciate his developmental impact in the community but joined forces with his political enemies to fight him.
He added: “Some elements tried to drag my name in the mud over a matter I know nothing about. I have never arrested any Rumuigbo person in my years of service in the state government till date.
“Recently, our community got involved in a chieftaincy disagreement which divided the community into two. The indices that were thrown up could lead to war but we advised ourselves that we would rather work out peace because we would have no place to call home if the community went aflame.
“I am not in the petition that took the community to Abuja; I don’t know what they are talking about. It is an attempt to malign my character.”
The APC chieftain, however, gave the community and one Prof Reginald Amadi whom he claimed led the protest, to apologies to him within 24 days or be dragged to court over malicious protest against his image.
“I am giving Prof Reginald Amadi and his cohorts 14 days to apologies to me for the attempt to tarnish my reputation or I will press charges against them in the court,” Okocha warned.