‘Imo has been turned into a terror zone’ — anti-Okorocha protesters recount police ‘torture’…
Members of the Imo Peoples Action for Democracy (IPAD) have recounted how they were allegedly attacked and beaten up by police officers in the state Monday morning during their protest against Rochas Okorocha, the governor.
The group had embarked on a one week expected protest tagged ‘Occupy Imo’ to express reservation with some of the policies of the current administration.
Chief among the grouse of the protesters is the erection of statues in Owerri, the state capital, costing millions of naira, when the state is still owing workers salaries and pensions.
They are also opposed to the appointment of the governor’s sister as Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose Fulfilment.
The group had written to the police and the State Security Service for security during the rally. While the SSS gave approval for the rally to hold, the police asked that the rally be shifted till after the yuletide period.
But the group refused, arguing that the police have no right to stop it from protesting.
Shortly after the protest in Owerri, the state capital, the group said they had been accosted by “heavily-armed policemen who demanded we stop because the commissioner of police did not approve the rally.”
“We insisted that we must continue since the law did not say we needed his permission before we could embark on a peaceful protest,” read a statement issued by Aku Obidinma, its coordinator.
“As we continued our match, the police descended on us and started beating up the protesters, firing tear gas, confiscated our placards and manhandled even the minors amongst us.
“Today is really a sad day for our democracy. Imo state has been turned into a terror zone. Governor Rochas Okorocha is now a full-blown dictator and he has as his accomplice the Imo state police commissioner, Mr. Chris Ezike, who is always ready to do his dirty jobs.”
The group lamented that the police “who ought to protect peaceful protesters are the ones now used to attack law abiding citizens.”
“We wish to inform the government and the police that no amount of intimidation will make us drop our agitation for good governance in Imo state,” it said.
“We will in no distant time mobilize Imolites for a massive protest that will bring the government to its knees.
“We use this medium to call on the police authorities and the presidency to quickly redeploy the Imo state police commissioner out of Imo state as he has lost the confidence of the people of the state.”
When contacted for reaction, the police declined to comment on the allegation.