The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, has cancelled his trip to the state.
According to report emerging from his camp, the state government is plotting allegations that the former governor of the state’s return will set the state on fire.
The former House of Representatives Deputy Speaker who has been in Abuja since the Supreme Court affirmed the victory of Hope Uzodinma as the governor of the state was scheduled to return to the state on Thursday.
However, the PDP governorship candidate and his party was accused by the state government on Wednesday of planning a massive protest against it.
The Chief Press Secretary to the state Governor, Oguwike Nwachuku, in a statement said that violence will occur following Ihedioha’s return.
Nwachuku in the state said the government is aware of PDP’s plan to stage protests “during which they will again pour insults on the Supreme Court Judges for refusing to reverse their earlier judgment on the Imo governorship case”.
“The government is fully aware of the plan by the PDP to hide under the guise of welcoming ousted Governor Emeka Ihedioha back to Imo to stage the protests.”
“Their plan is to make it look like Imo people trooped out to welcome him and hide under that cover to display placards condemning the Supreme Court Justices for refusing to reverse their judgment in favour of Ihedioha and the PDP.”
“From the airport they plan to proceed to Owerri, the state capital to continue with the protests.”
“Government is also aware that they have imported thugs from neighbouring states for this purpose because the few members left in their ranks cannot make the impact they crave for.”
The Uzodinma’s administration called on the security operatives in the state to pay attention to the plan of Ihedioha and PDP and take steps to ensure that there is no breach of peace.
Following the call by the Imo State government, the Nigeria Police banned rallies and protests across the state.
The spokesperson of the Imo State Police Command, Ikeokwu Godson Orlando, said that some group of persons have concluded plans to use the return Ihedioha to foment trouble.
The command warned that “there should be no rally, gathering or assembly of any kind in relation to the visit.”
“This is to avoid such being hijacked or used by mischief makers to cause chaos or such rallies, gathering or assembly snowballing into the breach of peace.”
“The general public is therefore advised not to allow themselves to be used by anyone or group to foment as anyone found culpable will be made to face the wrath of the law.”
Ihedioha in his reaction noted that even though he decided to stay away from family and friends in Imo, “I am not aware that I have been exiled out of the state.”
“Unfortunately, the statement by the Imo State government, made several spurious allegations, including that I plan to lead violent protests as well as import thugs to perpetrate violence. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“I am not, and have never been, a violent person. My reputation is that of peace and fair play. I have never propagated or tolerated violence. And I never will.”
Ihedioha disclosed that he received intelligence that the Imo government, working with security operatives are planning to arrest and detain “many of our supporters and to visit mayhem on the expected large crowd which they anticipate will come out to welcome me back home.”
“By judging me by their own character, their scheme is to stigmatize and garb us in the toga of violence. These are the tendencies of unpopular and illegitimate regimes.”
“It is therefore for the foregoing reasons that I have decided to postpone my trip to Owerri so as to frustrate their evil plans and machinations. My visit is not worth the life of any Imo citizen.”
“However, the massive deployment of security personnel by the government as well as thugs cannot deter us and the majority of our people from pursuing our collective vision for a better Imo State.”
“The constitutional rights, including the right to free speech and to freedom of movement, are inalienable. And nobody can take that away from me. I will certainly, by the grace of God, be visiting the state very soon.”