Disturbed by the weight of evidence in the petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, against Governor Rochas Okorocha, at the state Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, the governor has appealed to the traditional rulers of Mbaise land to persuade the petitioner to drop case.
The governor also asked the Mbaise monarchs to beckon on the head of the legal team of Ihedioha, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN) to withdraw the petition in the interest of the state.
Ahamba is also from Mbaise, the same area with Ihedioha.
Okorocha, who is visibly disturbed, challenged the traditional rulers yesterday during a meeting with members of the state Council of Traditional Rulers in Owerri to persuade their sons to withdraw the petition.
THISDAY gathered that the over 40 alleged traditional rulers that were suspended or facing trial from the government-sponsored council of traditional rulers were absent from the meeting.
Sources told THISDAY that the governor’s appeal to the traditional rulers amounted to threat on the lives of Ihedioha, Ahamba and the traditional rulers.
“The implication is that if at the end of the day, the petition is not withdrawn by the parties, the governor can go ahead to get his own ‘pound of flesh’ from the persons directly concerned,” they noted.
The sources said it was also observed that the action of the governor to single out only traditional rulers from Mbaise to stand-up in the midst of their colleagues amounted to intimidation, threat and impunity, challenging the governor to desist from such punitive measures.
Meanwhile, the governor has directed the 40 traditional rulers in the state who took him and the government to court to withdraw the suit without further delay and to also tender an apology, adding that such action amounted to insult and embarrassment to him and the government.
The governor said for the 40 traditional rulers to have gone to court against him and the government for no tenable, tangible and justifiable reason, it means they must have mistaken his patience, tolerance and respect for the people of the state as weakness.
The 40 traditional rulers had gone to court on the grounds that the governor had suspended them and even went to the media to claim that the court had restrained the governor from suspending them.
The governor said the traditional rulers were out to deliberately malign him and his government because he never suspended the traditional rulers or sacked them.
He added that he had not taken any action that suggested that he had any plan to go against them and then questioned the rationale behind taking him to court.
He also explained that the state Council of Traditional Rulers led by Eze Samuel Ohiri does not have the right to suspend or remove any Eze from his stool, adding that it is only him (governor) who has that right and he had never exercised such right against the traditional rulers in question.
He noted that the leadership of the traditional rulers council only suspended four of their members from the council and not as Ezes as to begin to suspect that they acted on behalf of the governor.
The governor also directed at the meeting that whatever money that was owed the traditional rulers in the state should be paid within a week.
He also dissolved the traditional rulers’ councils in the local governments, saying that their tenures had expired long before now.