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The attention of Imo State Government has been drawn to a malicious report of Sunday Punch  which portrayed that His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha (OON) fought Gov. Peter Obi’s  protocol officer over seat.

This exclusive story by Punch newspaper suggested that  the incident was only witnessed  by its reporter even as there were many other journalists present at Okopara Square Enugu to cover the 80th birthday of Dr. Alex Ekwueme on Saturday  October 19th, 2012. Perhaps, that might be the reason no other newspaper reported it.

This is a clear case of irresponsible journalism as the report is nothing but falsehood in all its ramifications. It is a fabrication of lies orchestrated to tannish the image of His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha whose rising profile in governance is obviously getting some few disgruntled elements jittery.

This is a man whose humility and antecedents as a peace-loving Nigerian speak volume in our nation and beyond. It is a fact today that Gov. Okorocha has contributed eloquently in several peace-building process in Nigeria including the National Peace Forum which he single-handedly organized in 2005.

In governance, Gov. Okorocha has exhibited uncommon humility and respect to  the common man in the street and that’s why he has continued to  enjoy a very unique relationship with the people which include the market women, keke operators, commercial bus drivers, school children, artisans and civil servants.

However, it is worthy to mention that His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha who on that faithful day was billed to attend that event as scheduled, arrived the venue and moved round the VIP box to greet personalities that were already seated before his arrival.

Unfortunately, an apparently overzealous aide of Gov. Peter Obi occupied a space large enough to accommodate the two governors. This led to an argument between aides of both governors. While Gov. Okorocha’ protocol team and security detail were trying to secure a seat for him after he had felicitations with dignitaries, Gov. Obi’s protocol officer exhibited unruly behaviour as he sat tight next to Ebonyi Deputy Governor in a desperate bid to secure that particular seat for his boss who was yet to arrive the venue while Gov. Okorocha who was still standing. At last, the issue was resolved amicably and the young man vacated the seat without quarrel. In fact, Gov. Okorocha and his Anambra counterpart sat comfortably on the same seat and chatted freely as brothers while the event lasted. The issue of Gov. Okorocha raising his hand or punching the young man as portrayed in the said story could be traced to the imagination of the writer. The governor civilized  enough will not to engage such trivial act.

Therefore,  may i state emphatically as  the Governor’s media aide and a witness that at no point did Gov. Okorocha raised his hand on the young man nor any other person involved. He even opted to sit at the back before Enugu Deputy Governor who represented his boss pleaded for him to take his  rightful position as a Governor.

We therefore demand an immediate retraction of the said malicious story and apology from Punch newspapers as His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha will not hesitate to institute a legal action on the matter after a period of one week.

Ebere Uzoukwa
SA Media(Print) to the Governor