As the battle to replace Rochas Okorocha as governor of Imo State in 2019 heats up, the truth has become the first casualty. Okorocha has endorsed his son-in-law and chief of staff, Uche Nwosu, as his replacement – much to the chagrin of many in the state including the influential Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Anthony Obinna.
Obinna has been one of the fiercest critics of Okorocha’s misrule, so it shocked many observers when a newspaper reported yesterday that the senior clergyman has endorsed Nwosu and asked people to vote for their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
As several Nigerians on social media were quick to allege that Obinna’s palms must have been greased for him to make such an incredible U-turn, Naijiant.com chose to investigate the matter further because this was conduct unbecoming of the archbishop and had a whiff of fake news about it. A Reverend Father who was at the mass on Friday responded to our enquiries with the following account of what transpired:
It will be a sin on my part as a devout catholic if i fail to put the record straight on this white lies here. Firstly this is not the cloth Uche Nwosu wore on the picture posted here and he was never near the altar to talk of being given any reading. The mass started by 10:15am with the Arch Bishop AJV Obinna who was the chief celebrant apologising to us the congregation for starting the mass late as it ought to have started by 9am. Secondly, he told the congregation who already what week was all about as the events started on Tuesday till Friday that he invited some people specially and many have responded and anybody that come late must stay outside no matter whom the person is and when he/she eventually comes must stay at the back seat not in front and he formally started the mass.
I was seating at the Assumpta wing and eventually Uche Nwosu came late with his team and wanted to enter but was not allowed in until the homily was over. And when they finally entered they wanted to join the priests that that were sitting in a row in that Assumpta wing, but they were prevented and they have to sit on the next row and some of them behind the priest. And when the event started proper, the Arch Bishop asked everybody with his/her PVC to stand up including the priests to stand up and urged those that have not to go and obtain theirs as he stated that what will happen in 2019 will be greater than what happened in 2011 that brought in Rochas.
After that he told Uche Nwosu who had moved from back where he was sitting to the front seat that he is still a small boy to govern the state and that Rochas has succeeded in putting him into trouble and if he were him he will not accept to run. He further said that the endorsement by Rochas is personal as he lacks the capacity to decide who governs the state as people are dying of hunger currently among other ills. He also talked about the Assumpta Avenue which Rochas changed to Buhari Road as the first person that wanted to do that was James Anieke the former military administrator who wanted to change it to Zik Road but resisted it as well and he warned that this should be the last time any governor will try that. Uche Nwosu fought to be given the chance to speak but the Arch Bishop did not allow any guest to speak hence he said anybody with his donation should do that through the MC and Senator [Ifeanyi] Ararume through his representative donated #1m followed by [Senator] Sam Daddy [Anyanwu] who was in attendance also donated #1m cash and at this point Uche Nwosu had no option than to make a pledge of #3m among others that donated. After the mass Uche Nwosu pleaded to see the Arch Bishop AJV Obinna who took him in and closed the door behind his team that wanted to enter with him. And two of them Arch Bishop AJV Obinna and Uche Nwosu stayed for some minutes and only two of them and God can tell what they discussed. This is an eyewitness account as I was there because I led my church to the event on Friday 23rd march 2018 and I saw it to this end.