The dispute between the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and his predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim, is yet to end. The disagreement arose from Ohakim’s allegation among others, that Okorocha has not paid judges for 16 months. In Tuesday’s response by Okorocha, he made some comments to which Ohakim has again replied.
Ohakim has maintained that he has sound brain and that his demand that judges’ salaries be paid was in order. His Chief Press Secretary, Collins Ughalaa, made the clarification in a statement yesterday. He said: “Our attention has been drawn to yet another gaffe from Governor Rochas Okorocha during his panic interaction with journalists at the Government House, Owerri, on Monday, February 5, 2018.
In the briefing, Okorocha urged Ohakim to be taken to a psychiatric hospital for stating that judges are being owed salary arrears. “Ohakim maintains his statement that the judges are owed 16 months salaries. He also maintains that if by the end of March 2018, the judges are not substantially paid, he would lead a mass protest against the government, even if it means going naked on the streets of Owerri,” the statement said.He lamented the death of president of the customary court in the state, who died recently without receiving his 16 months remuneration.
Okorocha had on Tuesday replied that it is not the state, but the Federal Government’s responsibility to pay judges’ salaries. On the N7billion entitlement from court judgments that Okorocha allegedly failed to pay, Ohakim added that he stands by his word.
The ex-governor quoted an excerpt of a suit by the Owerri branch of the Nigerian Bar Association. The NBA had filed a suit against Okorocha wherein they prayed the court for: “A declaration that the respondents have no right to withhold or refuse to pay the sitting judges of Imo State High Court and judges of the Customary Court of Appeal that portion of their remuneration released to the respondents from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“It is a breach of the oath of office of the 1st respondent as the governor of Imo State, who swore to preserve, protect and not to mutilate it.’’ Ohakim accused Okorocha of deceit, having failed eight times to keep to his promise of conducting local council poll.
“This is what a people get when they inadvertently elect a dubious character into office where criminal conspiracy, abuse of office and the people, stealing, misappropriation of funds and financial rot leading to mass poverty, become state policy,” he said. He added: “Anyone who has seen the level of destruction in the state should recommend Okorocha and not Ohakim, for immediate psychiatric examination.”