CHRIS VERSUS ROCHAS: THE FINAL TRUTH

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The press has been awash with claims and counter claims between aides of Senator Chris Anyanwu and Governor RochasOkorocha, over the reported clash of their convoys along Azaraegbelu on 26th December, 2012 around 6.40pm. Either way one views each side’s claims, the matter has become too serious to be ignored, in view of its implications. Firstly, it tells much about the character of those we have charged with leadership responsibilities. Furthermore, it potentially sets a dangerous precedent if underlying issues are not decisively dealt with.

Therefore, in the maze of ongoing media propaganda, the people of the State deserve to know the truth. However, this is difficult, given the absence of concrete evidence and the fact that both personalities have some solid reputation. Never mind that some renowned writers have thrown caution and their reputation to the winds, by taking positions that are not guided by meticulous investigation and impartiality. All this while, each side has gone to great lengths to convince the world of their respective positions. A group, “Friends of Senator Chris Anyanwu” even visited the Catholic Arch Bishop Anthony Obinna, flaunting pictures of a battered driver in the Senator’s convoy, all in a bid to earn religious sympathy. Yet reactions remain divided along partisan lines as other groups have also sided with the position of the Governor’s media aides. The dilly dally have become quite disturbing because, if the truth is not unraveled the culpable one will go scot free and remain a moral burden on the polity.

So let us revisit the claims of each side and see if we can arrive at the truth by assessing their mutual positions and using some common sense of reasoning.According to Senator Chris Anyanwu, the Governor’s convoy swerved into her convoy. The Governor was also accused of personally ordering his security aides to brutalize the driver of the opposing convoy, following which she disembarked from her vehicle to intervene to save her screaming driver. On the other hand, the Governor’s Media aide, EbereUzoukwa stated that the Senator compromised the security of his boss by breaching the convoy. He also accused her of goingberserk slapping the ADC and Chief Detail with her shoes.

However, I have reason to question some of the positions of both sides.EbereUzoukwa, said that the Governor’s aides exhibited professionalism, decency and maturity in handling of the Senator’s security aides. That is doubtful on account of the purported picture depicting the injury on the driver’s head. The claim that the Senator ordered her Naval personnel to open fire on the Governor’s convoy is also vague. This is because she must be a deranged woman to order an attack against an overwhelmingly superior firepower such as possessed by the Governor’s retinue of SSS, ATS and MOPOL units.

On the other hand, the positions of Senator Chris Anyanwuare even fuller of holes, some of which makes her actions on the day highly questionable. Firstly, the Senator confirmed that on her way from a function she observed an intimidating convoy bearing down on her convoy and she never knew it was the Governor’s convoy. How could she not know even with the flag being flown on the Governor’s car? Besides, all who are well known to the Governor are already used to the nature of his convoy. For her to observe that the convoy bearing down was intimidating, suggests she took time to note the composition of the convoy. Question is: How was a convoy behind her convoy suddenly able to stop her convoy and confront her security aides. She claimed that her convoy cleared from the path but the Governor’s convoy, rather just pass, forced her convoy to stop prior to the alleged brutality. However, how rationale is that? Senator Chris is not high in the pecking order of the Governor’s opponents. She is in the same Party for Christ’s sake and falls way behind IkediOhakim, Hope Uzodinma, EmekaIhedioha and at least four others, as long as opposition is concerned. These men’s convoys have never had issues with the Governor’s convoy despite crossing paths on some occasions, as I learnt. In fact, the Senator confirmed herself that the relationship with the Governor was not that bad given that she just visited the government house on the same day in the morning, to ascertain ways of playing a role at the wedding of the Governor’s daughter. For whatever his weakness might be, the Imo State Governor has never been known for violence even if one may question his governance style. So something else happened at that point where the Governor’s convoy reached the Senator’s convoy. What was it?

The Senator also claimed that they dragged her driver into the bush to shoot him, which prompted her to come down and shout that their actions were ungodly and barbaric. The question is: if they actually dragged the driver to the bush to shoot him, what stopped them? What made them to change their mind? Definitely, it was not her security aides because they must have been overwhelmed already by the superior firepower against them. Was it in respect to the Senator? Apparently not! Did the Governor order them to stop? The Senator’s stand does not attest to this. Also, she appeared not to have been molested by the Governor’s security aides. How come? I sense some form of restraint here.

EbereUzoukwa claimed the Senator came down and pulled her shoes to slap the Chief Detail and ADC but Senator Chris claimed that though she came down, she never attacked anyone. The common agreement here is that she actually came down. There is also the mutual understanding on both sides that while she came down, she was never molested. This clearly suggests that any anger on the scene was between the security aides of both leaders. It further suggests that whatever actions that led to the altercation must have originated from security aides. However, the question must be asked that, when she came down, who did she approach? The Governor?The ADC? Chief Detail? Who? Again, why was one of her drivers the primary target of the alleged attack by the Governor’s men? Was there any action of the driver that must have infuriated the security aides of the Governor? Is there any connection between this attack and the claim by EbereUzoukwa that the Governor’s convoy movement was breached by the Senator’s drivers, with the Governor’s staff car being separated from his Pilot vehicle? Was the brutalized driver the one that committed the said security breach that cut off the pilot vehicle, exposing the Governor? When one reflects on these questions based on common sense, a clear perspective of this incident starts to emerge.

One is also curious about another claim made by the Senator that each time she attends functions in the State she is harassed, intimidated and often excluded from the protocol list. Recently, aides of the Governor have been at daggers drawn with some leaders including Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu but at the recent wedding, the political colossus was given his pride of place at the ceremony despite his opposing positions with the Governor. So is the Senator really stating the fact or has she commenced a media war against the Governor, using the same network she used to campaign for him during the 2011 elections? Time will tell. Presently, we can reach certain conclusive deductions on what transpired along Azaraegbelu.

It is clear that each side have tried to blow their strong positions out of proportions to achieve the maximum vitriolic effect against the other. However, the truth is that, by standard security protocols in this country, the Governor’s convoy is not supposed to face any obstruction on the road even from the convoy of any other VIP below him on protocol listing. The path must always be clear for the movement of Presidents and Governors. Nothing must obstruct their smooth movement, as that could pose major security risks to their safety. Accordingly, protective units are trained always, oriented to maintain zero tolerance against encroaches intoconvoys, especially in view of contemporary security threats. In Abuja, we have had similar cases of supposed aggression by convoy personnel. In June, 2012 there was reported confusion caused when the convoy of the Vice President, who was absent, drove against traffic, unfortunately causing commotion and head-on collision between two vehicles. In July, 2012, still in Abuja, a driver of articulated vehicle, Rabiu Sambo was charged to Magistrate court and found guilty of obstructing a Presidential convoy. He was however discharged having pleaded guilty and was warned to be of good behavior. These unfortunate developments are not the objective of convoy movements but they are inevitable sacrifices in ensuring VIP/State security.

My final conclusion on this sordid affair is that the security aides of the Governor may have over-reacted in a zealous bid to prove their alertness and gallantry, but there was clearly a case of provocation on the part of the Senator’s convoy, which involved the manner in which they must have driven when the Governor’s convoy attempted to overtake them/him. I suspect there was a form of resistance by some of her drivers, which disrupted the cohesion of the Governor’s convoy and created a sort of breach. This explains why the driver suffered the brunt of the security men’s assault. Accordingly, one might not say much in terms of cautioning the security operatives of the Imo State Governor, until one really confirms the level of provocation meted to them, especially as there were claims that one of the Naval personnel escorting the Senator, corked and weaved his rifle, which given the proximity of the Governor’s vehicle is undoubtedly a threat to his life.

This is a dangerous development, which should not be allowed to pass by without proper investigation to forestall recurrences in the future. Convoy movement is a sensitive matter, not just for Governors. Where it to be at a place like Maiduguri, the case would have been totally different, as the Senator’s convoy would have been attacked, immediately their driver made any funny moves in breach of the Governor’s movement. So it is imperative that the Office of the National Security Adviser compel the security agencies to conduct a thorough investigation, designed to guide the proper sensitization on convoy security. We have had enough of the partisan contributions to the saga. It is time to examine the lessons to be learnt and assume positionsthat will augur well for our collective security and peace of the polity.

Chris IkediDurueke, a  security consultant writes from Abuja

 

By Ikedi  Chris Durueke, (0874428237