Chief Nkem Okwuofu, a staunch Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader in Aniocha North local government area of Delta state, has strongly condemned attempts to link her to the recent alleged assassination plot on the Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Onyekachi Ochei, during a consultation meeting with party faithful in Obomkpa town, on Friday Nov 1, 2013, insisting that “He (Ochei) remains my son yesterday, today and forever”.
Chief Okwuofu, who made this declaration, while addressing newsmen at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Secretariat in Asaba on Wednesday November 6, 2013, said that it had become imperative for her to clear the air on the matter, especially against the backdrop of her recent interrogation by the Delta State Police Command in connection with the incident and the widespread speculations that she may have been fingered in the plot to assassinate the Speaker.
Okwuofu, who is also the Chairman of the Delta State Local Government Service Commission, also dismissed allegations that she was not in good terms with Speaker Ochei, adding that she had no reason to disagree with the Speaker because “He is my son”.
“The Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Onyekachi Ochei is my political son and I have supported him since he ventured into politics. I have no reason to harm him. Onicha-Olona where he is from is next door to Obomkpa and he is always at home when he is in Obomkpa so why should I want to harm him?” She asked.
She equally exonerated the ‘good and peace loving people of Obomkpa’ from the alleged assassination plot and called on the police to carry out a thorough investigation and ensure that they unravel the facts surrounding the incident.
The political chieftain said that although she had disagreements with Hon. Ochei over certain political decisions in the past in Aniocha North, she had since confronted Ochei personally and eventually accepted the reasons given by him for the decisions.
A political source told Blank NEWS Online that the Ochei had infringed on Okwuofu’s political leadership in Obomkpa Ward 3, where she was the erstwhile political leader before Rt. Hon Ochei allegedly dissolved her executive council without informing her, but rather than quarrelling about the undermining of her authority in her own domain, she had instead sought clarification on the matter from Ochei himself and had subsequently accepted the reasons given by Ochei for the decision.
She disclosed that Speaker Ochei had not informed her of the November 1 meeting which had been scheduled in Obomkpa and when her people had consulted her on what line of action to take, she had advised them to boycott the meeting.
“I told them that on that day, they should go to their farms and markets or stay at home if they had nowhere else to go. They should not attend the event. Even I did not attend the event so I wonder how I could be associated with what happened on that day. I even called Speaker Ochei and told him not to proceed with the event”.
Responding to the allegations that the main suspect arrested by the police in connection with the incident was her relative, Chief Okwuofu confirmed that she met the suspect whom she referred to simply as ‘Oyibo’ for the first time over ten years ago when was the Delta state Commissioner for Culture and tourism and he had been introduced to her as a kinsman who needed employment.
She had then employed him, but had subsequently discovered that he was a miscreant and never-do-well who was giving her and her Ministry a bad name, so she had promptly dismissed him after a while and that was the last she had seen or heard from him, adding that she did not know what became of him afterwards and had never intervened on anybody’s behalf who was involved in any case of kidnapping.
Chief Okwuofu also dismissed the notion that what had exploded during the Obomkpa meeting was a bomb, saying that it has now been proven beyond doubt that the explosion was caused by a traditional cannon.
“Events have already overtaken the question whether what exploded in Obomkpa was a bomb or cannon and even news and other reports have confirmed that the explosion was caused by traditional cannon. It is a well known tradition amongst our people to fire the traditional cannon as a mark of respect whenever a big ceremony or a big personality visits a community. The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei is a big personality so it is only customary that the cannon should be fired to honnour him and recognize his presence. It is sad that the cannon had accidentally exploded and caused causalities.”
Okwuofu equally debunked allegations that the re-awarding of a major road contract in Obomkpa was at the reason for her present frosty relationship with Speaker Ochei noted that she had been instrumental in putting the construction of the road into the budget, but the delay in the completion of the road for over a very long time now, especially the Obomkpa stretch, has caused her great personal and political embarrassment and led to accusations that she had misappropriated and diverted the funds meant for the job to her own personal use.
“I was instrumental in putting that road in the budget and it will be the crowning glory of my political career to see the road completed when I am still alive. That road is the major reason why I am in politics and why I am a political leader of my people. I have been insulted and embarrassed by my own people who feel that I have collected and eaten the money meant for the road. Even when my car is stuck in the mud on that road, people will boo me and refuse to come and help me because they think I have collected and eaten the money and am the one responsible for why the road is yet to be completed. So tell me why I should not be happy if the contract has now been re-awarded and the road is completed as soon as possible?
“I have not allowed the Commissioner for Works, Solomon Funkekeme to rest with telephone calls day and night on the matter of that road, to the extent that anytime I call him now he will immediately tell me that he knows it is because of the road even before I say anything. So why should I quarrel with anyone because the road was re-awarded and will now be completed? That road is my legacy project and I will do everything to make sure it is completed now that I am still in politically active”.
While dismissing claims that she is supporting a particular Anioma candidate, a Senator, for the 2015 governorship election in Delta State, Chief Nkem Okwuofu was quick to point that it was still premature for to declare her support for anybody at this time and those accusing her of supporting any particular individual were only being mischievous.
“There are so far about nine (9) aspirants from Delta North, who are said to be nursing the intention to contest the 2015 governorship and all of them from across the whole of Anioma are my sons. Ochei is also my son just like all the other aspirants mentioned. I have nurtured all of them politically, even those from outside Delta North and it is not for nothing that I am called MOG (Mother of governors).
“So it is too early to start saying that I am supporting this person or that person. And by the way, have you seen me campaigning for any aspirant, whether in the newspapers or television? It is too early to start supporting any aspirant for 2015 now”.
Okwuofu was interrogated on Wednesday, September 06, 2013 by the police over the recent cannon blast which allegedly targeted the Speaker Ochei.
The Delta State Police Command through its spokesperson, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Lucky Uyabeme confirmed the development.