As a governor of Imo State from 2007 to 2011, Ikedi Ohakim was not a stranger to allegations of scandals. Aside the arguable claim that his performance in office was woeful, one of those scandals – an allegation that he or his aides stripped and flogged a Catholic Priest was responsible for his inability to get a second term.
According to the report which first went viral on the social media and later on the mainstream media, on Sunday, August 8, 2010, the Catholic Priest- Rev. Father Eustace Okorie was beaten up after he was arrested by Ohakim’s security aides for blocking the governor’s convoy.
Ohakim denied the story, but his opponent latched on to it to campaign against him to stop his reelection.
One of those at the vanguard of spreading the allegation, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka later recanted years after Ohakim had left office, describing the claim that the Governor beat up a Catholic Priest as a lie. But that was not the only allegation against Ohakim.
In an interview in 2014, the former governor said more than 1,000 petitions against him were pending before he left office. “I need to tell you that no single charge has been filed against me in any court of law in or outside Nigeria. So, all the fake accusations have been thrown into the waste paper basket,” the former Governor said. But outside the Imo State Governor’s Office, Ohakim has also not been free of allegations that can be considered scandalous.
The latest of such allegations was by one Mrs. Chinyere Amuchinwa, a businesswoman who accused the former governor of defrauding him of over N500 million.
There were reports that the lady and the former governor were lovers.
But after a flurry of salacious publications, accusation and counter accusation in the media over the alleged fraud, Amuchinwa’s lawyer, Mr Ifeanyichukwu Obasi-Nweze, some weeks ago petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu and the Department of State Services (DSS), enumerating details of how the former governor obtained money from her client under false pretence.
In the petition, the lady also accused Ohakim of threatening her life.
Narrating the process leading to the alleged fraud incident, the businesswoman claimed that she came into contact with the former governor in her hometown Arondizuogu, Imo State, at a funeral ceremony and they later met at his home in Lagos.
At the meeting, Amuchinwa said Ohakim told her that he had land for sale and went ahead to show her a large expanse of land in Lagos-spanning from the Ikeja Airport to the filling station along Ikeja Airport road.
The lawyer said, “He purportedly made phone calls to the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola, whom he claimed was negotiating to repurchase the land from him when he was governor of Imo State.
“After showing the client the said land, Ikedi Ohakim started demanding money in bits from our client. On some of the days, Ikedi Ohakim pretended to be talking to somebody regarding funds he was expecting, only to revert to our client to request for more monies with a promise that once he concluded the sale of the land in question, he would reimburse our client.
“On one of the occasions, Ikedi Ohakim pretended to be talking to somebody in Dubai about funds the person was to send to him; he then told the person to be careful because the authorities were monitoring funds from abroad.”
The lawyer said his client later released a total sum of N500 million in cash and goods to Ohakim out of conviction that he is buying a land from him, but the former Governor failed to provide the land in question.
But in response to the petition, Emmanuel Chukwu, a political adviser to Ohakim had told a national newspaper that the allegations were ‘laughable’. “The allegations are, to say the least, most ludicrous and laughable. They all together constitute an elaborate and audacious scheme by Ms Amuchinwa to blackmail, extort and otherwise defame the person of Dr Ohakim,” he said.
Nevertheless, reports indicate that Ohakim was arrested based on the petition and was later released on bail by the Police.
Now, the former Governor may now have to prove that he is indeed innocent of the allegation in court with a criminal charge filed against him based on the petition before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja by the Police.
In the charge filed on 23 September, 2020, the Police accused Ohakim of using the name of the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians.
In addition, the Police alleged that Ohakim claimed in his statement to the police that he gave Amuchienwa N100 million for his governorship election in 2019, which he could not prove in the statement.
The three-count charge against Ohakim was signed by one Stanley Nwodo stated thus: “That you Ikedi Ohakim on or about the 23rd day of May 2019 at Asokoro, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did unlawfully gave false information against one Chinyere Amuchienwa that she threatened you with gun knowing it to be false and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law of the Northern Nigeria, 1968.
”That you Ikedi Ohakim on or about the 23rd day of May 2019, at Asokoro, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did unlawfully gave false information against one Chinyere Amuchienwa, that you have a plot of land for sale at Lagos state, knowing it to be false and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law of the Northern Nigeria, 1968.
“That you Ikedi Ohakim on or about the 23rd day of May 2019 at Asokoro, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did unlawfully used derogatorily the name of Raji Fashola as the owner of the purported land situated at Ikeja, Lagos state and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law of the Northern Nigeria, 1968.”
Ohakim will be hoping that just like the previous allegations against him, this will also come to naught.