There was a mild drama inside the business class section of Air Peace at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri on Sunday, as the former chairman of the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, attacked ex-Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Eyewitnesses said Ilomuanya, who was calmly seated before Okorocha’s arrival, suddenly charged at the senator representing Imo West when he entered the plane and attacked him with his walking stick.
It was gathered that Ilomuanya may be angry over his dethronement as the Imo Council of Traditional Rulers Chairman by Okorocha.
Senator Okorocha had dethroned Ilomunaya in 2011 shortly after he assumed office as the governor.
The case moved from the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal Court to the Supreme Court.
Speaking in an interview with the Guardian in 2017, Ilomunaya had accused Okorocha of been vindictive over a political decision the traditional rulers made before he assumed office.
He said: “I must confess I have no personal problems with Governor Rochas Okorocha. I have no other option than to honour and respect his person and office. This I have always done, despite his calculated attempts to dishonour me.
“But what I oppose in all ramifications is Governor Okoracha’s dictatorial tendencies. He is playing the god in Imo. This is not good for our people. It is also not good for the image of Imo State.”
On Sunday, the monarch attempted to fight the ex-governor over his alleged humiliation by Okorocha during his tenure.
What started as a little joke, suddenly snowballed into a full-fledged confrontation inside the aircraft, as the monarch allegedly descended on Okorocha with his walking stick and shouted at him to stay away from him and Orlu people.
It took the timely intervention of the flight captain and other attendants on board, who rushed in and stopped Ilomuanya from further hitting Okorocha with his walking stick, to douse the tension.
Okorocha, who was said to have maintained calmness, was said to have been immediately relocated to another seat, even as Ilomuanya was heard warning him to stay away from Orlu Senatorial District if he truly wanted peace to reign.
Ilomuanya is one of the two monarchs dethroned by Okorocha on June 6, 2014. He was earlier removed as the chairman of the state Council of Traditional Rulers.
He was, however, reinstated as the traditional ruler by former Governor Emeka Ihedioha, who said the reinstatement was based on a legal advice.
The monarch could not be reached for more explanations on what triggered his actions.
Reacting to the incident, Okorocha, through his media adviser, Sam Onwuemeodo, described Ilomuanya’s assault on him as “disgraceful, unfortunate, condemnable, embarrassing, ungodly, indecent and unexpected from someone who had led the state Council of Traditional Rulers.
Onwuemeodo, who issued a statement following the trending of the incident on the social media, said the monarch’s action was propelled by his desire to return as the chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers.
According to the statement, people like Ilomuanya “have told themselves that the easiest way or method to adopt to achieve their aims or ambitions will be to insult or attack Okorocha, leveraging on the hostility of the government in the state now, against Okorocha and his family.
“If Senator Okorocha saw his brother, llomuanya and chose to sit close to him, that action should be highly commended and applauded. It showed that Okorocha had behaved not only as a Christian, but also as a statesman. It showed that he had nothing personal against llomuanya.
“Again, if llomuanya could confront Okorocha to the extent of hitting him with his walking stick and Okorocha did not retaliate but hastily relocated to another seat, we will only say that Okorocha has acquitted himself very well as a two term former of Imo State governor and now a sitting senator and a worthy ambassador of the state and the nation. He has shown character worthy of emulation.”