Israelmore Ayivor once remarked that “Everyone born is on the field of life’s game, but not everyone does wear the jersey of vision! Some people are fair players and others are injury causers; you joke with the later and they hit you down in pain and blood stains!” In similar way, not everyone in leadership or auspicious living condition feels the same pains and sufferings of others, as there are sympathizers as there are sadists. Sadists hardly know bounds for ejections and relegations, and thus throw many into anguish without qualms of conscience. They are characteristically aggressive when confronted and often resort in self-defense on insinuations that allege impinged hardships on others. Most times, they deny their overt malicious social dispositions to others, and resort in linguistic coverage. Yet, nuances in terms, are meant for clarifications of realities.
More than fifty percent of English words have nuances, and have thus different meanings, and the word “imprisonment” is one of such concepts. Imprisonment is commonly seen as the act of locking somebody up in prison or in a confinement, an unwanted restraint given to a person as punishment for a crime or while awaiting trial. Linguistically, imprisonment is synonymous with confinement, and entails the state of restricting or limiting someone within the boundaries or scope of something. In this backdrop, both imprisonment and confinement entail locking up, locking away or being put inside a restricted state that discomforts.
Given the above differences in meaning, it is obvious that there are different perspectives for the word imprisonment, and thus different ways of imprisoning somebody. It is on this note that I wish to reply Sam Onwuemeodo, who a fortnight ago, asked Archbishop AJV Obinna to name one person Governor Okorocha has imprisoned in the State.
My answer to Sam Onwuemeodo is that those Rochas imprisoned in Imo State are innumerable, and he knows them, and better than his Chief Press Secretary, who acts as a good soldier of a bad commander, doomed to die at his post. A career civil servant can be imprisoned by the government, as it puts embargo on promotions. Such employees will end their service years without climbing the ladder of career advancement and the benefits promotions import to their wellbeing during and after service.
Artisans in popular workshops could be imprisoned if the leadership of the local society evicts them or enforced demolition of their structures and workshops. It imprisons them in triadic manners. First, it destroys their commercial abode and thus renders both the artisans and the serviced-community stranded. Again, it renders them financially incapacitated. Finally, such act culminates in destroying the economic structure of the community, as the booming population that brings development and thriving market vanishes.
Traders and marketers could be imprisoned too. Markets in Africa and especially in Nigeria are so perceived as business and hustling that wherever buying and selling thrive, good market starts and one ogles the other, and these give rise to unauthorised markets and shanties, which generate revenues and provide self-employment opportunities. There are also aged popular markets, which societal development and the imperatives that teaming population density compels on demands and supply, make for extensions beyond the initial confines of the aged markets. Traders in this sort of commercial zone could be also imprisonment by the government, when they are displaced or evicted from such booming markets, without priory preparing overwhelming accommodating market structures for them. Their goods will spoil, profit-making, supply and distribution will be locked up, and thus means of livelihood impaired. This too is imprisonment.
Motorists, passengers, commuters, freights, and product distributors could also be imprisoned by a government. When a government brings a nice transportation policy that needs long term planning and implementation programme, and enforces the programme on transporters without providing at least 70% alternative or implementation coverage, the transport-chain will be frustrated and this in turn heaps untold hardship in the society. Both transporters and commuters are filed in frustrated lock-away, and thus put inside restricted states that frustrate income and turnovers. Passengers get stranded on the road, with diverse hardships and problems they fall into on the road, while reaching work place and on reaching their homes. Traders are locked away too, from smooth market chain for adequate demand, supply and distribution of products and services. This amount to imprisonment too.
Retirees can also be imprisoned also by a government. When workers are owed advanced salaries that run into three, four months unpaid and within the debt duration, the worker is retired, there is no prison greater than that. First, the worker might have run some debts that need the indebted salaries for freedom. Second, the worker retires into the league of non-payment of pensions and gratuity. Third, one whose regularly salary is not enough for family needs, would certainly be in soup when retired, and in a hotter one, when the pension and gratuity will run six years before it comes. Such retirees a vulnerable to sickness without fund for medical services, and are locked up in poverty’s guard room, where they are compelled to languish and perish in penury, and deprived of the possibilities of getting the basic necessities of life. These too have converse and ripple effects on their families and the general society at large, and they are more dangerous than Kuje prisons.
Land owners, landlords and tenants could also be imprisoned by a despotic government, when the government vests aversions for empty lands (as land-banks), undeveloped landed properties, and embarks on unjustified demolitions of peoples residential buildings, evicting people who have no economic buoyancy to afford new abodes. Landlords are locked away from rent generation and what that affords them for life sustenance. Tenants are locked away in multitude, in searching of the scarce rooms to let, and when they find such, funds for their acquirement are problem and thus such fellows are thrown into confusion.
Youths can be imprisoned by the government of the day. When there are no employments in the society, when industrialists and investors are scared away by taxation policies from the government, as well as poor provision of good road-networks and electricity, prison is imminent for the entire youths in the area. The youths learn trades, arts, and graduate from schools without accommodating platforms that can engulf them into usefulness for themselves and the society at large; they are stranded, and imprisoned into hopeless manner of living and survival. This condition is worse when they have jobs and are illegally relieved of their jobs because of power tussles between preceding and incumbent government and their policies.
Sequel to the above, I make bold to ask, is there any form of imprisonment greater than the one meted on Emma Odo, whose house was demolished, and Governor Okorocha gave it to one of his brothers as car lodge, though the matter is still in court? To evict and demolish such property and give it to one’s personal brother for business, is it not confinement? Imo pensioners are languishing in penury for non-payment of pensions and gratuities, most of them die of sickness that just half of their monthly pensions could be used to keep them healthy and alive. Is there any form of prison greater than this one meted on the senior citizens of Imo State?
The demolition of Eke Ukwu Owerri, the losses culminating in billions of Naira, the societal unrest that it cost, and the death of the innocent small boy, Somtochukwu, is there any form of imprisonment greater than that? The innocent boy put to untimely death, is he not imprisoned in the highest prison in existence? If Governor Okorocha was shot dead as a child like Somtoo, would he have ruled Imo today? The case of Athan Ogoh, is there any sort of prison unparallel to that? Yes, Hon. Athan has gone through hell in the hands of Gov.Rochas. The Governor forcefully took his land and thought it was going to be easy with him. Hon. Athan recovered his land through the court and Gov. Rochas refused to pay compensation as he took Chief Athan to the Supreme Court using private legal practitioner. Hon. Athan refused to be imprisoned by Gov. Rochas as he has given him a serious legal fight.
The demolition of Orji mechanic village and artisans workshops in various parts of the State, which destroyed the voting strength of the area, and similar evictions and demolitions in various parts of the State, are they not imprisonment?
It may be true that Governor Rochas Okorocha might have not imprisoned anybody physically, but his actions and policies have done so, and these are the children of Archbishop AJV Obinna, who is the apex spiritual father of the State, given his status, area of influence, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and percentage of Imolites under his sheepfold. Why won’t the Arch Bishop talk?
I would conclude this response by reminding Governor Okorocha who is like the father of Imo State, as well as his government, what Lao Tzu said, “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”