By Lancelot Obiaku
On Wednesday February 10, 2021, a publication on Facebook by one Collins Opurozor raised the false alarm that Mr. Precious Nwadike, the Publisher of Nigerian Watchdog Newspapers, based in Owerri, was beaten to stupor by Mr. Uche Uzodimma, a brother to the Governor of Imo State. The false report added that Mr. Uzodimma went further to order thugs to manhandle Nwadike. The report went viral, no doubt, and was published by several online platforms. The false story was also feasted on by some newspapers in Owerri. I understand some of the newspapers did not believe the story but had to publish it in solidarity with their friend and colleague. But that is one of the foibles of the journalism profession. Some journalists now place friendship over objective and professional reportage. And this days, many people refuse to believe some sensitive reports in the media without carrying out independent investigation.
Some journalists are living true to type as far as this false report is concerned. They feast on negative stories, especially stories that concern top politicians and their families. They have over the years displayed dislkike for investiative journalism. No wonder no journalist submitted entry for Investigative Journalism in the just concluded maiden Governor Hope Uzodimma Media Merit Award. However, the originator and peddler of the false report, Collins Opurozor, a graduate of Political Science, has tried his hands on propaganda and blackmail over the years. He is Nwadike’s bosom friend. They were part of the team that destroyed Orluzurumee Youths Association, and no wonder they say that birds of same plumage flock together.
Having known that some reporters delight in taking any story they see, I embarked upon independent investigation after reading Mr. Nwadike’s account of what he claimed transpired between him and Mr. Uzodimma. I said to myself that should I find out that the Governor’s brother actually assaulted him, I would, like many have done, write to condemn his action. I reached out to the man accused of brutalizing Nwadike. He said that he was on Port Harcourt Road on Tuesday evening where he supervised the ongoing reconstruction of the said road, just close to the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) office, when Nwadike, driving in his own vehicle, had disagreement with labourers at the site. The workmen had directed Mr. Nwadike to reverse and use an alternative route as asphalt laying was ongoing at the time and he had already driven his vehicle beyond the caution tape placed around the newly asphalted portions of the road to prevent motorists from having an impact on them.
Mr. Uzodimma said that after Nwadike reversed his vehicle, he pulled over by the roadside before walking up to him and the contractor, Mr. Nnadozie Uwajumogu, whom he (Mr. Uzodimma) was interacting with, and complained that the labourers insulted him and called his vehicle rickety car, and that he could take insults from the labourers but could not accept Mr. Uzodimma standing there with the contractor and watched the labourers call his vehicle rickety.
Uche Uzodimma stated that it was at this point that he found out from Nwadike that he was headed for the OCDA. According to him, he told Nwadike that he could have simply pulled his vehicle over by the other side of the road and walked into OCDA without exchanging words with the labourers. Eyewitnesses, especially staff of the OCDA, said that Mr. Nwadike walked peacefully into the OCDA complex moments before he (Mr. Uzodimma) drove home and that nobody touched him, talk more of beating him to unconsciousness. One of the staff OCDA at the NIN department who knows Nwadike said that he walked into their office at 5:10pm on Tuesday hail and hearty and was attended to. He added that he overhead Nwadike telling another staff that he intended to travel to Lagos the following day and needed to complete the NIN enrollment as it would be useful to him in Lagos. This account questions Nwadike’s account about that imaginary incident, and I want to know when Mr. Nwadike did his NIN enrollment. Was he enrolled while in a state of stupor?
Nwadike had said: “On getting to OCDA office, a man hit on our car bonnet and asked us to reverse. At first, I thought it was one of those thugs around OCDA office. It was when the other person who was flanked by two policemen instructed us to reverse the vehicle, introducing himself as the contractor of the Port-harcourt Road project, that I realized that they were renovating the road and I obeyed even when I didn’t know their reason for ordering us back. It was later discovered that the said contractor is actually Senator Hope Uzodinma’s brother, Mr. Uche Uzodinma. While I tried to park, the same man began to deride me, describing our vehicle as rickety, threatening to deal mercilessly with us if we wait any further.
“We eventually parked across OCDA and attempted to cross over the other lane, when the same man who threatened to deal with us held me back and started beating me. Thereafter, he ordered some thugs who were with him to deal with me. He stood by to watch his thugs beat me to stupor. I lost consciousness when one of them hit me on the back of my neck”.
The above account by Nwadike showed that he was allegedly brutalized before he made his way into OCDA. Yet he went on and got enrolled for NIN. That is to say that after he must have been mob-beaten to unconsciousness as he alleged, he ordinarily couldn’t have proceeded for the data capturing at OCDA. In such circumstance, the hospital ought to have been his destination. But contrary to this, a staff member at OCDA said Mr. Nwadike walked into the office unscratched and unscathed, and successfully enrolled for NIN. This raises a lot question for Mr. Nwadike.
The first is: Why would a man beaten to stupor be bandaged? Medical doctors say bandaging is not the right procedure to reviving a man who is in a state of stupor. Another question is this: why was Nwadike sitting on a chair in the hospital when he was being bandaged, because a man in a state of stupor would not have the strength to sit for the long time it would take to do all the bandaging that was done on him? Again, why was a nurse attending to a man in a state of stupor and not a medical doctor? Another question: when Nwadike said he was flown to Lagos because his condition deteriorated, on what medical report was he flown to Lagos? What does the referal document to Lagos say? Is there any x-ray report?
Which hospital treated Nwadike in Lagos and Owerri? Where is a picture of Nwadike in a hospital in Lagos? Where is a picture of Nwadike fighting for his life in Lagos? And by the way, why has Nwadike not reported to the police, that he was attacked to stupor by certain persons? You see, until answers are provided to these questions, Nwadike should rather continue to search his conscience.
Nwadike has a rich history of blackmailing people in authority. He blacksmails Vice Chancellors, Rectors, Provosts, Commissioners, House of Assembly members, Speakers, Governors, Deputy Governors, name it. That is how his newspaper thrives, and that is how he feeds. Take away blackmailing and you see Nwadike no more. I don’t want to continue raising posers for Nwadike, but let me add this: why would someone, a newspaper publisher, be unruly? Is it because he could blackmail people using his newspaper and his colleagues and friends would back him? Why does he rejoice in unruly conducts? Why would Nwadike drive against traffick, refuse to take alternative routes like others and then proceed to cut the caution tape on a construction site? What sort of impunity was that! Why would Nwadike walk up to someone who was having a discussion with someone else, interrupt the discussion and we say it’s all okay because he is Precious Nwadike? What the heck about calling anyone’s car rickety (if that happened)? Have we not heard worse things than that in traffick, and often times those who say it don’t mean it?
The only reason Nwadike could behave the way he did is because he is driven by blackmail. Otherwise, why would he make a big issue out of what ordinarily is nothing? And some people clap for him? Nwadike does not have self control. He is a loose canon. That is why he thinks he can blackmail anyone. He is not disciplined. Not at all. And of course, he deliberately wanted to drag the name of the Governor into the false narrative so as to malign a government that is doing well. And by the way, how does what happened at Port-harcourt Road translate to Nwadike being beaten to stupor because of his claimed critical position on the State Government? The answer is blackmail. He believes in blackmail and thrives in blackmail.
From Nwadike’s account, he didn’t know the Governor’s brother, Uche. He got to know him at the point and pushed his luck at his game, which is blackmail. This was also why he claimed he was battered for his critical views on the Governor and his Government. This was why he tried to link the Government to his falsehood.
The fact I established is that Nwadike was enrolled for NIN at OCDA. He was not bleeding. He was not unconscious and had no bruises at the time he was captured for the NIN. Nwadike was only desperate to rope in the Governor’s brother, hence the Nollywood-like bandages to curry sympathy from the public and/or blackmail Mr. Uche Uzodimma. Also, Nwadike, knowing himself as a media practitioner, decided to play the victim’s card, cash in on the little disagreement for publicity purposes, knowing that many would fall for it and lash out at the Government without interrogating the issue. Again, Nwadike was trying to reenact the infamous case of Ikedi Ohakim and the Catholic priest, Rev. Father Eustace Okere, on August 8, 2010. But today, the whole wold knows that that story is false, same way Nwadike’s alarm is false.