By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD.
The Peoples President ,and Presidential candidate of Labour Party , LP, Mr Peter Obi spoke this morning, Monday 13th March, 2023, and as at 9 pm I am penning this down, it’s still reverberating all over the world. That was President like. Even at the highest height of provocation, he maintained his cool, in anticipation that the Judiciary shall redeem the mess from the INEC led by Prof Mahmood Yakubu. If at all Yakubu admits ,he messed up.
There are so many things to write on but where do I start. In the last one year , I have need to speak with Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo on so many things going wrong. Other journalists too wish to have an opportunity to speak to him one on one, but he wasn’t bulging. Either journalists have wronged him collectively or he is uninterested. I was told, he doesn’t like Journalists but Soludo tv team…an online team eulogizing him. At a time, Press Corps constantly following him about complained to me that he doesn’t value their services and that he hasn’t appreciated them one bit. Correspondents are complaining on his attitude to core media men in the state. At Nigeria Union of Journalists, we aren’t complaining because we can’t change his mindset about what he has concluded about media practitioners particularlyunder my watch as the chairman. We are just watching. We aren’t talking. We shall continue to watch but anyday we started talking, we may never stop talking.
Petitions on my table in the past one year are overwhelming. So many have accused me of taking bribe from Soludo or his men unknown to them that Soludo has a way unfathomable by many but Journalists. We just kept mute, watching. I was waiting to speak to Prof as an upcoming Dr on some issues he should take on without any noise, but… .
Now, it’s one year in office. I shall be telling him my observations in the pages of the newspaper. His aides , Commissioner for Information, Chief Paul Nwosu and Chief Press Secretary, Pastor Christian Aburime have continued to emphasize Prof Soludo’s love for the media community, but nothing has changed. The worst rumour on my table is that Soludo has closed down National Light Newspapers because according to them, the MD/CEO ,Chuka Nnabuife didn’t impress him on issues. I haven’t investigated this ,hence it’s a rumour but staffers of the office daily besiege my office.
This morning, I got a Petition from Nigeria Bar Association, NBA Secretary in Nnewi, C.S Agbom Esq, protesting the attack and attempted murder of their colleague, which he described as unwarranted attack and called for police thorough investigation.
Human Rights Volunteer Corps in conjunction with National Human Rights Commission, Abuja petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abuja accusing Soludo’s aides at the Primary Healthcare Agency of embezzling capitation fund worth over One point Five Billion Naira. It was a very lengthy letter of indictment from Hon Ken Anyaeche, Ezeobata and Hon Emmy Iyke Okeke Ezihu. So, many petitions.
I also wanted to do the fight of supremacy at the office of the Local government Commissioners and JAC office among other stories, even the battle royal imminent in Anambra State this Saturday at the polls among other things. But of all the issues coming up for attention from so many sections of the society, I chose to dwell on sabotage to Soludo’s efforts to salvage insecurity in the state. Insecurity affects everyone and most times needed not to be open for better results.
It was a case of grand conspiracy by some Ministry of Justice staff with kidnapping ,trafficking and criminal cartel bent on denying the peace of the State. This ,Soludo frowns at but has he heard about it. If he has ,why is it still persisting?
This collusion targets discharge of armed robbers, kidnappers and transborder human traffickers to continue to terrorize the people.
A case in point is case NO. AG/22C/2017: which is between Anambra State versus Ada Nweke and others. Let’s just have this as one among plethora of cases in such magnitude.
In tears, one Okeke Johnson narrated their pathetic ordeal to me involving the kidnap of his niece, Miss Chisom Okoli from Omogho, in Orumba North L.G.A and her subsequent trafficking to Umuahia.
Hear him: “Being the head of the Okoli family, I forwarded a petition to the then Commissioner of Police and with the serious intervention by the Traditional Ruler and the President General of the Community, the said Chisom was recovered. The perpetrators who are known criminal gang terrorizing the community and environs,when apprehended by Police confessed to the crime.
The Police quickly charged the suspects to the Ajalli Magistrate Court, but for the lack of confidence on the Police, we petitioned the office of the then Attorney General, who took over the case file and assigned it to a State Counsel, through the recommendation of the then DPP Mr. Emma Osunkwo who took interest in the case since he hails from a neighboring community where this kidnappers have also been wreaking havoc.
The assigned State Counsel has been on the case from the Ajalli Magistrate Court where the matter was instituted originally by the Police, to the High court at Ekwulobia where the matter is currently pending with me and other prosecution witnesses having testified remaining only the IPO.
And Mr Okeke Johnson already petitioned His Excellency. He continued: Your Excellency, towards the end of last year, the story was everywhere within the Community that top officials of the Justice Ministry have been greatly compromised by the criminal gang and their associates to scuttle the trial of these defendants and let them off the hook, as had always been the case in previous cases involving the cartel, who had always boasted of their connections and huge financial resources, to induce any public officer to do their bidding.
Shockingly, at the CJ’s Prison visit at Aguata, in November 2022 the hierarchy of the Ministry who represented the State,brazenly made serious case for the release of the suspects in this case and some other Capital offence cases, by pooling the wool over the eyes of the Jury, through deliberate misrepresentation of the true nature of the case, taking advantage of the absence of the Judge, whose court these cases were pending. The Jury which did not fall to their antics in this particular matter referred them to the regular Court, though they had their way in some others.
Seeing that it will not be easy in the instant case, to approach the regular Court without the case file and out of desperation to execute their part of the bargain, they embarked on different forms of tactics ranging from traits, intimidations to campaign of calumny, all aimed at coercing the State Counsel assigned with the matter to unofficially and unethically hand them the case file. When their efforts at intimidating the State Counsel failed, they resorted to physically interrupting the State counsel from presenting his case in Court to the astonishment of persons present including our community representatives.
A situation where the Head of the Aguata Outstation of the Ministry Justice is brazenly making case for the release of confessed hardened suspects in capital offence even in the absence of the defence Counsel to the extent of shouting down the State Counsel assigned with the matter to sit down, when he stood up to announce appearance in this matter, which was assigned to him by the Attorney General, following our petition, smacks of complicity, desperation and usurpation of Authority. This calls to question the interest these Staff of the Ministry is representing: obviously not that of the State (for which Omogho Community is a big stakeholder) that has been engaged in an uphill task of combating heinous crimes in the State, nor that of we the complainants, since we do not know her, nor briefed or discussed with her in any way. The Head of Aguata Office and her purveyors, crying more than the bereaved, is an overt act of complacency, and calls into question the interest she represents as a State Counsel.
He continued: “Besides, records abound where the head of the outstationa nd other high ranking officers of the Ministry jeopardize the State efforts at combating organized crime by colluding with the criminals to let then off the hook, through outright discharge or through bail applications that enables the criminals to escape.
“A case in point is Charge No. AG/46c/2016: State vs Udo Onyinye and another, where the top officials of the Ministry who appeared on behalf of the State made dishonest application in the above referred CJ’s prison visit, for the outright discharge of defendants in a case they know nothing about,by deliberately falsifying the true facts of the matter to suit the defence.
“This led to the discharge of two robbery suspects in that case, which was at the stage of trial within trial, as prayed by the representatives of the State. This said representatives do not know the facts, the case having been officially assigned and being prosecuted by another State Counsel, and after efforts at forcefully retrieving the case file failed.
“The same scenario is playing out in the instant case, reason we are raising this alarm, to avoid these unscrupulous staff obviously working for the interest of the criminals and determined to achieving their part of the bargain, from using their exalted offices in the Ministry of Justice, to allow these members of a trans-border kidnaping and human trafficking cartel, with evidence of the cartel holding many women and Children in their den in Ghana and whose actions have been tormenting Orumba and environs, to escape from Justice.
And more damming was this case below. Hear him further:
“Your Excellency, may I use this medium to bring to your notice the case of a woman who was lucky to escape from this same Kidnap ring in faraway Ghana after 30 days of rape and torture. She with her two children were kidnapped from Ezinifite Aguata, to Ghana, where she with other kidnapped women and children, were being tortured and gang raped continuously. She escaped without her children.This case involving same suspects was investigated charged to Court at Egwulobia in Charge No. Mag/100c/2017: COP vs Florence Nwokocha & 2ors. These criminals bribed their way through, making this case not to see the light of the day, as they are desperately trying to do in the present case in connivance with the officers of the state.
Still in their desperate attempt, the Head of the Aguata out station have consistently refused to bring to the notice of the State counsel in the matter interlocutory applications filed for the defendants release, deceitfully, filed in separate courts from the one the matter is pending, so as to prevent the State Counsel in the matter from filing appropriate responses, so as to hoodwink the court into believing that the State is not diligent/desirous in prosecuting the matter.
I understood HRH Igwe Sir Raphael N. Offor, Ide II of Omogho, has made passionate appeal to the Attorney on the same issue, yet Soludo’s government is fighting crime ,yet breeding crime at the same time.
Let me conclude Johnson”s view before my opinion counts,
He concluded: “In view of the foregoing, I passionately appeal to your Excellency to wade into this matter to see that the hardened criminals in this case and other cases who have been terrorizing Orumba and environs will not continue to be left off the hook by the mischievous acts of the Staff of the Ministry of Justice, and the effected staff cautioned to retrace their steps.
I am most obliged Your Excellency, even as my hope is very high that this correspondence would be accorded the urgent attention it ordinarily deserves.
Do I need to add anything further from this petition to the Governor?
Let me rather appeal to the the Attorney General Anambra State,
the Commissioner Ministry of Women and Social Welfare and the State Commander NAPTIP to wade into these issues for a solution that is pro people to avoid escalating the issues thereto. For now, let me look for Senator Dr Tony Nwoye, representing Anambra North in the National Assembly to ask him why he wasn’t picking calls before wining the election under LP? Let me also look for Senator Dr Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah to solicit for a Highlander 2010 model for NUJ Anambra State as our official car, now his car gifts are wowing! And lastly, I am heading to my pillar of sorts in the time of old, Senator Dr Victor Umeh, Ohamadike to remind him that NUJ secretariat needs his imprimatur, particularly now under my leadership. His Excellency, Mr Peter Obi, is coming!
****Cornucopia is a weekly column of Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD.
Odogwu is a known Journalist, Editor, Media Consultant ,Unionist and famous Blogger, as well as Social Media Entrepreneur, Publisher and Conversationalist @ www.odogwublog.com among others.
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