– Couple escapes assassination; their 4-bedroom demolished by assailants
-Appeals to IGP to compel Anambra police command conduct proper investigation
Kidnap: Cynthia Chidinma Igbokwe reports that a gang of nine comprising of eight boys and a girl who reportedly kidnapped Mr. Kenneth Akpunonu and his wife Ebere from their Egbema – Ozubulu residence in Ekwusigo council area with intention to kill them and dump their bodies in the Ezu Lake, Agulu are still walking the streets free due to alleged reluctance of Anambra State Police command to properly investigate the matter.
The gunmen after kidnapping the couple demolished their four bedroom apartment and threw their properties out. They were said to have killed and carted away some of the fowls in Kenneth’s Poultry with an expressed intention to use them to prepare pepper soup for themselves.
The victim, Mr. Kenneth Akpunonu, who attributed their escape to the mercy of God, accused his relative, Mr. Ikenna Akpunonu, Obiano’s aide of masterminding his abduction and attempted murder as he was the one who broke into his four Bedroom apartment and ordered the 9-man gang to demolish it. He alleged that it was Ikenna, a.k.a Gaddafi that supervised his molestation as he was beaten blue and black before he and his wife were whisked off in a Hilux Van to Agulu Lake where he survived a murder attempt on his life and that of his wife, Ebere.
He told newsmen that the building in question was given to him by his 70 years old Uncle, Mr. Jerome Akpunonu after he moved to his new house in the neighbourhood. But a nephew to his Uncle, Mr. Ikenna Akpunonu vowed that he would not enjoy the gift since, according to him, he (the victim) is an illegitimate child from his aunty before she married.
The victims narrated how the Ikenna led cultists/kidnap gang argued with their leader (who had disembarked midway) on phone before their very presence over an instruction to shoot and feed them to the Crocodiles. He said it was in the midst of the confusion and misunderstanding that ensued that one of the kidnappers who said he was backing out of the deal to avoid staining his hands with the blood of an innocent couple signaled them to jump out of the parked Hilux and escape into the bush.
Kenneth further narrated how the assailants rained bullets after them while they crawled on their knees in the dark of the night inside the bush before the assailants escaped from the scene, perhaps believing that they have been hit. Shortly after the assailants left, they surveyed the surrounding and saw a lit house nearby which they approached and pleaded with the occupant to have mercy on them as their lives were in danger. It took God’s mercy for them to be allowed to sleep over by the occupant who also assisted them the next morning with transport fare to return to Ozubulu.
Narrating their ordeal further, Kenneth was worried that the police in the state is treating the matter with levity as if it had been compromised not to investigate the matter for justice to be served. He wondered why the police wanted to force peaceful settlement on them without being interested in justice in a matter involving kidnap and attempted murder; when it should be justice first before peace.
Conducting newsmen round the demolished property, Kenneth lamented: ‘’Ikenna Akpunonu and his gang of 9 (8 boys and a girl) kidnapped me and my wife; destroyed a house donated to me by my uncle, Chief Jerome Akpunonu; as well as other property, including some essential documents and property belonging to my Uncle which were still locked in one of the rooms. Just look at how they vandalized and destroyed everything. And the police is treating the matter with kid gloves?
“Is there no law on kidnapping in Anambra state again? This is a clear case of kidnap established against Ikenna and his gang; at least I recognized two to three of the assailants whose identities I have revealed to the police. Yet, Ikenna (aka Gaddafi) goes about boasting that nothing would happen because he is an SA to Governor Obiano?”
The victim continued:
“Ikenna is a cultist; come and see his shrine behind here. When they arrived that night, they divided themselves into two. While one set were demolishing my house, the other whisked my wife and I off to Agulu Lake. But for God’s intervention that night which ignited confusion amongst the gang that went to waste our lives, we would have been murdered in cold blood without traces.
” I not for that divine intervention But for that intervention, my wife and I, together with my uncle, Jerome and his wife, Ada Akpunonu would have all become the accused now instead of the complainants. Because while the matter was pending at the Police in Awka following formal report we lodged there, when the local police refused to act on our initial report, the culprit-in-chief, Ikenna Akpunonu curiously approached Zone 9 Umuahia with a fresh and frivolous petition alleging all kinds of things against us. He alleged that we were chasing him around with dangerous weapons with intent to kill him and that we pulled down his fence. This was a strategy to undermine the report we entered with the state Police command Awka and further compromise our status as the victims /complainants.
“Based on that frivolous petition, while the kidnap matter against Ikenna was pending at Awka, we were arrested on our way back from the State Police Command at his behest and whisked to Zone 9, Umuahia in Commando style. There, we were dumped in police cell. But the God of the just intervened again as the AIG in charge of the Zone saw through Gaddafi’s lies and wicked plot when the matter was brought before him. After listening to all parties, he reprimanded and cautioned Ikennna for abusing the process and giving police false information; which on its own is another crime”.
Why then has Ikenna Akpunonu (and at least his collaborators in crime who have been identified by the victims) not been arraigned by the Police in Anambra and undergoing prosecution? The victims suspect strongly that he is enjoying the sponsorship and protection of a powerful Ozubulu moneybag who wields strong influence over all arms of the state and local police. They however believe that sooner than later, truth shall triumph over money and oppressive influence.
On his part, Chief Jerome Akpunonu (who donated the house at the centre of the disagreement to Kenneth) confirmed that in the past, the village heads of Inyaba Mbana Egbema Ozubulu had intervened in the matter and gave verdict in his favour as the rightful owner of the portion of land where the house was built, being the last born. He affirmed that the fence he erected there was demolished by Ikenna and his accomplices. He informed that at another intervention made on 21st November 2018, the community passed a second verdict against Ikenna alias Gaddafi which he rebuffed. This prompted the community to place sanctions on him. In addition to the sanctions, the community directed that none of the contending parties should enter the disputed property until an amicable resolution of the issues raised is attained. But Gaddafi defied that order by coming in company of 6 policemen from the same Awka (which had refused to thoroughly investigate the report they entered earlier ) to arrest them at home on 23rd November 2018.
He said himself, his wife, Kenneth and his wife were arrested and taken to Awka over a petition by Ikenna. He said his son Tobenna was mentioned in the petition but he was not around to be arrested too. Jerome hinted that while they were away with the police on arrest at Awka, Gaddafi swiftly arranged 16 masons and commissioned them to fence off and gate the compound. Some 16 concerned villagers who braved it to question Ikenna’s rascality were again rounded up and detained at the Ozubulu Police Station until the fence work was completed. They were subsequently released while I was bailed with a sum of N55, 000.
In the light of the foregoing, the victims are not only saddened but disappointed with the way the Anambra state police command has so far handled the petition lodged by Kenneth Akpunonu over their kidnap. They are also miffed by the fresh petition that the Chief suspect, Gaddafi lodged at Zone 9 Umuahia which led to their unjustified arrest and almost succeeded in turning them into defendants in a matter that they are the complainants.
Chief Jerome Akpunonu and his wife Ada corroborated the story told by Kenneth that the building was erected by him (Jerome) on the portion of land he inherited as the last born of the family. He wondered why Gaddafi, a political tout and cultist, should be creating confusion in their peaceful family. Especially since his (Gaddafi’s) late father, Columba Akpunonu never looked for anyone’s trouble nor had issues with him (Jerome) over the said land in his lifetime.
When newsmen visited the expansive compound, it was open and we observed that, of the four buildings in the compound, only the 4 bedroom flat was destroyed. The building was demolished in a wicked manner that nothing was rescued from it. There was no fence pulled down as alleged. The couple now habit in the pen house which served as poultry.
Confirming Mr. Kenneth Akpunonu’s kidnap story, Chinelo Onwudinjo the woman that assisted them after they escaped from their abductors at Agulu Lake, , narrated how she saw them at midnight after they closed for the day’s business as they stay late. She said Kenneth was wearing only boxers with a woman who was shivering whom he introduced as his wife. She confirmed too that she heard gun shots at the lake side before encountering Kenneth and his wife at Okwueme shop.
It bears stressing that when Kenneth returned from Agulu, he reported the incident of his forceful abduction and demolition of his property as well as looting to the Ozubulu police station , explaining in details how it happened, but the DPO was said to have done nothing until after two weeks when he was prompted to act on the report. That was when he sent two policemen to the scene of demolition and to Agulu where their claims were confirmed.
According to Kenneth, he also took policemen from Ozubulu to the family house of one of the suspects, Chidiebere Nwofor who came with Ikenna and others the night he was abducted. He said they met him washing clothes but deliberately allowed him to escape. He lamented that subsequently, they were invited for an interview with the Police at Awka following a tip off that Gaddafi has been arrested, they went only for Gadaffi and the other suspect who uses the compound as his sex den to be released. It was on same day on their way back from Awka that they were arrested and bundled to Umuahia Zone 9 on account of the frivolous petition by Ikenna against them.
He wondered why the IPO and others should be pressuring them to accept peaceful settlement without justice to him and his wife; as well as justice for his uncle, Jerome and wife. He recalled that but for the AIG’s timely intervention on the prompting of Abuja, they might have been forgotten to rust in police cell as the accused instead of complainants. He said it was the self-evident lies told by Gaddafi that made the AIG livid with anger and prompted him to suspend his frivolous petition against us while directing that Gaddafi should go and attend to the processes pending against him in Awka, which now includes a court process which service he (Gaddafi) has been since evading. Adding that he has been served by substituted means.
Kenneth informed that his health has deteriorated sequel to mass beating by the kidnappers and cell inmates at Umuahia police station. He further informed that even the Anambra State Commissioner of Police was shocked over the matter when he heard about it that he warned them of dabbling into communal land dispute and wondered why false information charge was not brought against Ikenna.
As it is now, it was learnt that Hon. Onyeka Mbaso, another political aide to His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano, has reportedly intervened to restore peace. But Jerome and Kenneth are insisting that there can be no peace without justice. They are insisting that Ikenna and his co-travelers in crime be made to face the consequences of their indiscretion to serve as deterrent for others.
Reacting in a phone interview, Mr Ikenna Akpunonu aka Gaddafi denied ever kidnapping Mr. Kenneth Akpunonu and his wife, Ebere; adding that he was never part of the people who destroyed the 4 bedroom apartment but rather accused Kenneth and Jerome of destroying his house only to turn round to accuse him. He said the allegations were false.
Ikenna, a.k.a Gaddafi, who claimed to work in the Office of Governor Willie Obiano at the Government House Awka said further: ‘’I am not a kidnapper. I am not a Cultist and I am not an armed robber as alleged. I work in the Governor’s office. I am under law and I am keeping the law. I wasn’t part of those who kidnapped Kenneth and his wife. I was not part of those who demolished his house. They destroyed my house and my fence and turn around to accuse me. I have no relationship with Kenneth. He is not my father’s brother. He has no share in my father’s compound. He is the son of Jerome’s sister, so he has shares with Jerome; not me in my father’s compound’’.
On the intervention of the community on the matter, Ikenna wanted to know if it was that of 1992, 1995, 2007 or 2018 that he would keep. He said that in the last three years, he has been running for his life from the compound with his mother as they wanted to kill him to take over his father’s property. He vowed not to allow them take over his father’s compound, hence his petition to the police.
He alleged his father gave Jerome his share while alive. He claimed the house was built by his grandfather and renovated by Jerome but that his father, Columba Akpunonu was the head and therefore the compound is his inheritance – hence his brothers Jerome inclusive left. He wondered why he should now be contending with an illegitimate child. He said he was above 40 years when his father died and therefore had documents to buttress his points. He asked them to explain where Kenneth was leaving before now and why he was never abandoned all this while.
Efforts to get the IPO and former Police Public Relations Officer, Nkiruka Nwode’s handling of the case proved abortive as all her contacts were switched off as at press time.
But , the Anambra state Police Public Relations Officer PPRO, Haruna Mohammed confirmed the report ,saying investigation is ongoing to unravel the mystery kidnap and demolition.