Girl begs ex-lawmaker Ned Nwoko to ‘release’ dad languishing in police detention


Pamela Ifejoku, the daughter of a community leader in Idumuje-Ugboko village in Delta State, has cried out over the continued detention of her father believed to be influenced by Ned Nwoko, a former federal lawmaker.

Her dad, who is the President of the Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU), Okey Ifejoku, was re-arrested alongside his deputy, Godwin Aniemeke, on March 26 and has been in police detention since.

Ms Ifejoku begged Mr Nwoko to release her father.

“My father has been arrested again because of Ned Nwoko. I don’t know why Ned Nwoko is so bent on frustrating my family. I beg you all to lend me your voices,” Miss Ifejoku tearfully begged in a viral video.

She continued; ” I believe somebody somewhere will definitely hear us out. I believe there is someone who can actually do something about this. Ned Nwoko , please, release my daddy.”

“What’s all this wickedness for? What is all this injustice for,” she said in tears.

Also, in an accompanying write up on Twitter, the Igbinedion University graduate questioned her dad’s continued detention.

Ned Nwoko
Ned Nwoko

“My questions for Ned Nwoko are;

1. Ned Nwoko what do you really want?

2. Why do you insist on my father being detained indefinitely for the same offence he had earlier been discharged by the Magistrate Court, and is also standing trial at the Federal High court, having been granted bail?

3. Does it not amount to abuse of court process, cherry picking and forum shopping, for the state and the police, prompted by Ned Nwoko, to arrest several members of the Idumuje-Ugboko community and charge them in several different courts, for the same alleged offence?

4. What happens if the FHC and the High Court give different judgments on the same issue, same facts and same defendants?” she asked.

TEXEM

The spokesperson of the police, Frank Mba, did not respond to calls put across to seek his reaction.

When contacted on Sunday, Mr Nwoko also declined comments, directing our reporter to “speak with the complainants who are witness to the killings and destruction.”

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how police rearrested the two leaders who had been facing trial in Abuja over a crisis in the community.

Seven persons, including Messrs Ifejoku and Aniemeke, had been charged to court for allegedly killing one man, Cyprian Kumaorun, in 2017.

The five other defendants in the terrorism charge are Nonso Omefe, Dennis Nwoko, Light Nwochie, Aikhomu Omezi and Emeka Bidoku.

They were accused of conspiring with others now at large in May 2017 to unleash terror on the community by burning houses and killing Mr Kumaorun.

However, the case is still pending before Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja when Messrs Ifejoku and Aniemeke were whisked away by the cops in March.

Legal experts who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in March condemned such move since the case was already being treated in the terrorism charge.

“This is just an attempt to frustrate justice. But you know this is Nigeria where what is abnormal is the norm. Since they have been charged in a competent court previously and it’s on the same case, there is no need for a new suit,” Anthony Williams, a Lagos-based lawyer, said.

It should be noted that after spending two weeks at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) in Abuja, they were transferred to the Delta State police command in Asaba, where they are currently being held without trial.

This has also been worsened by the strike action embarked upon by the Judiciary workers which led to the shutdown of courts since April 6.

Despite several visits and a petition written to the Inspector General of Police explaining the illegality of their detention, nothing has ensued, their lawyer told PREMIUM TIMES.

Okey Ifejoku in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES last year
Okey Ifejoku in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES last year

Genesis

PREMIUM TIMES, in a two-part series published last year December, reported how Mr Nwoko dislodged poor farmers from their farmlands to build a private university in the village.

This newspaper reported how the billionaire, in 2015, grabbed 90 hectares of land in Idumuje-Ugboko and how he relentlessly used security officers to intimidate members of the community who challenged him, starting from 2015.

Mr Nwoko’s land grab later led to violence, kingship tussle and rights violations in his hometown when some members of the community including the IUDU president kicked against his demands for 90 hectares of land.

The opposition was led by Chukwunonso Nwoko, the former lawmaker’s kinsman from the royal family, who ascended the throne.

While there are pending lawsuits surrounding the approval of the land by the late monarch, Mr Nwoko had commenced the building of the proposed STARS University on the 90 hectares.

On May 23, 2017, about 30 hoodlums disrupted a meeting of the community leaders called to address the crisis over the land.

But the youth of the community repelled the thugs, the exchange leaving many injured and one Cyprian Koumaru, a motorcyclist from Benue State, suspected dead after going missing since the incident.

The police later arrested some persons over the violence, including the monarch of the community, his uncles and supporters.

Some were illegally detained before being charged to court while nine (including Mr Ifejoku) were taken into custody in Abuja on charges of terrorism.

Most of them were later granted bail after spending months in incarceration.

PREMIUM TIMES investigation revealed that the police are yet to provide evidence of the culpability of those arrested in connection with the death of Mr Kumaroun as two of them have been discharged and acquitted after spending three years in Asaba prison for want of evidence.

Sources told PREMIUM TIMES that the incessant arrests are an attempt by the former lawmaker to punish those against the massive land grab for his university.

Mr Nwoko,on the other hand, had repeatedly denied this, saying all he is seeking is justice for Mr Kumaroun and other victims of the 2017 crisis.

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