An Owerri based attorney, Barr. Basil Igwike, and Chief Joseph Anunobi, the Secretary-General of the Nkerehi community in Orumba South L.G.A. in Anambra State, have cried out to the world over what they call police impunity and refusal to arrest and arraign suspects who have brutalized and vandalized their community to no end. They express frustration that since 2007 no criminal actions reported to police have been charged to court.
They stormed the News Echo office to express their frustration while appealing to the police to let justice prevail.
Igwike has alleged that there was an assassination attempt on his life in the wee hours of 7th January 2021, by a group of people led by one Kenneth Maduka and following his escape they pounced on his wife, Dr. Maureen Igwike, and assaulted and brutalized her severely and attempted to rape her.
They also vandalized three vehicles in the compound. According to him, all efforts to bring the culprits to book have been frustrated by the police even with all the evidences on ground.
In the words of Barrister Basil Igwike, an indigene of Nkerehi, “it would appear that some people are now above the law and dictates to police the pace of investigation and now evades police appointments to frustrate complainants. If as a lawyer, I am frustrated this much I fear for ordinary citizens.
I have done everything an ordinary citizen is expected to do under the circumstance but no action is coming from the police with all the overwhelmingly glaring evidences of the terrible crimes that were committed.”
Trouble started for Nkerehi community when it was alleged that their son, Dr. Godwin Maduka, had in 2007 without consultation to community leadership effected an attempt to change the name of the town from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu.
This has torn the community apart as Godwin Maduka, a PDP governorship aspirant is alleged to have been oppressing every member of the community opposed to the name change. Some of the actions include burning of people’s houses, kidnapping, vandalizing and burning of vehicles, physical assault and killing of people. Some of the issues are already long domiciled in the court.
The community leadership, including Igwike and other complainants appear frustrated as the police was yet to do anything on their matter even after petitioning the Inspector General of Police. Hear the lamentations of Mr. Joseph Anulobi, the Secretary General of the community since 2006.
“On 6 of January 2021, when I was burying my late dad aged 102, my house was vandalized, they kidnapped a minor, my younger brother’s son who they alleged was sent to spy on them. This matter was reported to the Police and the DSS in Awka. The then Commissioner of Police, John Abang, did not allow us to talk. Even the woman, Dr (Mrs) Maureen Igwike who was assaulted and brutalized that night was also not given a chance to talk. I called the Commissioner of Police that night who was briefed by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO).
“When no arrests was made we put up a petition, up till now that we are speaking no action from the police. That is at the state level. We went further to the Police at Abuja where we made statements. The Police came down to Anambra and our people made further statements.
They now came to our community and invited Kenneth Maduka and his other group members. They didn’t go the very day they were invited but sent a lawyer who spoke on their behalf. Later they secured appointment with the police at Abuja and three out of many of them who vandalized my house and beat up Basil’s wife went.
“We never knew what transpired but when they came back they became boastful that they have gone to Abuja to destroy our case and that we can’t do anything about the matter posting their boasts in social media. After this, we have been invited by the police three times and each time we show up but they will never come.
Their lawyer came on the second date and the DCP handling the matter warned that the next appearance which is June 10th is sacrosanct. On the 10th June they never showed up and their lawyer also failed to come.
“The DCP himself was not in the office but delegated the CSP who is the team manager investigating the issue. They launched into a long talk asking us to be patient following which I disclosed that this is six months I have not visited my home after they vandalized it and that they are trailing me to be killed me. I ran to Ufuma in Orumba South that night they destroyed my house and no member of my household is in that home. I asked the police if I can go ahead and fix my house they said no.
“The situation is frustrating and everything appears the police is reluctant to do anything from their body language. I told the police myself that they claimed you people (police) took them to a hotel where you bathed them, powdered them and told them to go that there is no problem, and this they are exhibiting at home.
On the 12th of this month, they launched into another attack on Nkerehi men beating them, claiming that they have gone to Abuja and that nothing would happen. That is how our matter has been since 2007.
“There is none of our matters reported to the police that have been charged to Court since 2007. I have all the documents which I can provide you. These include burnt vehicles, those whose houses were destroyed, etc. All the petitions are with me. For instance, in 2009 somebody was killed and we went to Abuja for a whole year the matter is still lingering till now.
“The other incident is the burning of two vehicles belonging to a man during the burial of his mother. They barricaded the road protesting that the poster on the vehicle bore Nkerehi which they said that they do not want to see and they burnt the vehicles. This happened in front of the police station. The records, pictures are there.
We took the matter to the Commissioner of Police and they concealed it. This happened in 2013 and nothing was done till now in spite of the petition. The latest was the one on Jan 7, 2021 in which CP refused to do anything but asked us to go and be killing ourselves, that he would only come and carry our corpses.
According to Barrister Basil Igwike “These are not surprising, Dr. Godwin Maduka who’s younger brother Kenneth Maduka led other miscreants to attack them is the major sponsor of the crises in Nkerehi town.
Dr. Maduka has been formenting the crisis in Nkerehi and personally sponsoring all the atrocities and crimes against humanity on the Nkerehi people since 2007, has so far built a police station in the community and handed it over to Nigerian Police, built quarters where the police live free of charge, purchase a vehicle for the police with his name inscribed on it. He also built a magistrate court in the town and a high court and handed them over to Anambra State Judiciary. So far, Dr. Godwin Maduka is very cozy with the Nigerian law enforcement and politicians.
Therefore, as far as Nkerehi is concerned, Dr. Godwin Maduka is the jury, the judge, and the executioner. In terms of corruption, Godwin Maduka represents the worst that ever happens to Nigeria. He believes that every Nigerian has a price and he can always buy them. It is unfortunate that someone who is an American citizen and has lived in the USA for almost forty years is escalating the Nigeria’s curse.”
When we contacted the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Frank Mbah, he referred us to the State Command because according to him he doesn’t have facts of the matter. He was further reminded that the issue is domiciled at the Force CID Abuja, but he was yet to respond to as at the time of going to press.
However, the Deputy Commissioner of Police handling the case had this to say, is it professionally allowed for me to report to you, am I your staff, I am not going to report to you, let the man channel his complaints through the police channels, he can go to court, go to Police Service Commission, you can go ahead and publish whatever you want, you are in Nigeria, you know what is happening in Nigeria, if you don’t know ask others to educate you on what is happening in our legal system in the past.
Another Police officer leading the investigation, Ademola, declined comment saying he is not obligated to say anything so long the PPRO is there. When our reporter contacted Kenneth Maduka, he stated that this is not the time to talk about Umuchukwu matter. We have a primary tomorrow.
Dr. Maduka is contesting, don’t you know, are you not in Anambra? Whatever case we have in Umuchukwu since 2003 we now concentrate on how to put a credible person in Anambra government house. That is what I am concentrating now. Call me next week.
Three attempts to reach the President General of Umuchukwu, Emeka Adunchezo, one of the suspects, failed as his line was each time switched off. He was yet to respond to a text message sent to his line as at the time of filing this report.
The fratricidal war arising from the forcible attempt to change of name has taken a toll on the community in terms of human and material resources. It is unusual and unlike what should be seen in a typical Igbo community. What beats ones imagination is why the issue has protracted with obvious consequences?
It is clear the authorities at all levels have come short of expectations in resolving the community crises leaving one to wonder the more.