Legal practitioner, Igwike, alleges threat to life
Envy not change of name responsible for crisis – Igwe Maduka
All is not well in Nkerehi community in Orumba South local government area of Anambra State following a tussle over change in the name of the community from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu.
At the centre of the imbroglio is the family of a legal practitioner, Barr Basil Igwike and that of Dr. Godwin Maduka.
Igwike, who is the attorney to Nkerehi community, is alleging threat to his life and those of his family members by the Maduka family, who is allegedly using his wealth to influence the police to harass and intimidate him.
Trouble was said to have started in February 28, 2007 when Dr. Godwin Maduka, a native of Nkerehi but resident in United States, came back to unilaterally change the name of the town from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu and erected sign posts.
He was also said to have thereafter given an instruction to the traditional ruler of the community, who was his maternal uncle but now late, to enforce the change.
The legal practitioner said that his trouble with the Maduka family was because he was hired by the community to challenge the action.
According to him, “My community Nkerehi is involved in intra-communal crisis since Feb 28 2007 when Dr. Godwin Maduka, a native of the community resident in America unilaterally came back to change the name of the town from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu via sign posts. He gave the instruction to the Igwe who was his maternal uncle but now late. He instructed that the town ceases to be called Nkerehi and henceforth should be called Umuchukwu.
“All the existing signage were removed and replaced with ones bearing Umuchukwu. In March 2007, community members not happy with the development and members of the Nkerehi Development Union came to me for legal advice. Godwin Maduka got wind of the meeting and came to me at night with his brother thugs abducted me and took me to his house where he beat me to a state of moribund. This occurred March 11, 2007.
“As they beat me he alleged that I kidnapped the Igwe of the town who is his maternal uncle. Also abducted and tagged kidnapper is the Anglican priest Rev Toochukwu Akaegbobi who refused him trespasses into the Anglican Church land. He also arrested one Nze Paulinus Nnadi. We challenged his unilateral action in the court and there came out several court matters drawing from the action he suspected to be against the name change agenda,
“There is the suit against the then Chieftaincy and local government affairs commissioner; he was brought under restriction as he attempted conducting a Kangaroo referendum with the Umuchukwu faction to effect the name change. We sued Peter Obi, the then governor of Anambra State in 2007. In 2008 when Peter Obi issued a gazette to change the name we amended our writ to challenge the gazette because it was issued ‘lispendis’ meaning the gazette was issued when the matter is still pending in the court.
“In spite of the numerous court cases on the name change agenda Godwin Maduka and his Umuchukwu militia flooded the community with myriads of firearms. We had plethora of petitions written to the Inspector General of Police and every other police hierarchy complaining about flooding the community with myriads of firearms but the police did not listen to us. His militia in that community has been terrorizing residents of Nkerehi. While the matters are still pending in Court the militia had always attacked us at random from time to time whenever there is a ceremony in that community, burial, wedding etc. they come to interrupt.”
“July 22, 2009, when in a marriage ceremony at Uhu village in Nkerehi, the Umuchukwu factions came in their numbers to interrupt the occasion, beating people, destroying properties and in the process fractured the leg of one Ben Onwu, a member of the family and injured several other. On August 29, 2009,when the people of Nkerehi decided to come back home their attack continued during which they shot to death one Iroka Akalazu and killed one stranger thinking it was one Barr.Charles Odor who was a staunch member of Nkerehi, thus they succeeded in chasing everyone of us in forced exile.
“We were on exile from 2009-2011 and while in exile I was putting up in my in-law’s house and on the April 15, 2011 the same Umuchukwu people planned for my kidnap. While with my wife about 7 persons jumped through the fence with AK 47 asking my wife “where is Basil” but by the grace of God I escaped but they kidnapped my father and the man that haboured us in his house. We spent close to N4m before they were released eventually.
“It was when my father was with the kidnappers that one of them was telling him why were we challenging the rich man in our community and after my father gave a low down of the issue they became soft with him. On Jan 7, 2021, I went to celebrate Christmas with my family at home, there was calm everywhere. Earlier, the Nkerehi people were bringing the corpse of one Akalazu for burial the Umuchukwu barricaded the road and tore the posters on the vehicles because it bore Nkerehi.
“We ignored them and moved on with the burial. On the 6th Jan, 2021 when Joseph Anulaobi was bringing in the corpse of a 102 year old man, they barricaded the road and repeated what they did earlier. We ignored them again and conducted our burial. Around 12.39 am on Jan 7, I was woken up with a shout from my cousin who was held siege by Kenneth Maduka, Ekene Nwankwo, one other boy I know his face but not his name. Ekene was holding a gun and an axe.
“When I jumped up and flashed my light from the balcony, the boy I could not remember his name but the son of one Ndidi from Umana, asked me to open the door because it was me that they came for. When I noticed danger my wife had to go down the staircase to open the door. All of a sudden they broke the door and pushed in and I had no other option than to take a chance jumping down from the upstairs and did not wound.
“When they realized I have ran out they took me wife away, Kenneth tore her wrapper probably wanting to rape her but my wife was on her menstrual cycle. Later on they came back from where they held my wife hostage and started vandalizing vehicles in the compound, my ML Mercedes, my Honda Odyssey, my brother’s vehicle too and broke some properties. They beat up my wife to stupor before releasing her. They went to the houses of other Nkerehi people. Simeon Okeke was bitten to stupor.
“They laid siege in the house of Joseph Anulaobi who buried his father same day. They grabbed his cousin, a boy of about 12 years and took him to Kenneth house, and threatened him that for him to be alive he must say what they want him to say. They told the boy to say that I, Joseph Anulaobi, Simeon Okeke and Ben Onwu, sent the boy that night to go and spy the house of Kenneth so that we would come to arrest him and to say that we gave him charms to come and spray in Kenneth’s house.
“They beat the boy mercilessly videoing his nakedness which they posted on social media. Kenneth Maduka and his brother have been plotting and executing evil in my community. I want the world to know that if anything happens to me, the Maduka’s family should be held responsible. I can recall that on the 2011 incident I went to Bishop Obinna personally and left an open window to him that if eventually I should die, Dr. Maduka should be held responsible. It is verifiable, Bishop if he can recall will state that I told him so.
Igwike denied knowledge of any agreement by the community to change its name. Giving a background to the name change he stated, “it was precisely towards the end of 2007 that Godwin Maduka came in to join in 7am mass, after the mass he came out to announce publicly that the community ceases to answer Nkerehi but Umuchukwu. Next day we started seeing sign posts written Umuchukwu all over the place. There was no time the issue of name change was debated or presented before the general house of Nkerehi.”
On the possible reason for Maduka’s name change, Igwike stated that he has not seen him state his reason but realizes that when the issue got to the public space his followers were heard saying that the name was bringing bad name, bad luck, and lack of progress to the indigenes. According to him, “I refuse to buy that because it was the same name that Dr. Maduka answered before he became a billionaire.”
On police reaction he reiterated his earlier comment that Maduka used his money to pocket the police force. “In the 2007 incident, immediately after he quickly went and built a police divisional office in my community which he donated to the police force. We have plethora of petitions written about the criminal activities of Maduka to the Inspector General of Police, the AIG Zone 9, the Police Commissioner, and even the DPO’s but none of the petitions have seen the light of the day.
“In the latest incident we petitioned the Anambra CP who summoned the two factions to come to his office for a meeting. We got there but unfortunately the CP left the reason he called us and started praising Dr. Maduka in our presence. Even when my wife who was battered by the hooligans raised her hands to remind of the matter, the CP shut her down “that this is my office and don’t want you to say anything”
“In response, Kenneth Maduka the alleged mastermind and who is said to be claiming the Igwe of Umuchukwu, denied it all claiming that those alleging these issues are the problems of the community since 2007. In his words, “all these things are propagandas, none of them happened. I never had issues with any of them. They actually had issues with the youths. All along they always bring people every year to implicate them. Basil has been the problem we have in that community, ever since he became a lawyer, like me too.
All these things are as a result of envy, everybody must not be the same, have different destinies. That we came out same time called to Bar same day does not mean we must be at same level. Since 2007 this matter has been in court out of the 27 cases we have won 20 remaining 7 which we are going to win too.”
On the attack on 7th Jan, he completely denied it all, saying, “no way, it is a lie, it never happened.
We have taken the matter to the Commissioner of Police.”On the allegation that the CP shunned the woman, he stated that, the CP knows them, this is not the first time. The main issue here is the change of name. The truth is that my brother has nothing to do with this. My brother is in the USA. All they are trying to do is that my brother has shown intention to run for governor of Anambra State, they are trying every aspect to stop him but they cannot because the change of name was gazzetted.
“They challenged that in court and we won, both in the Appeal Court before they moved up to the Supreme Court. The CP last year said we should go and maintain status quo and the status quo is Umuchukwu and that we should write an undertaking. He affirmed that it was the community that changed their name and not Dr. Maduka who was not even around when they changed the name.
“And let me ask you, did these idiots tell you that we are related. I and Basil shared same space in school at Uturu. The issue really is not about change of name but jealousy. It is about how a savior can be found in the house of Joseph. If my brother compromised the police according to them, did my brother also use his money to buy all the law courts, all the traditional rulers in Anambra, in Abia, all the churches, all the Bishops in Anglican and Catholic churches? I am the Igwe of Umuchukwu, there is no town in Anambra called Nkerehi and you cannot see such sign post in our community or elsewhere.
“On the vandalized vehicles in the family, he maintained that is their way, who will vandalize vehicle and break only the windscreen, if you want to vandalize you set it ablaze. We caught them in their own game so they resorted to a cheap blackmail to redirect attention. They wanted to kill me so they sent a boy to my palace on three different occasions to come and spy, spread charms and he made a confessional statement to the DPO at Umuchukwu but after he was released he made another counter statement indicating that he was forced to do so by his captors.
Dr (Mrs) Maureen Igwike, wife of Barr. Basil Igwe, painfully and tearfully narrated how she was assaulted and dealt slaps by Kenneth Maduka and his team, her wrapper pulled away from her waist in an attempt to rape her. In her words, “Kenneth even wanted to rape me, he tore my knickers. He and his nephew Kingsley were all beating me. When I ran to my Owerre Ezukala village that morning my father and others saw my swollen face, he went to Kenneth’s house with about four men that same day to ask him why he would raise his ugly hands at me. I was rescued by a retired military man who told them that this thing you people are doing is wrong.
“The man queried, Kenneth I thought you said that you are a lawyer; can you because of this mere allegation by a small boy which does not hold water that this people did this thing? Kenneth said that he doesn’t need to investigate, that we did it. When he could no longer bear it he dragged me to my compound. They jumped the fence and came again. He responded to my father that I have been insulting him and one of the people in my father’s entourage queried if he has reported me to my father to which he claimed he reported to my uncle. That night as he was hitting me with the wood on my chest he said I am going to kill you, kill your husband and children and nothing would happen.
“In the office of the CP when I made to speak, the CP said, “Madam sit down, this is my office I will allow you to talk when I want you to talk.” After one man from Owerre Ezukala spoke, I raised up my hand again that I am a victim and want to state my case. He said Madam sit down and I obeyed but with bitterness. He now said, “I have been asking you people to have peace but you refused, you should go and fight and kill yourselves, the only thing I will do is to come and collect your corpses and dump in the mortuary, after all I am not from your place.” All of us that were victims were not given a chance to talk. The DPO had earlier given a graphic account of the incident as it happened in the presence of the victims, the two factions but no attention was given to it by the CP.
When our reporter reached the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO), SP Haruna, for confirmation and status of the matter, he denied knowledge of the incident querying the reporter if Barr. Igwe had reported to the police to which he was reminded that the matter is already in the office of the CP. Even after he was informed of the community the incident occurred and that report has been made he still insisted on knowing if Igwike has made a report. In compliance he was sent a copy of the petition to the police and as the time of filing this report no information has been received from him.
One Joseph Anulaobi, another victim and who claimed to be secretary general, Nkerehi Progressive Union, said that “all the issue bothered on the unilateral change of the name of the community by Dr. Maduka without the agreement of the town union and that is what my offence became. Midway into the burial of my l02 year old father, as the corpse made home it was blocked by a group of Umuchukwu youths from entering the community. They tore the posters. Kenneth Maduka came to the vehicle where I was and started to abuse me threatening to fight me with some of his thugs like Ekene Nwankwo, Nicholas Eze etc.
“They disrupted the burial and in the night abducted my brother’s 12 year old son who they took to Kenneth’s house, beating up the boy alleging that I sent him to go and spray charms in Kenneth’s house. They tied the boy’s hands forcing him to implicate me, Barr Basil Igwike, Ben Onwu, Nwankwo Ikpo that we sent him. They attacked me in the mid night breaking 7th Jan just after burying my dad, but I escaped. They invaded my house and started beating everybody in the premises, smashed the windows, took away android phones of my visitors, cash received, etc. I carried the people who were wounded to the Commissioner of Police.
“He started telling us that we wrote frivolous petition against one of our sons Dr. Godwin Maduka to Inspector General of Police and the National Assembly but he was asked to investigate it and discovered that our petitions were baseless and unfounded. But he never invited us the people he claimed that wrote the petition.”
On the current attack, “he refused to do anything telling us to go and fight, that he will be coming there to carry corpse and put in mortuary after he is not from my place. We wrote a petition which he assigned to the monitoring unit but they are yet to arrest anybody. Kenneth led the operation of more than 50 people carrying iron, commanding others to beat, beat, beat everybody. I am not in my house now because the police are yet to do anything.
An eye witness account of One Emmanuel Ogubuike had this to say, “I met a group of youths who held a small boy who was accused to have gone to the premises of one Kenneth Maduka to spray juju. Momentarily, I saw them drag out one woman who was identified as the wife of Basil Igwike. I was told they went for the husband who they did not see but picked the wife and I said that is not right, you don’t drag out a woman in the midnight because the husband was absent
“In the process of talking to Kenneth who slapped her they started beating her, kicking and slapping her more. Kenneth’s cousin who they call Kingsley was also beating her and even Kingsley had to hit me on my head when I used my body to protect the woman. When they were over powering me I shouted that she should run and that was when she ran back to her compound. There was another man they were beating called Nwankwo Ikpo alleged to be involved in the spread of juju through the small boy.
The matter of change of a community’s name had dragged for over 14 years leading to fratricidal wars and legal tussle without any hope in sight by the authorities to resolve the issues anytime soon. The tunes issuing from the police authorities appear an uncomfortable music not in sync with their supposed roles. The government and community leaders should not allow this degenerate any further before it starts to claim lives.