Nigeria Police Ignores Court Judgment, Fails To Release Men Illegally Detained On Orders Of Billionaire, Ned Nwoko

The Nigeria Police Force has refused to release two residents of Idumuje-Ugboko in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, Cheta Okolo and Onyeisi Isuzor, despite court judgment ordering their release, SaharaReporters has gathered.

SaharaReporters found out that Okolo and Isuzor were arrested on the orders of Nigerian billionaire and former senator, Ned Nwoko, for opposing his attempt to forcefully acquire additional 90 hectares of land from an area earmarked for all indigenes of the community.

On June 22, 2020, acting on Nwoko’s directive, the duo were arrested by the police and detained at the State Command in Asaba, the capital.

They were detained unlawfully until July 7, 2020 when they were charged to court at Isele-Uku on charge no MI/22/2020, for the offences of conspiracy and attempted murder of one Nathaniel Bama.

SaharaReporters gathered Cheta and Onyeisi were remanded by the court at the police headquarters pending the Department of Public Prosecution’s advice.

On July 7, 2020, the Nathaniel Bama, who Nwoko said was attacked by the duo, swore to an affidavit that they did not commit any crime against him.

The DPP on August 4, 2020, advised that there was no prima facie case against Cheta and Onyeisi, and recommended their release from custody.

It was further learnt that on the DPP’s advice, the magistrate court on August 5, 2020 struck out the charges against Cheta and Onyeisi and ordered their release.

Instead of releasing them, SaharaReporters gathered that the duo were transferred to the Force Criminal Investigative Department in Abuja on the orders of Nwoko, where they have been in custody for weeks.

Having gotten wind that the DPP has again advised that there was no prima facie case against them, the former lawmaker quickly got officials of Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, to file a charge of terrorism and murder against Cheta and Onyeisi at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

“One may ask, when did community dispute become a terrorist act that the office of the AGF had to personally get involved in? Hand of Esau, voice of Jacob.

“Even if there is any semblance of truth in the charge (which is not conceded), why file a charge in Abuja for a dispute that wholly arose in Delta State? Where will the Abuja FHC find territorial jurisdiction? Again, hand of Jacob, voice of Esau.

“Ned Nwoko influenced these new charges because he has not been able to buy the DPP in Delta State,” a resident of the community told SaharaReporters.

He said all efforts by the community to get the duo released on bail had been rebuffed by the police.

SaharaReporters recalled residents of Idumuje Ugboko had earlier accused Nwoko of using police and Ministry of Justice officials to dubiously harass, intimidate and lock up elders and sons of the town.

In a “Save Our Souls” petition signed by Jerry Isichel and Daniel Osakwe and submitted to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, the residents accused Nwoko and the police of malicious destruction of their property, disobedience to the order of the court, assault occasioning harm, abuse of public office, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and conduct likely to cause a breach of peace.

The petition reads:

“Ned Nwoko has visited untold cruelty on the people of Idumuje Ugboko. He has used the police and Justice Ministry to dubiously harass, intimidate and lock up our elders and sons, charging us with the most heinous crimes in Nigeria’s criminal penal code, terrorism and murder.

Our sons have been languishing in jail for the past three years and denied due process because Ned Nwoko has used his billions of naira to compromise justice and the police in Delta State and Abuja.

“In the year 2000, Ned Nwoko applied for and was magnanimously allocated 34 hectares of land, free of charge by the community. In his application, he expressed a desire to build a dairy farm. Chief of the guidelines for this allocation as, administered by a Land Committee, is that any individual allotted land in that development area of the town must utilize the land within five years, for the purpose it was allotted.

Any contravention of this guideline will result in the said land reverting automatically to the community. It is noteworthy that 20 years on, Ned Nwoko is yet to build the dairy farm. And not once did the community insist that the land be reclaimed from him as stipulated in the Land Committee guideline.

“Sometime in 2015, Ned Nwoko came with another scheme. This time he needs 90 hectares of land to build a university. The whole community home or abroad, rose in unison to say no!

The community advised him to utilise the initial 34 hectares for whatever proposed project he had. To make up the 90 hectares of land he is hell bent on forcefully taking, he went beyond the area mapped out for development by the community. He encroached on the Owu kindred ancestral land. The community, led by the town’s union maintained that an individual cannot be bigger than the community.

Therefore, it insisted that Ned cannot forcefully take all the community’s development land and also add people’s ancestral lands. He then resorted to oppression, intimidation, arrests and incarceration of leading members of the town’s union and leaders of thought who are vehemently opposed to his land-grabbing antics.

“He imports police from Abuja to ambush and arrest the men who oppose him, then transfer them to Abuja and have them locked up indefinitely without due process. Many of them were held in Kuje Prison on trumped up charges of terrorism and murder for months, while others were unjustly locked up for upward of two years in Agbor Prison, Delta State.

“It is imperative to place on record that the Nigerian police has become a willing tool in Ned’s malevolent schemes to totally annihilate any opposition in his inordinate quest to forcefully dispossess the ordinary people of Idumuje Ugboko of the ancestrally bequeathed possession.”

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