37.8 C
Nigeria
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

In Anambra, Villagers Kick As NCS Controller Whisks Away Inmate to Unknown Destination

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

The leadership of Abba Community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra have raised an alarm over the unannounced whisking away of an indigene the community, Chief Pius Nweke, from the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), Onitsha Correctional Centre, where he was remanded, to an unknown destination.

The President-General of the Abba Town Union (A.T.U.), Mr. Ekwuagana Alexander, raised the alarm in a press release issued to newsmen in Awka, in which he also noted that the indigene’s disappearance from the correctional center had constituted a serious source of worry to the family and the entire Community.

The PG went memory lane to narrate the circumstances surrounding Chief Nweke’s conviction, and how he was recently transferred from Awka Correctional Centre to Onitsha Correctional Centre on the approval of the court. He also narrated how he was eventually whisked away from the Onitsha Correctional Centre on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, by a group of armed persons led by the Controller of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Awka Correctional Centre, Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick.

He further lamented that Chief Nweke, who is also an industrialist and MD/CEO of the Best Aluminum Manufacturing Company, had earlier been denied access to his family, friends, personal physician, and legal practitioners while he was at the Onitsha Correctional Centre.

While noting that the torments Chief Nweke was subjected to and his recent transfer from the correctional centre to an unknown destination may not be unconnected with the age-old land dispute between Abba Community and Ukpo community; the PG, in the press release, further speculated that the Controller of the Correctional Centre, Mr. Patrick who led and videotaped the operation, might have been working as a paid agent of person(s) from Ukpo Community who are working behind the scene to see that Chief Pius Nweke dies in custody so that they can take the said disputed land, having seen Nweke as one of the frontline helpers of his Abba community in the litigations affecting the land.

He also warned that the Nigerian Correctional Centre should be held responsible if anything happens to Chief Nweke.

Titled “Whisking Away of Chief Pius Nweke (Ikemba): The Nigeria Correctional Service Is to Be Held Responsible Should Anything Untoward Happen to Him”, the statement read fully:

“On Tuesday, 27th June 2023, a group of armed personnel led by the Controller of the Nigerian Correctional Service Awka Correctional Centre, Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick purportedly acting on the instructions of the Controller-General of the Nigeria Correctional Service whisked away Chief Pius Nweke (an Abba son and the holder of the title of Ikemba of Abba Town) from the Onitsha Correctional Centre where he is an inmate to a destination yet to be established.

“Preliminary inquiries suggest that Chief Pius Nweke may be on his way to Kuje Correctional Centre, FCT Abuja and the reason for this sudden movement is yet not clear. Since he was whisked away, the members of the family of Chief Pius Nweke, his lawyers, friends and well-wishers have not been able to establish contact with him.

“It is recalled that the Federal High Court, Awka presided over by Honourable Justice Dr. Nnamdi O. Dimgba had on 14th June 2023 sentenced Chief Pius Nweke (Ikemba) to ten (10) years imprisonment with an option of Thirty Million Naira (N30,000,000) fine for the offence of unlawful possession of a firearm and another three (3) months imprisonment without option of fine for the offence of unlawful possession of ammunition which sentencing was preceded by an earlier conviction of Chief Pius Nweke.

“Subsequent to the conviction of Chief Pius Nweke, the trial court revoked his bail and remanded him at the Correctional Centre Awka to await the sentencing hearing scheduled at a later date by the Honourable Court.

“In the meantime, an application made on notice to the prosecution, filed on the 2nd day of June 2023 and seeking the relief of the Court for the transfer of Chief Pius Nweke from the Nigerian Correctional Service Correctional Centre Awka to Nigerian Correctional Service Correctional Centre Onitsha upon materials in the affidavit in support of the application including consideration about his health, the trial Court graciously granted the application of Chief Pius Nweke on the 7th day of June 2023 and this was without any objection by the prosecution. This order of the Honourable Court was served on the Controller, Correctional Centre, Awka on the 8th day of June 2023.

“As a consequence, after the sentencing of Chief Pius Nweke on 14th June 2023, he was taken straight to the Correctional facility at Onitsha consistent with the subsisting order of the court for his transfer to the facility.

“While Chief Pius Nweke was an inmate in the Correctional facility at Awka, the Controller, Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick was wont to deny Chief Pius Nweke access to family, friends, personal physician and legal practitioners claiming that he was acting on superior orders.

“It is instructive that the Controller of the Correctional Centre Awka, Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick to the best of our knowledge does not have a previous personal relationship with Chief Pius Nweke.

“This circumstance gives us reason to believe that he is and has been working as a paid agent of the person(s) from the Ukpo community working behind the scene to see that Chief Pius Nweke dies in custody so that they can take the large parcel of Agu Abba land belonging to Abba community which Chief Pius Nweke is one of the frontline helpers of his Abba community in the litigations affecting the land.

“Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick was not pleased or in fact, incensed by the order of the court granting the transfer of Chief Pius Nweke from the Nigerian Correctional Service Correctional Centre Awka to the Nigerian Correctional Service Correctional Centre Onitsha that he refused to comply with the order from the day the order was served on him. Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick appeared determined to set himself on a collision course with the court order if not for the intervention of the sentencing hearing that cropped up whereupon Chief Nweke was moved to the Correctional facility at Onitsha on commitment and in compliance with the order to the disappointment of Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick.

“It was therefore not a surprise that Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick personally led the operation of the transfer of Chief Pius Nweke from the Correctional Centre at Onitsha to God knows where. Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick was seen taking pictures of the inmate movement of Chief Pius Nweke which he will send to his sponsors for more reward.

“We are minded to wonder what could have otherwise motivated the top management of the Nigeria Correctional Service to have acted so brazenly and without regard to the subsisting order of the Federal High Court, Awka which in clear and uncertain terms had commanded the transfer of Chief Nweke from Awka to the Correctional facility at Onitsha.

“Where the Correctional Service is not agreeable to an order of the court on the place of custody of an inmate, the Service is under obligation in line with the rule of law to approach the court for a review of its order instead of acting in a manner capable of undermining the rule of law, the foundation of our democracy by their transferring Chief Nweke outside its Onitsha facility when it has not been established that Chief Nweke was unruly or security risk to the Custodial Centre.

“If Chief Nweke was neither unruly, troublesome nor a security risk what could have prompted Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick to procure the Controller-General of the Nigeria Correctional Service to DECREE his transfer without regard to his health which was one of the reasons for the order of the Federal High Court if not to please his paymasters, jeopardize the health of Chief Nweke and possibly bring about his death? We have it on good authority that Mr. Chukwuemeka was fully mobilized by the Ukpo community to do this hatchet job.

“The travails of Chief Pius Nweke (Ikemba) and the people of the Abba community are not unconnected with their Agu Abba land dispute which the Ukpo community joined in 1985 as a party.

“When the matter started before the Nigerian civil war, the dispute was between the Abba and Ukwulu Communities. Then, the Ukpo community testified in favour of the Ukwulu community and Ukwulu lost. The case had to start all over after the war because the judgment delivered some days after Biafra had been declared was nullified by a decree of the Federal Government.

“The men and women of the Abba community have become endangered species when they rejected a monetary offer coming from Prince Arthur Eze to forego their patrimony. Ever since June 2019, various institutions and apparatus of Government both at the State and Federal levels have been deployed to subjugate, victimize, intimidate, and harass men and women of the Abba community to stampede and pressure them to abandon their quest to reclaim their ancestral home.

“Many have been locked up in police custody in Awka and Abuja; some have been charged to different Courts in Anambra State on trumped-up charges. The Abba community market and farmlands have been overrun with the popular Abba Junction being renamed with the complicity of State Government officials. Even the name ‘’Abba’’ was not allowed to appear in the State Government mounted signposts to indicate direction to Abba homeland.

“In 2021, the President General of Abba Town Union was abducted in his office by men later identified as officers of the former SARS, Awkuzu. He was kept in the custody of SARS and later Custodial Centre Onitsha for a cumulative period of 82 days.

“The Abba community where Chief Nweke hails from is deeply worried that the life of Chief Pius Nweke is in grave danger by the undue interest of the top management of the Nigeria Correctional Centre and Mr. Chukwuemeka Patrick in particular in this matter. The constant attacks on Chief Pius Nweke are to subdue him to bow before a Pharaoh having been thought to be the arrowhead of the opposition of the Abba community in the litigations for the defence of their ancestral home.

“Chief Pius Nweke, even at the time of his conviction, and for more than forty years before his conviction, is a well-known industrialist who has in his employ, over 1,500 staff, with many people under his scholarship programme.

“He is the Managing Director of Best Aluminum Manufacturing Company Ltd – a foremost Aluminum Manufacturing Company east of Niger. He is happily married with children and has an aged mother to look after.

“We want the world to be notified that the Nigerian Correctional Service is to be held responsible for any ill health, impairment or death happening to Chief Pius Nweke (Ikemba).”

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles