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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Land Grabbing: Anambra Villagers Protest Alleged Excesses of Blue Shield Security Boss, Say He Hired Sex Workers for Protest


By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Men and women numbering over one thousand, on Friday, November 24, staged a peaceful protest against what they described as the excesses of Mr. Jeff Nweke, the MD/CEO of the Blue Shield Security outfit.

The protesters, who include the aged and the young from Mbananọ in Enugwu-Agidi, Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, marched to the State Criminal Investigation Department (State CID); the State Police Headquarters, Amawbia; the Headquarters of the Department of State Service (DSS); and the State Government House, with placards with different inscriptions, to help drive home their message.

Mbananọ, as a quarter in Enugwu-Agidi, made up four villages — Igbollo, Obunagu Achalla, Iruobieli, and Ifite, said their grievances border on illegal land grabbing activities, intimidation, and other violence conducts allegedly being perpetrated by Nweke of Ezinano community in Awka, the capital city of the State.

The protesters’ placards had such inscriptions as “Stop Land Grabbing and Stealing of Enugwu-Agidi Land”, “Jeff Nweke is a Notorious Criminal Land Grabber”, “Ọzọ Jeff Nweke, Stop Stealing People’s Land in Anambra State”, “Our Able Governor, Please Save Enugwu-Agidi from Cult King, Ọzọ Jeff Nweke”, “Ọzọ Jeff Nweke Is a Notorious Cult Leader Linked to Many Brutal Deaths of Innocent People in Anambra”, “Ọzọ Jeff Nweke, Stop Shooting Police Officers”, “Land Grabber Jeff Nweke, Leave Enugwu-Agidi Land Alone”, “Police Is Protecting Law-abiding Citizens, Not Criminals”, “Awka Is Peaceful, Stop Creating Insecurity, Jeff Nweke”, among others. Some of the placards also show pictures of some hospitalized persons who were in a critical condition after they were attacked by thugs allegedly sent by the accused, as well as spills of fresh blood.

The protesters also chanted some solidarity and lamentful songs as they marched, expressing their grievances and bearing witness to the alleged harrowing tale of land grabbing, intimidation, and violence allegedly orchestrated by Nweke, whom they accused of using his Blue Shield Security outfit as a weapon in his quest for dominance and opulence.

This Friday protest is coming exactly two days after another group, who claimed to hail from Ezinano Community in Awka, protested over what they described as mindless killings of their relatives, and during which they also accused two senior officers of the Anambra State Police Command of aiding and abetting bribery and corruption in Awka, as well as working hand-in-hand with the people responsible for crimes in the area.

Addressing newsmen at the State’s Police Headquarters in Amawbia during their own protest on Friday, a stakeholder in the community, Mr. Peter Onuekwusi, who spoke on behalf of Mbananọ Community, laid bare a tale of anguish, terror, intimidation, and violence allegedly suffered by the community in the hands of Mr. Nweke, while he also implied that the protest was not merely over a land dispute, but a struggle for the soul of Mbanano Community against the alleged excesses of Ọzọ Nweke.

According to him, the land dispute dates back to the year 1920 and has spanned till date, when the community members now not only contend their ancestral land with illegal land grabbers but also suffer a pervasive sense of insecurity and bloodshed.

“We are the real owners of the lands,” Onuekwusi asserted, presenting three court judgments in their favour against Ezinano Community, including the one won at the West African Court of Appeal, and another recent rulling that declared the matter statute barred, implying that the appellants could no longer institute fresh suit on the matter.

He explained that the court judgements (spanning from 1920 to 2019) are legal foundation of their claim of ownership of the land, adding that the robust judgements remain binding, especially with the Ezinano Community failing to appeal the latest judgment since 2019.

“We base our request on the fact that we are the real owners of the lands designated as Mbananọ lands. We have at least three judiciary judgements in our favour concerning the said land from the 1920 till 2019; all against the Ezinano Community Awka where Ọzọ Jeff Nweke hails from.

“It will be pertinent to note that the last judgment was received from the Court of Appeal in 2019. Ezinano Community Awka has not appealed against this latest judgement, which shows they have accepted the ruling given, as it has been over four years since the judgement,” he clarified.

While noting that the Ezinano Community has no single document or court judgement to back up their claim of ownership of the land, Mr. Onuekwusi said Ọzọ Nweke had been parading a document purported to be Supreme Court’s Appeal Summons on the matter, but which is rather a mere request letter for processing Appeal Summons at the Supreme Court.

“It is apparent and very clear that Ozo Jeff Nweke was acting on his own and dubiously made it look as if he was acting on behalf of the Ezinano Community Awka,” he clarified.

Mr. Onuekwusi, however, said the struggle took a sinister turn four years ago, given the new pattern of land banditry marked by violence, which Ọzọ Nweke and his accomplices, one of whom was identified as Ọzọ Izuchukwu Okafor (from Enugwu-Agidi), began to adopt. He said since then, Ọzọ Nweke’s alleged criminal empire, epitomized by his Blue Shield Security outfit, has transformed Enugwu-Agidi’s serene forests into battlegrounds.

“Since then, armed thugs and bulldozers, under Nweke’s command, have been wreaking havoc in our community, rendering the indigenes defenseless against the destruction of our ancestral lands,” he added.

Speaking further, Onuekwusi recounted some of the violence and terror allegedly perpetrated by Ọzọ Nweke, beginning with one of June 2021, when he said he (Ọzọ Nweke) and some armed thugs invaded the Agu Obibia farmland in Enugwu-Agidi, abducted villagers who were on the farm, and bulldozed their crops and economic trees. He added that July 2021 saw motorcycle thefts, snatching of phones and physical assaults against the villagers in that same farmland when the accused returned with his men, and after which he allegedly threatened to kill anyone else he would see on the land henceforth.

Going further, Mr. Onuekwusi said November 2021 witnessed armed thugs driving away Enugwu-Agidi indigenes from Obiangwo Farmland where they were farming; and in February 2022, Nweke’s thugs harmed Mr. Nnaemeka Obike and Mr. Obiajulu Asiegbu at Okpuno Farmland and Obibia Farmland respectively; while March 2022 saw the armed thugs chasing away the people of Igbollo Village who had gone to check their ancestral lands.

While noting that June 2022 saw Mrs. Chinwoke, an Enugwu-Agidi indigene, harmed at Imeagu Land by thugs allegedly sent by Ozo Nweke; Mr. Onuekwusi revealed that the crescendo of Chief Nweke’s alleged reign of terror reached its zenith on September 28, 2023 when armed thugs, allegedly deployed by him, reportedly shot and injured three policemen escorting community representatives. This shocking act, he said, led to the criminal prosecution of the arrested assailants, who confessed to being equipped by Nweke with illegal firearms.

He also recounted the series of efforts so far made on the matter by the police.

“The current Commissioner of Police, in order to avert breakdown of law, order and peace in the area, had invited Mbanano Community Enugwu-Agidi and Ezinano Community Awka to mediate in the matter. Ezinano Community Awka did not honour the invitation while Mbanano Community Enugwu-Agidi did, with the Igwe of Enugwu-Agidi as the leader of the delegation,” he said.

According to Onuekwusi, the complexities of the situation extend beyond physical violence, as he also revealed a web of corruption, with Nweke allegedly using his influence to compromise police officers and manipulate the legal system.

“When the Police resisted his enticement, he concocted evil plans and sponsored a protest to tarnish and ridicule the image of the Police in Anambra State,” he said, referring to the recent protest by some naked women, whom he described as sex workers operating in Awka, allegedly hired and handsomely paid by Nweke to disguise as Awka women and expose their bodies by going naked during their own allegedly sponsored protest.

The women who protested naked on Wednesday

When asked what they want from the government and the security agencies on the matter, Onuekwusi, who also presented a written document on the essence of the protest said: “One of the aims of this protest is to tell the Inspector-General of Police not to succumb to the people who are mounting pressure on him to redeploy the police officers whom, he said, have turned down Nweke’s bribery overtures and and whom he (Nweke) allegedly seek to influence the deployment of their replacements through some retired senior Police Officers in his payroll.

“Ozo Jeff Nweke’s delusionary activities, if unchecked, would definitely lead to breakdown of law and order in Anambra State Capital territory, which includes Awka and Enugwu-Agidi.

“We plead that urgent action be taken to stop the activities of Ozo Jeff Nweke and his cohorts as it is gradually expanding to kidnapping incidents. Recent kidnapping incidents around Enugwu-Agidi shows that the victims were either stationed or taking through parts of Mbanano Community Lands under Ozo Jeff Nweke’s illegal control.”

“We humbly request for urgent intervention to restrict and ban Ozo Jeff Nweke and his thugs/Militia from our Mbanano Community lands, Enugwu-Agidi. We also request a comprehensive investigation, subsequent proscription, and revocation of the license granted to operate the Blue Shield Security Outfit,” he added.

Addressing the protesters on behalf of the State Commissioner of Police, the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, ACP Anietie Eyoh, thanked them for their peaceful conduct, while also assuring them that the Police will look into their matter.

All efforts made by this reporter, Izunna Okafor, to get the reactions of the accused, Ọzọ Nweke, proved abortive, as his phone number was not connecting, while he was yet to respond to the text message sent to him as at the time of this publication.

More photos from the scene of the protest:

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