By Musa Sunusi Ahmad

The Major Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has expressed shock and consternation at the reported threats being made against the life of one of Nigeria’s best known Philanthropists  and politicians- Prince Ned Nwoko by some forces allegedly opposed to his fast rising status in the contemporary society.  

The Rights group said the planned arraignment of the serving Commissioner for Land and Urban development of Enugu State Dr. Victor CHUKWUEMEKA NNAM over alleged forgery was a gimmick by some land speculators and their collaborators in Enugu State to discredit him because of his war against illegal land grabs. HURIWA has asked the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami SAN not to allow an innocent man to be roped in into a phantom charge by a compromised unit of the Nigerian Police who are doing the bidding of some powerful and rich land speculators in Enugu State, South East of Nigeria. 

The Rights group said the security forces including the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu and the Director General of the Department of States Services Malam Yusuf Bichi Magaji should as a matter of national urgency, take immediate steps and far reaching actions to investigate the allegations because of the dangerous times that we are in whereby the value of life in Nigeria has been sacrificed on the alter of mischief and organised charade by series of armed non state actors in collaboration with certain reactionary forces embedded in some levels of government in Nigeria. 

In a media Statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said on no account should these reported threats be taken for granted given the trajectories of violent incidents and cocktails of killings that have occured in the sleepy town of Idumuje Ugboko in Delta State as consequences of some fratricidal discord over traditional stool and other land ownership related disputes for which some suspects have already been charged before the Federal High Court, Abuja division for terror related charges. 

HURIWA said that for months, we have expressed concern about series of demonizing and highly incendiary newspaper articles and news materials obviously sponsored to graphically depict Prince Ned Nwoko as an insatiable land grabber and obviously erroneously blaming him for the decisions of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami(SAN) to institute charges of terror related offences slammed on some persons connected allegedly  with the fratricidal land and traditional stool related disputes in Idumuje Ugboko in Delta State whereby the ex- Federal House of Representatives member and the UK trained Maritime Lawyer is building the first of its kind Sports and Science University known as STARS UNIVERSITY with forty percent equity conceded to the catchment area of Idumuje Ugboko which is the ancestral home of the prominent lawyer Prince Ned Nwoko.  

“By this media Statement,  on behalf of over ten thousand registered members and three thousand affiliate associations, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) is specially appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct his security chiefs to transparently and comprehensively investigate these allegations of threats to the lives of Prince Ned Nwoko,  his family members and associates.  We live in a season of organised killings and the security forces should not take it lying low. We do not expect that the security forces will fail to take pre-emptive action to prevent any sort of killings from happening rather than do nothing until someone is hurt and then to spring into action. These allegations are serious enough to be given the highest priority”. 

HURIWA quoting media reports stated that ,Hon. Ned Nwoko had fingered RainOil’s founder, Gabriel Ogbechie in connection with an alleged plot to murder him (Nwoko). The person been fingered has already denied the allegations. 

HURIWA  recalled that In a press statement released by Nwoko’s media office and made available to newsmen, Ogbechie was said to have already been arrested and drilled by the police at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,  Police Command, Abuja, to tell them what he knew about the despicable plot to assassinate Prince Ned Nwoko.

Nwoko’s statement is in reaction to a press conference held by Dr Gabriel Ogbechie of Rain Oil and the subsequent publications over the communal crisis at Idumuje-Ugboko, in Aniocha North local government area of Delta state, as well as his denial of being arrested by the police .

The statement reads in full: “The attention of Honourable Prince Ned Nwoko, through phone calls , text messages and mails, have been drawn to a press conference held by Dr Gabriel Ogbechie of Rain Oil and the subsequent publications over the communal crisis at Idumuje-Ugboko, in Aniocha North local government area of Delta state “.

HURIWA recalled that the media office of Prince Ned Nwoko graphically presented the alleged plots against his life thus: “To put the records straight,  a prisoner in Kuje Prison overheard his fellow inmates discussing a plan to assassinate Prince Ned Nwoko. These imnates were hoodlums arrested for the mayhem in Idumuje-Ugboko in 2017 and they are now facing trials for murder and terrorism in a Federal High Court , Abuja. Ogbechie is widely known to have arranged bail for some of these gangsters and he has published same in the media.

As the hoodlums talked about their barbaric and demonic plans, they also mentioned names of their collaborators and sponsors . References were made to an oil magnate in Idumuje-Ugboko, who owns chains of filling stations and that is Dr Ogbechie. Both Ogbechie and Prince Ned hail from this village.

Their fellow inmate and whistle blower who overheard their devious plot did not know Prince Ned. But he knew Prince Ned Nwoko ‘s wife, Regina Daniels Nwoko, to be the Brand Ambassador to a product, a brand owned by a member of his church. So, he quickly sent a text message to the church member on what he had heard. It was the church member who then alerted Regina Daniels Nwoko,prompting her to inform her husband.”

HURIWA said: “We are saying it loud and clear that the heads of the security forces must up their investigative game to seriously consider activating immediate but thorough forensic investigations of these plots against Prince Ned Nwoko who has over the past few Months faced unwarranted attacks against his person only because of his near infinite generosity to his immediate community and for speaking out against oppressive and reactionary forces bent on enslaving poor people in Idumuje Ugboko and subjecting them to odious indignities and humiliation all because they are standing on their grounds of principles against what they perceived as attempts to hijack their revered traditional institution by certain interested parties for their personal aggrandizement”. 

HURIWA had in a letter to the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami titled “RE: CHARGE NO: FHC/EN/CR/33/2020: HONOURABLE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHOULD NOT ALLOW INJUSTICE AND FRAME UP” told the Federal Attorney that it got a letter from the legal representatives of the serving Land Commussioner in Enugu and it carried out independent investigation and found out that the man is being framed up by an apparently heavily compromised and financially induced police operatives masquerading as genuine anti corruption crusaders. 

HURIWA disclosed the contents of the letter as follows: “We are a firm of Legal Practitioners and Solicitors and our services have been retained by Dr. Surveyor Chukwemeka Nnam (the defendant in the above referenced charge) who shall hereinafter be referred to as our client and upon whose express instruction we forward this appeal to you

Respectfully Sir, we write to specially appeal for your intervention in charge No: FHC/ENCR/33/2020 wherein our client is charged with an eight count charge and which charge is a ploy and an antic by some desperate land poacher/ grabbers within the Enugu municipal and its environs to perfect their fraction and illegal land grab activities and vendetta against our client, who as the commissioner for lands, Enugu State is strongly determined to sanitize the Ministry of Lands and curb or possibly eradicate illegal land dealings in Enugu State which has over the years occastioned a lot of crisis within the state”.

The Rights group said the a BRIF HISTORY OF THE COMMISSIONER’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE REGISTRATION OF ARUGA LAYOUT:

According to our client, sometimes in the year 2017 while he was carrying  on his private practice as a  registered Surveyor, he was approached by the representatives of Obunagu village of Obeagu community in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State in the company of their counsel Gab Ogbe Esq. as well as one Honourable member of the Enugu State House of Assembly Hon. Paul Ogbe with a request on him assist in the registration of their already parceled layout name Aruga Layout with the state Ministry while accepting the brief, our client handed over to the said  representatives of the village above mentioned a list of the requirements necessary for the registrations of the layout with the Enugu State Ministry of Lands which requirements include but not limited to a Newspaper publication of the intended registration, affidavits of facts to be sworn by the representatives of the village among a host of other requirements.

Following the above and upon the satisfaction of the requirements as contained in the list handed over to the representatives of the said village, all the documents necessary for the registration of the said Aruga Layout on behalf of the Obunagu Village of Obeagu Community were summited to our Client’s office by Hon. Paul Ogbe and one Mr. John  Onyechi both of whom were facilitating for and representing the Obunagu Village of Obeagu Community.

It was upon the receipt of the documents so required for the registration of the layout and having certified the documents as being complete and regular on the face of it, that our client after the expiration of the twenty-one days period as contained in the Newspaper publication proceeded with his brief and successfully registered the layout on behalf of the entire Obunagu Village of Obeagu Community with the Enugu State Ministry of Lands.”

ON the  ACTUAL BACKGROUND/ IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE CASE IN CHARGE NO: FHC/EN/CR/33/2020: The lawyers stated as follows: 

“It is our client’s brief, which we verily believe and know same to be a fact that sometime in September 2019, our client was appointed by the Governor as the Commissioner for Lands and considering the overwhelming land related crisis within the state, our client was given a stern mandate by the Governor to sanitize the Ministry of Lands and ensure that the activities of land grabbers is reduced to the barest minimum or entirely eradicated.

It was in discharge of the duties of his office as the Commissioner for Lands, Enugu State Ministry of Lands that our client discovered to his chagrin a humongous land fraud involving about one Thousand and Ninety-Seven ( 1, 097 Ha) Hectares of land which fraud was perpetuated by an estate developing company known as private Estate International West Africa Ltd. Represented by its alter ego, Mr Kingsley Eze.”

“Being in the know that the allocation of such a large expense of land within Enugu State must be approved by the State Executive Council and having discovered that no such approved was obtained prior to the allocation of the said land Private Estate International West Africa Ltd., and in appreciation of the lingering crisis between the Amechi Awkunanaw and Obeagu communities on one side and Private Estate International West Africa Ltd. On the other side, vis-a vis the deluge of petitions forwarded by the concerned communities to the office of the Governor including various Newspaper publications over the said land which covers almost the entirely of the two Communities, attention of the State Governor was drawn to the details of the alleged  fraud and subsequently revoked the CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY”

HURIWA  said the GOAL INTENDED TO ACHIEVE THROUGH THIS CHARGE are as follows: “Sir, it is a common knowledge that the fight against corruption does not go without corruption fighting back through the perpetrators. This is the case in this charge as the Private Estate International West Africa Ltd. and its after ego Mr. Kingsley Eze are allegedly only using the judiciary as a conduit for the perfection of their fraud and illegality as above x-rayed by the institution of this charge against our client.”

“This is so because being in the know of the stance of the Executive Governor of Enugu State not to have in his cabinet any person who has a criminal charge pending against him or her before any court of law as well as appreciating the uncompromising position of our client towards sanitizing the Enugu State Ministry of Lands and ensuring a reduction in the activities of Land grabbers, the phantom charge is meant to achieve regime change in the Enugu State ministry of Land and Urban development headed now by the anti corruption warrior Dr.Victor CHUKWUEMEKA NNAM”. 

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