As the five-man panel set up by the Federal Government to investigate petitions of grave human rights violations against Emeka Offor, one of Nigeria’s most controversial government contractors, presses ahead with its work, a large section of the Oraifite community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State has expressed concern over the unprofessional behavior of some policemen involved in the special assignment.
Though members of the Oraifite community say they still have confidence in the leader of the panel, Yusuf Kolo, an Assistant Commissioner of Police who commands the Inspector General of Police Special Tactical Squad (IGPSTS), they are worried about the behavior of some police officers assisting the panel with field reports.
The leader of Concerned Oraifite People, Chuks Momah, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), told SaharaReporters that the conduct of a team of police officers led by Superintendent Collins Eruogu, an indigene of Imo State, “calls for concern.”
The Eruogu-led team, based in Onitsha, Anambra State, is acting on behalf of the Kolo panel whose members are reportedly saddled with other serious national responsibilities across Nigeria.
“It is worrisome that Offor ordered 11 persons from his faction in Oraifite summoned to Abuja on June 28 to answer charges against them not to honor the invitation, boasting that the police would rather come to Oraifite to take evidence from them on his terms, and things played out just like that,” Mr. Momah said in an exclusive interview.
Our correspondent reported that police officers did go to the Oraifite Civic Center on Monday, June 26, and heard from the 11 persons led by Sunday Igboanuzue, a Lagos-based trader, and Tony Obi, chairman of the Emeka Offor Foundation who used to work as a forest guard, as well as an Onitsha-based trader, Okey Ufondu, who is also the father of Mr. Offor’s third wife, Adaora. Offor married her on January 3, 2014.
SaharaReporters was reliably informed that the real reason why Mr. Offor fought desperately to prevent the 11 persons from going to Abuja was his fear that one of them, Chimezie Okoye, could be detected by the police in Abuja and consequently arrested. Some members of the Oraifite community allege that Chimezie Okoye was second in command to Olisa Ifedike alias Ofeakwu, the deadliest kidnapper in Anambra State who was arrested in September 2012. Mr. Offor extricated him from police detention in 2012, and even arrived at the Oraifite Improvement Union meeting with him in the same vehicle on June 26, 2017.
One of members of the community present at the meeting with police officers said Mr. Ufondu openly stated at the forum that if were in Mr. Offor’s shoes, he would have killed some of his critics and damned the consequences.
Amazed at the vituperations of Mr. Offor’s henchmen right before investigating police officers, a number of people walked out in anger. Those who left the forum included the immediate past President General of the Oraifite Improvement Union (OIU), J.A.P. Okolo, a medical doctor who is also the President of the Association of Anambra Town Unions (ASATU) and former legislator in Ebonyi State where he previously served as Special Adviser to the Ebonyi State Governor on Agriculture.
Mr. Momah said, “I hope and pray that the police officers will at the end of the day work in a way that will bring glory to the police leadership by providing a robust answer to the question of what happened to some 22 Oraifite persons who disappeared suddenly before the advent of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. And some of the disappeared are now presumed dead.” He provided details of some of the missing persons and those who returned after long and grueling experiences at the hands of police officers, especially men of the Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS).
The victims of Mr. Offor’s highhandedness includes Christian Okwumuo, an architect based in Nnewi, who was whisked away on January 3, 2014, at a burial in Umuezopi by some of the over 50 policemen assigned to Mr. Offor in his hometown. Mr. Okwumuo was a political activist who refused to join Emeka Offor’s political lineup in Oraifite.
There is the pathetic case of Mrs. Elizabeth Nwandu, a widow since 2009. The police arrested her three sons reportedly on instructions of Mr. Offor and his acolytes. All three persons are presumed dead. The first was Ikechukwu, who returned from overseas in 2012. Arrested on trumped-up charges, Ikechukwu disappeared a few weeks after his arrival. His brother, Chukwuebuka, was arrested in 2013, also on trumped-up charges. In 2015, Chibueze Nwandu, a Lagos-based trader, was arrested. He has not been sighted since then.
Mrs. Ngozi Noel Obi, a widow from Awo village in Oraifite, counts herself lucky for being detained for only three days at the Anambra State Command headquarters in Awka for demanding that Mr. Offor’s mother pay her for some bottles of locally distilled gin popularly known as kaikai or ogogoro. Her case could have been like that of Mrs. Evelyn Adili whose son, Nonso, a dealer in old auto spare parts, was arrested by Mr. Offor’s police detail, together with his brother, Ndubuisi. Their offence was that their mother had the temerity to demand the repayment of a loan that Mr. Offor’s father reportedly took from her late husband.
Ndubuisi was released after paying a N350,000 bribe to the police in the name of “bail money” even though getting released from police detention is officially free in Nigeria. His elder brother is still missing. Mrs. Adili remains under serious threat from Mr. Offor’s people who demand that she withdraw her testimony to the police investigators.
The case of the Adilis is reminiscent of the Ekekwe brothers, Nnanna and Amobi. They were allegedly tricked to Mr. Offor’s house by one Ifeanyi Chukwulobe, a motorcycle repairer. After explaining to Mr. Offor who inquired into their means of livelihood that they were Plaster of Paris (POP) craftsmen, they were arrested by Mr. Offor’s police and taken to the Ozubulu police station and accused of armed robbery.
Mr. Chukwulobe subsequently collected N40,000 from their mother as “bail money”. Yet, only Nnanna was released. Even so, his freedom was temporary, as he was to spend the next 9 months at the SARS office without trial. He was freed only three months ago on the order of a magistrate. Nnanna seems luckier than his brother, Amobi, who is still missing.
Also missing since 2014 when he was whisked away by policemen assigned to Offor is Obinna Adimachukwu, son of Mr. “Avenger” and Mrs. Anthonia Ifeyinwa Adimachukwu, of Isingwu quarters in Oraifite.
Another person arrested in 2014 when Mr. Offor’s close friend, Mohammed D. Abubakar, was the Inspector General of Police were Sunday Chukwumezie and Okechukwu Muozube. They were released only three months ago.
Arrested in 2014 also was Benjamin Onyemaibeya, son of Johnson Onyemaibeya who is well known by his alias of Jack Demo. A Lagos-based businessman, Benjamin was arrested for contesting to be the youth leader in the community. He was advised to stop because Mr. Offor had anointed a different candidate for the post, and he retorted, “Who is he? Is he my God?” He was quickly arrested.
A source in the community said Mr. Onyemaibeya’s cousin, Arinze Nwosu, reported his utterance to Mr. Offor. In compensation, Mr. Offor nominated Mr. Nwosu to become the Director General of the National Engineering Design Institute in Nnewi, and the Goodluck Jonathan administration wasted no time appointing him to the post in 2014.
Another person arrested since 2014 is Chinedu Ugochukwu, the younger brother of Boniface Ugochukwu, a well known pastor in the community and cousin of Johnson Onyemaibeya.
Meanwhile, SaharaReporters has obtained a list of the 11 persons who were invited to Abuja to meet with ACP Yusuf, charged with investigating Mr. Offor for serious human rights abuses. The list includes Offor’s younger brother and a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Onyebuchi Offor. He is accused, alongside Chiedu Odumegwu, Chukwudi Obunike, Nnamdi Onwuanumba and Chimezie Okoye, of strangulating Ifeanyi Okeke, a well known activist of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), for standing in their way on the day of election into the state House of Assembly in 2015. Onyebuchi Offor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was to be controversially declared winner of the election.