A resident of Idumuje-Ugboko in the Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta state, Raymond Omesiete has spent the last six months in prison for allegedly resisting Nigerian billionaire and former lawmaker, Ned Nwoko’s attempt to forcefully acquire additional 90 hectares of land from an area earmarked for all indigenes of the community.
SaharaReporters gathered that Raymond was arrested by the police acting on Nwoko’s directive on November 23, 2020 and detained at the State Command in Asaba, the capital.
He was later transferred using a private jet to the Force Criminal Investigative Department in Abuja.
Raymond was detained illegally until 19th of January, 2021 when he was charged to court and remanded in Suleja prison.
“After his court sitting on the 19th of January, 2021, he was remanded in Suleja prison and up until now, 3 sittings later, he has been denied bail for no reason.
“Raymond deserves his freedom. He is a young promising, innocent man. He doesn't deserve the undue incarceration. As we talk, his health has been in total jeopardy with him missing a date with death twice in a roll now.
“On the 19th of January, 2021 he took his first plea and the judge of Court 6, Federal High Court Abuja, Justice Okon E. Abang remanded him in prison. On the 19th of February, 2021 being the next adjourned date of the case, he pleaded for bail which was not granted by the court for no reason.
“The court was adjourned to March 25, 2021 which didn't sit as Justice Okon Abang was said to be sick. We were then given a date – 27th of May, 2021. As it is with the judiciary on strike, Raymond's fate is on the balance,” one of his friends told SaharaReporters.
Recently, a former beauty queen, Pamela Ifejoku, initiated the hashtag #freeOkeyIfejoku over the detention of his father, Okey Ifejoku and 9 other community leaders of Idumeje Ugboko village for years, allegedly on the order of the former lawmaker.
Ifejoku in a viral video on her Twitter page accused Nwoko of putting her father in jail and causing her mother to spend her birthday in prison because their community resisted his attempt at land-grabbing.
Pamela, who was bestowed MBGN Miss Tourism after she emerged second runner-up when she contested as Miss Abuja in the 2019 Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant, demanded her father’s freedom.
She accused Nwoko and the police of malicious destruction of 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.
“Sometime in 2017, Ned Nwoko instigated a crisis in Idumuje Ugboko Community in Delta state, as a result of the community's firm refusal to give him additional 90 hectares of land, having mismanaged the over hectares earlier giving to him.
"In the ensuing crisis, it was alleged that one Cyprian Kumaorun was killed. While this was ongoing, my father, Okey Ifejoku was several kilometres away in Asaba. He was neither present at the scene of the crisis nor participated in any alleged fight.
"However, since then, Ned Nwoko has made it a point of duty to terrorise the community until they fall on their knees and offer him the land on a platter.
"By virtue of Mr. Okey Ifejoku's (My father) position as the President of the Idumuje Ugboko Development Union, he has borne the greatest oppression from Ned Nwoko. Ned Nwoko has unlawfully used the instruments of state, particularly the Nigeria police in Delta State and Abuja, to oppress the helpless members of Idumuje-Ugboko Community.
“While this was going, Ned Nwoko moved to Abuja and got officers of the FCID Abuja to arrest my father Mr.Okey Ifejoku and 9 other members of the Idumuje Ugboko community. The 10 defendants were arrested, detained at FCID for up to six months, before they were charged to court in two batches, by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for alleged terrorism and alleged murder of Cyprian Kumaorun," she had said