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|Don’t Let Them Hang My Son, He’s Innocent(60-yr-old Woman’s Plea To Ohakim, Mark by Ayemokhia: 4:59pm On Mar 11, 2010|
A 60-year-old woman, Evelyn Udofia, has made a passionate appeal to the Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, to halt plans to kill her son by hanging, saying he is not an armed robber.
She lamented that her son, Emeka Udofia, who was condemned to death on February 25, 2010, by High Court 4, Owerri, Imo State, presided over by Justice Pascal Nnadi, after spending eleven years in prison, was among others, a victim of abject poverty.
“If I had given a certain police officer (name withheld by us) who was investigating the case at one point the N50, 000, he asked me to pay for the release of my son, he wouldn’t have been condemned to death. I didn’t have such amount of money to offer,” she told Daily Sun in a recent interview.
Emeka’s travails started on March 1, 1999, when some robbers allegedly invaded the premises of Anyiam-Osigwe in Ukwuinyi village in Nkwerre, Imo State, and robbed one Chukwuma Anyiam-Osigwe of N40, 000 and five pump action guns, valued at N70, 000.
The robbers were said to have struck during a celebration in the compound.
According to the heart-broken mother, four days after the robbery, some policemen started picking some youths, especially, those who were always going to Anyiam-Osigwe’s family in search of menial jobs, as there were said to be construction works going in the compound at that period. She said her son happened to be one of the youths who were going there in search of menial job.
“He was sleeping in the house when some policemen came looking for him, alleging that he was among the boys that came to rob in Anyaim-Osigwe’s compound four days ago.” Madam Udofia alleged that the policemen arrested about 50 youths from the community and the number later pruned down to eight, after the released ones allegedly paid N50, 000, each.
Among those arrested were, twin brothers, Peter and Paul Umelo. Peter later died in prison. Other suspects are Chima Obi Uzoma, Onyebuchi Nwosu, Ugochukwu Chigbu, Ikechukwu Nwosu and Sunday Uzoukwu.
“Eight of them whose parents could not afford to pay N50, 000 were charged with robbery. Some of them were said to be under-aged. “They purposely delayed the trial for them to reach adult stage, at least, 18 years. No exhibits were found on my son,” she said amid sobs.
How did her son’s name make the list of the armed robbers? Mrs. Udofia gave an insight: “My son had a misunderstanding with a member of Anyiam-Osigwe’s family, and he vowed to implicate him in the robbery, and he did.”
She explained that after the boastful Anyiam-Osigwe realised the consequences of his action, he visited Emeka in prison to beg for forgiveness. Emeka was not the only one in the family arrested by the police in connection with the robbery. His sister, Chinyere, was also arrested and detained for a month and two weeks before she was released. There was no charge against her. Her only offence, Daily Sun learnt, was that she went to confront the person who implicated her brother.
“I sold my freezer, my domestic animals and other things before my daughter was released from detention,” she told Daily Sun. After the arrest of the eight youths, all from Umuoforola Nkwerre, the same place with Anyiam-Osigwes, police allegedly wrote a statement and forced them to sign it. One of them, Ikechukwu Nwosu, who was said to be 14 years at the time of his arrest and in primary school when the robbery occurred, was said to have confessed that police wrote the statement and included Emeka’s name and pointed a gun on his (Ikechukwu’s) head while in handcuff and asked him to sign.
He said they never read to him what they wrote before they forced him to sign. Even, the fact that he told the police that he only knew Emeka while in prison could not make them (police) to exclude his (Emeka’s) name from the statement purportedly written by him. Ikechukwu, who was said to be among those discharged by the court, was said to have confessed and explained that police forced him to implicate the four condemned youths. They are Uzoma, Emeka, Onyebuchi and Ugochukwu.
The discharged ones are, Paul, twin brother to the late Peter, Ikechukwu and Sunday. “I suspect that they discharged Paul to compensate the family for the dead Peter. The family refused to go and carry Peter’s corpse, Mrs. Udofia further said. Daily Sun gathered that in the charge No. HON.2C/2001 which started in the High Court of Nkwerre, the names of the following people were mentioned as witnesses. They are Inspector Adamu of State C.I.D, Owerri, Sergeant A. Okon of State C.I.D. Owerri, Anthony Anyiam-Osigwe of Ukwuenyi Umuofotola, Nkwerre, E.O. Anyiam-Osigwe, Charles Anyiam-Osigwe, Peace Anyiam-Fiberisma and Chukwuma Anyiam-Osigwe.
Others are Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, Mrs. Ijeoma Anyiam-Osigwe, Samuel Utoh, Josephine Obanye, Maria Ogbolu and Stephen Nneji (Assistant Superintendent of Police) attached to Nkwerre police station.
Adamu was said to have later refused to come to court as a witness because of his “personal conviction.” It was also gathered that apart from Okon, other witnesses stopped coming to court, while a former commissioner in Imo State, who hails from Owerri, represented Anyiam-Osigwe’s family in court. The case was later transferred from Nkwerre to Owerri High Court, where the judgment was finally given this year after eleven years.
Mrs. Udofia said: “Out of the 11 witnesses, only two came to court to testify. Why did they transfer the case to Owerri and not the jurisdiction, where the crime was allegedly committed? They just wanted to use their connection to pervert justice.”
She explained that when her son was charged with robbery, she had no money to hire a lawyer to defend him. It was one lawyer, Idiwugo Nwosu, who, on compassionate grounds, represented her son for the 11 years the case lasted, free of charge. Barrister Nwosu has even indicated his interest to pursue the case to the Appeal Court. “I’m calling on Governor Ohakim, the Senate President, the Speaker of House of Representatives, human rights activists and wellmeaning Nigerians, to intervene and save my son from being killed. He is not an armed robber,” she groaned.
Nwosu, who later spoke to Daily Sun said he was shocked at the judgment of Owerri High Court. He wondered why the judge could base his verdict on a statement written on behalf of Ikechukwu Nwosu by the Investigating Police Officers. According to him, Ikechukwu was in Primary four when the robbery occurred and did not know the contents of what the IPOs wrote. He disclosed that when he grew up in the prison and was shown the statement he purportedly wrote and signed, he disowned it outrightly.
“We expected the judge to say that what the police did was wrong. Instead, he hinged his judgment on the document, which the police concorted, to implicate others and asked Ikechukwu to sign. He condemned four of them and released Ikechukwu, who allegedly claimed that all of them were robbers.”
Speaking on the transfer of the case from Nkwerre to Owerri, Nwosu explained that there is only one High Court in Imo State, adding that there are Divisional High Courts. He disclosed that the Divisional High Courts try cases of violent crimes, including armed robbery, except for, “a very strong reason.”
“What bothered us was why the matter was transferred from where it originated. The reason they gave was that it would prevent the accused persons from escaping from the Black Maria, any time they were being taken to the court. We started to smell a rat when the case was transferred to Owerri,” Nwosu said.
Daily Sun gathered that when the suspects were transferred to Owerri prison, it was not all the time that they went to court in Black Maria. They sometimes trekked to court in leg chains and handcuffs. “They treated the case as if the suspects committed an offence that is higher than armed robbery. They wanted to humiliate them at all costs,” he further said.
He cited an instance where the Investigating Police Officers handcuffed Emeka and drove him to Ngwa, in Abia State, where they consulted a herbalist to find out if he (Emeka) took part in the robbery. The herbalist was said to have exonerated him but the police still held him. “Many youths were arrested by the police and the ones whose parents were able to pay N50, 000 were released,” he alleged.
He told Daily Sun that he was not deterred by the judgment of the Owerri High Court, as he was already making preparations to appeal against the judgment.
|Re: Don’t Let Them Hang My Son, He’s Innocent(60-yr-old Woman’s Plea To Ohakim, Mark by Nobody: 7:12pm On Mar 13, 2010|
Na wa o.
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