War against crime: I WILL DEMOLISH MORE PROPERTY —Gov. Obi •Defends demolition of O’sha hotel •Lawyers, rights groups kick

Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 9 August 2013 | 5,669 times

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Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, has vowed to continue with his administration’s policy of demolishing any property linked to criminal gangs in his determination to check crime in the South-East Nigerian state.

He made the vow while defending the demolition of the three-story Upper Class Hotel, Onitsha, the demolition of which he personally supervised after policemen acting on a tip-off, swopped on the hotel last week Wednesday, July 31, and discovered three fresh human heads wrapped in a cellophane bag were neatly kept beside the bed. In the same room were two military AK47 rifles, 40 rounds of live ammunition, some mobile telephones and two army caps.

Addressing a large number of Onitsha residents, , Obi reiterated that he would not allow criminals to return the state to the ugly days of the past when Anambra was associated with evil deeds.

He revealed that the state government had confiscated all assets belonging to the owner of the hotel, Chief Bonaventure Mokwe, explaining that the action was in line with the policy of his administration to sustain the fight against crime and criminality.

Said Obi, who has come under fire from some lawyers and rights groups over the action: “I will not relent in my resolve to flush out hoodlums from all parts of the state and I will continue to knock down property belonging to criminals. I am aware some people would rather want us to convert those property for use for public purposes, but I tell you, acquiring those property and knocking them down is psychologically more beneficial because the weight of the punishment is proportional to the fear it engenders in people to avoid crime.”

Some lawyers and rights groups in Anambra are however angry that the property was demolished before investigations were yet to be concluded. Dr. M. N. Umenweke, who introduced himself as a solicitor to Chief Mokwe, and some other lawyers hired by the family say Obi might have been misled by unseen hands determined to ruin Mokwe and his family. They in one voice declared that Mokwe is very well known in Onitsha and has not been associated with any crime.

Already, the lawyers have filed a suit at an Onitsha High Court to seek for the preservation of the fundamental rights of Chief Mokwe in pursuant to order 11 rules 1 and 2 of enforcement procedures 2009, section 33, 34 and 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria.

Also another lawyer, Mr. Kachi Bielu, in a petition to Police Inspector General Mohammed Abubakar said Mokwe was framed up. His petition reads:

“It is our instruction from our client to appeal to you to use your good offices to send a crack team from the Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, or the monitoring unit and transfer the case to police formations where the case will be properly handled and investigated. It is the belief of our client that where this allegation is not thoroughly investigated by competent and unbiased hands, these unmitigated and dangerous elements will continue to set innocent people up over one allegation or the other in the state.

“We appeal to you and urge you to get the police at Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Awkuzu to transfer the case to Abuja where a full scale investigation will be conducted in order to unravel the persons behind this act and curtail their activities.”  

The wife to the owner of the hotel has also cried foul, alleging that her husband was set up. Mrs. Mokwe, who is also a lawyer by profession, is calling on authorities to intervene in the matter to save her husband.

“My husband is being detained in a very de-humanising condition at SARS and the police have denied him access to his lawyers and relations. Government has also threatened to further demolish his plaza at Ose-Okwodu and other properties belonging to him and members of his family. Indeed, my husband has not been given a fair hearing,” she said.

Mrs. Mokwe disclosed that her husband, who is an estate agent, has unresolved problems with some people, adding that about four of the disputes are pending in court. According to her, the masterminds of her husband’s arrest may have smuggled two human objects into his office which the police claimed were human heads and arms in one of the rooms in the hotel. She pleaded that her husband be charged to court or granted bail.

Members of the civil society groups led by Comrade Justus Ijeoma have also called on the police not to compromise the investigations in order to unravel those behind the ugly incident. They however commended the Nigeria police for bringing their intelligence to bear on the discovery.

News Express recalls that Governor Obi had earlier this year demolished two houses belonging to two notorious kidnap kingpins at Oraifite and Ekwusigo. On those occasions, the governor clearly stated that any property belonging to confirmed criminals in the state would be demolished to serve as a deterrent to others who engage in criminal activities.

Photo shows Governor Obi supervising the demolition of Upper Class Hotel, Onitsha.

Source: News Express

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