Posted by News Express | 12 May 2017 | 4,656 times
The demolition of residential buildings in an estate, located in Okpuno-Ezinkwelle community in Anambra State has continued to generate negative reactions from across the country.
In a statement issued on Friday in Onitsha by the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), the group said that “violent activities of ‘General’ Kenneth Okonkwor led OCHA Brigade reached to an apogee recently when he rolled out bulldozers and heartlessly stormed citizens’ residences in Oba community land and Okpuno-Ezi Nkwelle in Nkwelle-Ezunaka private Housing Estate and started demolishing residential buildings; at which various forms of extortion and threats, arrests, unlawful detention and torture ensued.”
The statement as jointly signed by Intersociety Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Joy Igboeli; Head, Democracy & Good Governance Programme, Chinwe Umeche; and Head, Campaign & Publicity Department, Florence C. Akubilo,
In it the frontline rights group said: “Anambra society had in recent times been devilled by rampaging and violent activities of its leading troublesome or violent billionaires and killer-‘generals’; leading to loss of several innocent lives, instigation of police extra judicial killings and torture; maiming, abductions, frame-ups, trumped up charges, privatisation and commercialisation of conventional security agencies and agents as well as destruction of public and private properties worth billions of naira.
“The violent activities of the said violent billionaires and killer-‘generals’ rose to an apogee in July 2004 when key public institutions and sensitive public and private buildings in Anambra State including Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), the State Judicial Headquarters, Awka Government House and others were set on fire and destroyed by criminal citizens and mobs hired and sponsored by then leading violent billionaires and killer-‘generals’ in the state.
“At the centre of accusation then was Mr. Chris Ubah, one of the leading troublesome billionaires in the State till date. A number of killer-‘generals’ in the state then including Mr. Chuma Nzeribe were strongly accused of being responsible for coordination of the violent and coupist activities. The most shocking part of it was that the destructions and other forms of mayhem took place under the watchful eyes of various conventional security agencies in the state including the Anambra State Police Command. The then sitting Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, was also held hostage and beaten up like a child.
“Today, not only that the troublesome billionaires and killer-‘generals’ have returned but their presence and activities in the state and communities where they come from have become an incurable nightmare and terror. At the state level, the fear of these violent billionaires and killer-‘generals’ by innocent citizens and various security commands is the beginning of wisdom. The State Police Command and its SARS; likewise other conventional security agencies in the state is parasitically under their permanent control and pocket. Their violent activities have also been promoted, tolerated and protected at all times by successive civilian governments in Anambra State particularly those of 1999-2003 and 2003-2006 as well as the present government of Anambra State.
“There are many troublesome billionaires and killer-‘generals’ in Anambra State till date and most prominent of them are the likes of Mr. Godwin Okeke of GUO Companies (who till date remains a major player in public security in the state), Mr. Emeka Offor of Chrome Oil and EEDC, Mr. Christian Ubah, Mr. Arthur Eze of Atlas Petroleum and Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah of Capital Oil. Anambra State also parades a region of quiet and highly respected billionaires among them are Mr. Daniel Chukwudozie of Dozzy Oil & Gas, Mr. Godwin Ezemo of Orient Group of Companies and Mrs. Adaora Umeoji (Deputy Managing Director and a major stakeholder in Zenith Bank PLC), to mention but few.
“There are also several killer-‘generals’ in the state who now address themselves as ‘security experts/consultants’ or ‘market leaders’. Chief among them are the likes of Mr. Chinenye Ihemko (a.k.a. Okpompi); co-pioneer commander of former Governor Mbadinuju’s murderous AVS or Bakassi Boys and current millionaire-AVS chief of Onitsha Main Market; and ‘Gen.’ Kenneth Okonkwor, who now heads what Governor Willie Obiano calls ‘Operation Clean & Healthy Anambra’ or OCHA Brigade; a legitimised militia group.
“Mr. Okwudili Ezenwankwo (a.k.a Ewepudike) who says he is the President Gen. of Anambra State/Southeast and Nigerian Market Associations; is strongly believed to be one of such troublesome market leaders.
“These killer ‘generals’ were preceded by the likes of Camillus Ebekue, Paulinus Ubanozie, WORLD BANK-Orakwu, NTU-Ozubulu, BRAVO-Ozubulu, Bona Maduafokwa, Chuma Nzeribe and Emeka Asoanya (a.k.a War Machine, who is now the Caretaker Committee Chair of Onitsha South LGA). These god-father killer-‘generals’ held sway in the inglorious epoch of murderous Onitsha Traders Vigilante Group (OTA) and Anambra Vigilante Services (a.k.a. Bakassi Boys) all backed by the then Governor Chinweoke Mbadinuju administration.
“Out of these troublesome billionaires and killer-‘generals’ mentioned, 97% of them did not go beyond Primary School or FSLC, not to talk of Secondary School. Any post primary school academic certificate possessed by any of them today other than FLSC is procured or obtained through proxy ‘internal’ or ‘external’ WAEC exams.
“Through unchecked violent and murderous activities of those pre 2006 violent billionaires and killer-‘generals’, thousands of citizens of the state origin and residence were butchered. The butchery got escalated and alarming between 1998 and 2002; leading to mass and individual deaths of over 5,000 people in Anambra State. The butchery was perpetrated by the then violent billionaires and killer-‘generals’ using the trio of Onitsha Traders Vigilante Group (OTA: 1998-2000), Anambra State Vigilante Services a.k.a Bakassi Boys (2000 - 2002) and operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the State Police Command (2004 to 2013 and above).
“Among earliest slain victims of the said butchery masterminded by the said violent billionaires and killer-‘generals’ in concert with or at the behest of the then Government of Anambra State were: Chuma Onwuazo and Bonaventure Egbuawa (murdered in April and July 2000, respectively, by then State Government backed OTA Vigilante Group), Hon. Ifeanyi Ibegbu (then member of Anambra State House of Assembly) abducted and tortured by AVS (Bakassi Boys) in the late night of 21st August 2000 at Bakassi Boys White House, Onitsha Main Market. But he was miraculously saved through timely intervention of then IGP, Musiliu Smith; Edward Okeke ( a popular prophet of Nawgu, murdered by AVS on 9th November 2000 over his prophesy concerning Gov. Chinweoke Mbadinuju’s second tenure), Ezeodimegwu Okonkwo ( a.k.a. Jidoga, a popular musician; murdered by AVS on 18th February 2001 at Nsugbe “33”).
“Others are Ikechukwu Nwagboo ( then personal assistant to Hon. Chudi Offodile of the House of Reps; murdered in place of his boss by AVS in February 2001), Rockfeller Okeke (a top staff of the then Anambra State Ministry of Information; murdered by AVS inside his residence on 23rd April 2001), Felix Ikebude (an estranged apologist of Emeka Offor’s APF; murdered by AVS in December 2001), Sunday Uzokwe ( a physically challenged community leader in Ozubulu, murdered by AVS on 30th January 2002), Mrs. Ngozi Oranu (widow of an Eziowelle wealthy businessman, raped and murdered over her husband’s properties and wealth by AVS at the Bakassi Boys White House, Onitsha Main Market in November 2001).
“The rest are Barnabas Igwe (then Onitsha Bar Association Chairman, murdered by AVS in the evening of 1st September 2002 along Oraifite Street, Awada), Barr. (Mrs.) Amaka Blessing Igwe ‘A. B. Girl’ (wife of Barrister Barnabas Igwe murdered by AVS alongside her husband on 1st September 2002 along Oraifite Street, Awada), and Miss Chinenye Okoye, an SS2 Student of the Mathamavis Secondary School, Umuoji in Anambra State; abducted by AVS ( Bakassi Boys) and taken to its White House in Onitsha Main Market and raped for 60 days. Sources: The News Magazine, 21st October 2002, page 21; Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch and Emeka Umeagbalasi, 2002, 2003 and 2011.
“The number of armed security personnel attached to Gen. Kenneth Okonkwor of Governor Willie Obiano’s Operation Clean & Healthy Anambra (OCHA Brigade), is only comparable to counter insurgency operations in Nigeria’s Northeast. The attached armed security personnel include soldiers, SSS operatives, Navy personnel, SARS, Mobile Police personnel and voodooist and cannibalistic state vigilante operatives.
“There are strong evidential records in the possession of the leadership of Int’l Human Rights & Equity Defense Foundation (I-REF) led by Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, showing that a total of N38.6 million was collected as bribes from the helpless landlords and tenants of the Estate by ‘Gen.’ Kenneth Okonkwo and his riotous and killer-OCHA Brigade to halt further demolitions. These are contained in I-REF’s letter to the Governor of Anambra State, dated 8th May 2017. Similar strong reservations are also made and contained in today’s (12th May 2017) press statement issued by the Southeast CLO, led by Comrade Aloysius Attah concerning the callous and riotous acts of demolishing the dwelling abodes of innocent citizens of Anambra State.
“In other social climes, the concept of richness is seen in theory and practice as a priceless gift or blessing to the society. In communities where such rich men and women come from, their communities and indigent natives and neighbours are at all times lifted and protected from malicious intra and inter communal others as well as from hash policies and neglects of State or Federal authorities. Their wealth serves as a key influencer for drawing government attention and attraction of key infrastructural and social developments to their communities. Brilliant but indigent pupils/students of such communities are awarded scholarships up to university level; without parasitic or selfish strings attached.
“Such benevolent rich men and women also promote and protect at all times the sacredness of their traditional institutions including kingship and peace and tranquillity of their communities. They build communal roads, schools, hospitals, sink boreholes and provide communal electrification, etc without having to turn their communities, natives and kingship into perpetual slavery and annexation of communal lands through bribery, offer of peanuts and intimidation.
“At a larger level, they set up foundations, research institutions, social funding agencies and engage in other forms of humanitarian gestures. In return, they are immortalised while living and after living, not on account of how much they acquired while living but how much they contributed to save and sustain lives and the living and society while alive. Examples of such living saints are Bill & Melinda Gate, Gerald Ford, George Soros, John D & Catherine T McArthur, Henry Dunant (founder of Red Cross), to mention but a few.
“But in Anambra State and other parts of the Southeast and Nigeria, the reverse is gravely the case. Rich men and women in Anambra State, dominated by people with acute limited education and slave-master idiosyncrasies, are like gods and goddesses. They constitute terror and nightmare to the State and communities. Where their communal houses are located in their communities, no house of a poor man or widow is allowed. It is either the ancestral owner of the house is forced to trade off his ancestral or her marital birth right by enforced relocation or get it lost by demolition and frame up.
“Also in communities where these nova riches hail from, there is litany of intractable crises; ranging from communal/clan/kindred land disputes between them and the ancestral owners of the lands, to kingship and other forms of chieftaincy and communal union disputes. The number of conventional security personnel including soldiers, SARS operatives, Mobile Police Personnel and at times SSS operatives; attached to six leading troublesome billionaires in Anambra State (Emeka Offor, Godwin Okeke, Ifeanyi Uba, Arthur Eze and Christian Ubah); likewise several others is not only shocking, alarming and deafening but also more than enough to properly police two major Local Government Areas of Aguata and Anaocha. Each of these troublesome billionaires moves with at least ten armed conventional security personnel.
“There are also squadrons of conventional security personnel reservists preserve for them to be used at their slightest beck and call. Various and strategic army, navy, SSS and police formations and their commanders/heads including Police SARS headquarters and their units in Anambra State, Zone 9 at Umuahia, 82nd Division of Nigerian Army Enugu and its satellite formations across the Southeast and Police Force Headquarters at Abuja are in their routine pocket and control. Their words are law and final before such security heads. Whoever that is arrested at the behest of any of these troublesome billionaires has possibly embarked on journey of no return.
“Emeka Offor of Chrome Oil and EEDC is a clear case in point. His ownership and midwifery of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company has had a violent and despicable record of using officers and men of various divisions and sub divisions of Anambra State Police Command particularly its SARS unit to harass, intimidate, arrest, torture and detain scores of citizens for months or several weeks without trial. In 2014 and 2015, scores of citizens including landlords, tenants, electricians and EEDC substantive and contract workers were arrested, detained unlawfully at SARS formations in the state for several months without trial and tortured for ‘tempering with prepaid meters and stealing of EEDC properties/funds’.”
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