- IDUMUJE UGBOKO TERRORISM TRIAL AND A SHAMEFUL PROTEST.
By John Anibueze
There was a scanty protest in Asaba, Delta state capital on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Don’t worry, this was not the serious #End SARS protest. This was at the Delta state government house by some few naive women paid by those who support the lingering injustice, intimidation, brutality and destruction going on in Idumuje-Ugboko in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta state.
These women who are not exactly supporters of Prince Nonso Nwoko, but paid by his financiers, claimed they came to protest against police harassment of their king without a staff of office. They added that a billionaire from their community was seizing their lands and locking up their people in police cells in Abuja.
But you will forgive these women because most of them are mere victims of hunger. And these cruel supporters of evil going on in their community exploit them by giving them pittance to go for protest. If you saw some of them at the protest venue, they look lost and clueless. There was only a sprinkle of two or three women that could manage a few words of English.
But it was the claims of these women that gave them away as people who were out to dramatise shame, ordinary folks being used to carry out a mimicry of facts and dress themselves such indignity that diminishes the women folk. They are innocent pawns in the hands of men without conscience, men who were merely using them to try and cause a distraction from the historic terrorism trial now going in Abuja.
The hard truth indeed is that the terrorism trial of the hoodlums that murdered people and wrecked havoc in Idumuje – Ugboko which began in Abuja on October 8, 2020 jolted Prince Nonso and his supporters. Some of the victims of the mayhem had narrated how they were attacked, brutalised and dragged to the Ugboko palace where Prince Nonso Nwoko allegedly watched with a morbid satisfaction as they were being brutalised .
One of the victims of the barbaric brutality was Chief Chris Ogwu, a respected retired journalist and the Iyase (Traditional Prime Minister of Idumuje – Ugboko) who is only next to the king in traditional ranking . Chief Ogwu narrated how the hoodlums invaded his house fully armed with guns and dangerous weapons. After attacking him, vandalizing his cars and looting his house, they dragged him on the ground to the palace where Prince Nonso allegedly came out and watched as they further subjected him to the worst inhuman treatment.
The Odogwu of Ugboko, the Traditional Defence Minister, the revered Chief Anthony Azuka Edemodu was not spared. He was attacked until he was soaked in his own blood. A young okada rider, Cyprian Kumiolun was shot dead in broad day light right in front of the palace by the hoodlums allegedly imported by Prince Nonso and his financiers. Cyprian was murdered in cold blood for mere suspicion of being a spy. But he was only a motor cycle rider who stopped at a motor-bike mini park near the palace to wait for a passenger. The hoodlums fired him at a point blank range and pronto cartered away his blood soaked lifeless body. All efforts by the police and family have proved abortive.
Kennedy Iloh, Secretary of the Land Allocation Committee of Idumuje – Ugboko, a man of iron-cast integrity, also lost his dear life to the hoodlums in a very tragic manner, having lapsed into coma and again before he passed on . A great man of honour butchered by stone-hearted, ruthless characters imported by Prince Nonso .
Several men, women, young girls and boys were subjected to the most inhuman mistreatment. Their crime is their firm decision to stand for truth and not betray their conscience. So, they refused to support Prince Nonso’s inordinate ambition to be king without due process or to support his craving for Staff of Office when there are pending cases in court over kingship tussle. They also refused bluntly to identify with retrogressive quest to frustrate the building of a university in their village, a project they were already dreaming of how it would change their lives with job opportunities. In fact, over 100 to 200 of them are already putting food on their tables through daily jobs at the construction site of the university. How could they rise against such a life turning venture especially as it was being legitimately carried out. Their noble choice was therefore the reason for the atrocities visited upon them.
But these ordinary people could not live forever with the injustice meted to them. So, they came together and took their case to a lawyer who decided to fight for them. This was how the police and civil society organisations landed in Ugboko to investigate the atrocities alleged to have been committed in the community. It was a purely government affair through the office of the Human Rights Commission. They arrived, did extensive investigations and submitted a report that established acts of terrorism and murder. Prince Nonso and his alleged gang of murderous criminals were indicted. And therefore must face the terrorism trial in a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The point however is that when the whole process of petitioning the Inspector General of the Police, IGP and the Attorney General was on, Prince Nonso was allegedly being told by his financiers that it was all grandstanding and nothing was going to come out of it. They were assured that the Abuja court had no jurisdiction, that the Delta state Attorney General who is their unabashed ally would write to whoever the Abuja Judge was to send the case back to Asaba. They even allegedly boasted that , worse case scenario, they would spend whatever amount of dollars it would take to transfer the case to Asaba. It turned out empty promises. The commencement of the trial in Abuja on October 8, 2020 therefore came as a debilitating shock to both Prince Nonso and his Sponsors.
This was the reason behind the fake demonstration at government house, Asaba. The question any discerning observer would easily ask therefore is what is the relationship between Asaba protest and the Abuja terrorism trial. Of what significance was it if not to constitute nuisance and distraction.
The protesters claimed that their lands were being forcefully taken. But close observers ask, what has land matter got to do with murder trial. Prince Nonso had taken these false and pedestrian land grabbing narratives to at least four different courts with various claims. He lost all of them and was even fined in some cases for wasting the precious time of the court with frivolous and vexatious litigations.
So, if these protesters had issues with the land, they would have returned to court. The land they are talking about is the same land a university is being built and Idumuje – Ugboko as a community holds 40% equity in this university. This explains why the media, CSOs and close observers have asked again and again if their claims make any sense at all. How could they be frustrating a developmental project in which they have a stake. If the land was forcibly taken from their owners, how is it then that Idumuje – Ugboko retains 40% equity. Of much significance however is the fact that neither the university nor the land issue has anything to do with the terrorism trial. It is strictly a case arising from brutalization, looting and murder of some of those who would not support Prince Nonso’s quest to become the Obi (King) of Ugboko. These group of people, for their integrity could not support Prince Nonso’s insidious ambition to be a dictator and a tin god in their community.
They know that those behind the university mean well for them, they hold hope for a better future for them and their children and their entire community. They know everything about Prince Nonso and his financiers. They know that these sponsors of terror and murder though from Ugboko do not live there,hardly visits once in two years but makes all the noise in the media about issues they know practically nothing about. They are convinced that their souls are laden with envy and wickedness. This explains why some of these genuine folks who dwell in Ugboko also marched to the governors office in Asaba to counter the false narratives of Prince Nonso sponsored protests to tell the governor and his aides the true state of affairs and they stated it clearly that there were no land issues in Ugboko except the ones created by Nonso and this was only after his father, Obi Albert Nwoko, their king. They asked anyone that cared to listen to cast their mind back and see whether Ugboko had ever had crisis of any form before the emergence of Prince Nonso and his self proclamation as king. They stated in clear language that the basic problem they have was that of intimidation, brutalization, murder and terrorism by Nonso and his hoodlums.
As the terroirism trial resumes in Abuja on Wednesday October 21, these victims of terror and people of Ugboko are calling for a speedy and consciencious trial. They want the trial concluded fast so that the culprits will be made to pay the price for their murderous acts.
Just like many observers,these Ugboko folks believe that a speedy trial with commensurate punishment meted out to those found guilty will help to curb the fear and harassment they live with everyday. They are of the opinion that failure to ensure a speedy trial and a redress of the injustice they suffered may provoke reprisal attacks and may spell a final doom for them as prince Nonso and his terror agents will feel that the case will die a natural death.
As October 21,2020 approaches people of Idumuje – Igboko, Anioma Nation, Deltans and Nigerians are holding their breadth as they await eagerly for the trial to commence. On that day, they would look to see the accused persons that include Prince Nonso Nwoko, Dennis Nwoko, Godwin Aniemeke, Okey Ifejoku, Emeka Bidoku, Adim Nwafor, Azuka Mukolu, Ndudi Chijiume, Ejinofor Nwoko, Agiliga Light, Raymond Omosiete and Emeka Oyinbundu. They were among the 35 people accused of planning and enacting the bloody havoc in Ugboko in 2017.
On the day of the first court hearing on October 8, all the witnesses of the complainants including the most prominent victims of the mayhem were present in the court in Abuja. They came all the way from Idumuje-Ugboko, a testimony to the gravity of the trial about to begin. They are buoyed by the conviction that justice will finally be done and Idumuje-Ugboko will be healed of the delibilitating violation of her peace.