· Seeks FG, Anambra Govt probe of incident
The Traditional Ruler of Amichi in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, His Royal Highness Igwe Ofobuike Alphonsus Ezeoke, has narrated how armed soldiers and policemen invaded his palace at the weekend.
Igwe Ezeoke accused the authorities of the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police of sending their personnel to invade his palace.
Igwe Ezeoke said that the incident occurred at the weekend when over 25 armed youths accompanied by 20 soldiers and 15 Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and regular policemen took over the palace to bury a relative in the complex, against the tradition of Obiagu Village and the wishes of family.
The monarch is a nephew to the late Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, the father of former Presidential Adviser on Civil Relations, Chineme Ume-Ezeoke.
He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris and Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State to wade into the matter and restore peace to his community.
According to Igwe Ezeoke, his attackers wanted him dead as they threw caution to the wind, harassed, intimidated and bullied him in his palace.
He said that besides defiling his palace and ridiculing his subjects, against customs and traditions of the people, such treatment would never be meted on his counterparts from the South West or Northern Nigeria.
In an interview with The AUTHORITY, Ezeoke said that but for the prompt intervention of the natives and the youths of Amichi, he would have been dead as his two central gates were pulled down by the thugs under the supervision of soldiers and the police who came in Hilux vans.
He lamented that several appeals by Governor Obiano, the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council and the Obi of Onitsha, Prof. Alfred Achebe, have failed to save him from the embarrassment of the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sam Okaula, and the Commander, 302 Artillery Regimen, Onitsha, Col. Idongesit Akpan, as well all the aides of the governor, especially those on security, and the Commissioner of Police, I.K. Aruba.
According to him, the security agencies said that they could not do anything to save him because “one big man in my community is behind my ordeal and is using the police and army against me.”
The monarch said that his palace was like a war zone last Thursday night before the police and military invasion on Friday during the burial of Mrs. Theresa William Ezeoke, the wife of his uncle, whose children refused to recognise him as the traditional ruler.
He accused them of conniving with some wealthy indigenes of Amichi to seize the throne from him. Ezeoke also alleged his late father, Igwe Alphonsus Nwankwo Ezeoke, was killed in mysterious circumstances by people he loved. His father’s death paved the way for him to ascend the throne.
An earlier police invasion of the community led to the loss of $40,000 and some ancient artefacts. He said the police detained nine people found in the palace and stamped a baby strapped on the mother’s back.
The detainees, he said, were freed when the IGP took over the case, but “till today, the artefacts, missing cash and phones are yet to be returned by the police against all my petitions.”
“I am not safe in my palace again. The police have been able to aid and abet thugs to harass me even in my palace. Thugs looted my palace. I have lost confidence in the Nigeria Police. Only in Nigeria would the police have the impetus to arrest innocent people, detain them, loot their property and nothing would happen, even when you are a traditional ruler and a law abiding citizen,” he lamented.
Mr. Chinedu Ezeoke, a cousin of the Igwe, said a lot of negative untrue stories have been written about Igwe Ezeoke. Some have referred to him as a tyrant. These stories were sponsored by some prominent Amichi people in conjunction with the Igwe’s cousins.
“One must understand that Ezeoke comprises about 200 men, but only these seven cousins are causing the Igwe headaches. These cousins have promoted a lot of hatred in Amichi against the Igwe. They have waged a media war against the Igwe and are being sponsored by prominent people in Amichi who would rather see the monarch fall.”
He said that when the woman died, his cousins never told him, probably to spite him for having outlawed the burial of corpses in the palace which was ratified by the Obiagu village after a meeting to consider the law by the Igwe and its implications.
The family of the late Willy filed a suit against the Igwe at the Nnewi High Court, Case No: HN/14/17, alleging that they inherited their building inside the Obi and that the Igwe had no right as the custodian of the palace to evict them.
But the children of the late Willy Ume-Ezeoke rejected the outcome and insisted they would continue to bury their relations in the compound, hence the invasion of thugs which were assisted by the police and army to ensure the corpse was buried.
The AUTHORITY however learnt that the Army and the Police led thugs to enforce a court order which the Igwe demanded but was not presented to him.
The monarch said that the military claimed that they were executing an order from a judge that the woman must be buried in his palace.
The Igwe was earlier arrested and detained in Awka on the orders of the Commissioner of Police. His efforts to get help from other traditional rulers and the authorities, including Igwe Achebe, who told him he was in Europe and Obiano, who said he was resting abroad, all failed.
No help came and the Igwe was in police cell till the next day when a police top officer, Assistant CP Waja, went to the CP’s house to ask for the Igwe’s release only to be shocked that the CP was harassing him for arresting the Igwe and detaining him till daybreak.
Waja had done everything to stop the detention of the Igwe after he was ordered to detain him by superior officers who have threatened to arrest the Igwe if he did not come to the Police CID for an interview against the warning of Governor Obiano that no traditional ruler should be arrested or invited to the police under any circumstances.
The Igwe, who was refused police protection after he applied four times, is being guarded by the natives and youths.
Even The AUTHORITY correspondent nearly got into trouble at the palace as the thugs almost pulled the gate on him.
The traditional ruler played the tapes purportedly on the conversation between the CP and Army commander during the raid on his palace.
In it, the Army Commander narrated how his men were involved and asked them to leave the scene of the crisis after the woman had been buried.
But the CP denied all the allegations.
The Igwe alleged that they had invaded his palace in January 2016 and April 2016, as well as in January 2017 with one DC Bassey leading the team.
According to him, nine people were charged before Magistrate Court 2 in Nnewi without any file. He said that the suspects would have been jailed on trumped up charges but for the intervention of the IGP’s monitoring unit. The case is scheduled for hearing on April 26, 2017.