Recent chilly allegation by Ned Nwoko, a former member of the House of Representatives, that his kinsmen in Idumuje-Ugboko, Delta State, want to kill him over his acquisition of land to build a private university in the community, is currently taking a new twist.
While the billionaire raised the alarm at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, in 2015 he reportedly grabbed 90 hectares of land in Idumuje-Ugboko, and used security agents to intimidate members of the community who challenged his acquisition of the land.
In the two-part investigation published in December 2020, Premium Times uncovered how he dislodged many poor farmers from the land.
Nwoko’s land grab later led to violence, kingship tussle and rights violations when some members of the community, led by his kinsmen from the royal family, kicked against his acquisition of the land.
While lawsuits were pending, challenging its acquisition, Nwoko started building the proposed STARS University on the land which he said has reached 95 per cent completion and that he has completed an Olympic standard sports facilities in it.
On May 23, 2017, about 30 hoodlums disrupted a meeting convened by community leaders to address the crisis over the land. But, youths of the community repelled the thugs. The exchanges left many injured and one Cyprian Koumaru, a motorcyclist from Benue State, suspected dead after going missing since the incident.
The police later arrested some persons over the violence including the monarch of the community, his uncles and supporters. Some were illegally detained before being charged to court while nine were taken into custody in Abuja on charges of terrorism.
The next hearing in the trial of the nine at the Federal High Court in Abuja, was on February 19.
At his press conference, Nwoko said the alleged plot to assassinate him was exposed on social media by an inmate in Kuje Prison, who overheard two fellow inmates discussing the plot.
Though he said the matter has since been reported to the police, Nwoko added that the inmate, who exposed the plot, died three weeks ago after being inundated with threat messages since his release from the prison.
But a prominent son of Idumuje-Ugboko community in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta, who is also the Chairman of Rainoil Ltd, Chief Gabriel Ogbechie, is describing the damaging assassination allegation as a hoax.
Ogbechie who said his attention has been drawn to several publications in the print and social media wherein Nwoko alleged that a plan to assassinate him was being sponsored by him, also said that Nwoko’s allegations are completely false and a figment of his ‘’infantile imagination’’.
‘’I have not planned nor sponsored any plot to assassinate Ned Nwoko’’, Ogbechie insisted.
In a petition to the police, Nwoko claims: ‘’I was reliably informed by my wife, Regina Daniels, who was also informed by one Wale Jana that the suspects who were arrested and remanded at the Kuje Correctional Center in connection with the murder case in my village are plotting to cause me harm and possibly kill me. From the information made available to me the evil plot is being sponsored by one Chief Gabriel Ogbechie.
‘’I came to this conclusion because according to the report sent to my wife by Wale Jana, it said an inmate in the same room with the suspects at the correctional facility who pretended to be sleeping heard them plotting to harm me. From what he heard, the sponsor of the planned attack owns a filling station and is in the business of Oil and Gas and hails from a community around. As far as I know, the only person who fits that description is one Chief Gabriel Ogbechie.
Screenshots of the purported WhatsApp messages between Regina Daniels’ informant and the random prisoner were attached to the petition.
According to Ogbechie, ‘’last December 4, I had audience with the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command where I read the said petition and pointed out the fact that same was speculative with three layers of hearsay: The prisoner telling Wale Jana, Wale Jana telling Regina Daniels who then tells Ned Nwoko the tale of an alleged plot. Interestingly, the prisoner and/or Wale Jana never mentioned my name. The conclusion that the only person who fits that description is one Chief Gabriel Ogbechie is entirely that of Nwoko.
‘’The moment I stepped out of the office of the FCT Police Commissioner, Nwoko and his social media trolls went into frenzy that I have been arrested for plotting to assassinate Ned Nwoko. That was false, I was NEVER arrested. I have it on good authority that in his bid to rub my name further in the mud, Nwoko allegedly placed a frantic call to a member of staff of a popular television channel, asking him to carry the fake news of my arrest as breaking news. Abiding by the ethics of his profession, the gentleman refused despite being offered a blank cheque to propagate this evil on my person.
‘’Regardless, the FCT Police Command thoroughly investigated the case. They visited the prisons, interviewed the actors and they reached the conclusion that the petition was spurious and frivolous. Suddenly, the Police Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID Abuja) asked that the case be transferred to them.
‘’My lawyers wrote a petition to the Inspector General of Police on December 22, 2020 requesting that his office take over the case to thoroughly investigate it. The IGP Monitoring Team invited Ned Nwoko for questioning. He was asked to produce the prisoner who told him and Regina Daniels of the plot to kill him. Ned Nwoko suddenly declared that the prisoner who told him/Regina Daniel of the plot is one Ossy Biose and that he was released from prison and died soon afterwards! How? When? Ned Nwoko had no answers to any of the questions.
‘’When the IGP Monitoring Unit asked him to provide details of the family of the alleged deceased, he declined! As soon as Ned Nwoko stepped out of the Police Office, his social media trolls went wild with the news that the prisoner who told him that there was a plan to kill him has died mysteriously and that I am being fingered as the likely suspect.
The alleged prisoner, named Ossy Biose, is known only to Ned Nwoko and Regina Daniels. At his press conference, Ned Nwoko mentions that he knows the prisoner’s family and also provided explicit details of Ossy Biose’s sojourn to prison. This leads me to believe that he had a pre-existing relationship with him. Only Ned Nwoko knows the cause of death and he is the only one in a position to explain why the person known only to him and his wife suddenly passed.
The name Ossy Biose, the now allegedly deceased prisoner was only mentioned for the first time by Ned Nwoko at the IGP’s office when he was asked to substantiate his allegation and as at this time, Ossy Biose was already deceased, according to Ned Nwoko. Pray tell: how can someone be responsible for the death of someone whose name was only mentioned after he was dead and whose identity Ned Nwoko still refuses to disclose to the Police?
Frankly, the truth of Ned Nwoko’s allegations is that they are all a work of fiction, a poor movie script that has reached its end.
Also, Ned Nwoko in his petition stated that the prisoner shared the same room at Kuje Correctional Facility with two boys from Idumuje Ugboko. This puts the location of the alleged plot squarely at Kuje Correctional Facility. Quite to the contrary, the two prisoners from Idumuje-Ugboko who are in prison on account of Ned Nwoko are NOT in Kuje Correctional Facility. They are, infact, held at Suleja Correctional Facility, fifty-two kilometers away from Kuje Correctional Facility. They were arraigned on the 26th of August 2020 and the Judge ordered that they be remanded in Kuje Correctional Facility. However, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, they were remanded in Suleja Correctional Facility since the 26th of August 2020 and have remained there till date. These are the people that Ned Nwoko, in his hallucinatory state, accuses of conspiracy to assassinate him and who are allegedly being sponsored by an oil magnate.
In writing his work of fiction, Ned Nwoko could not do his simple due diligence to even ascertain the location of the two people who are in prison on his account and he is now maligning my integrity and reputation.
In the alleged WhatsApp exchange attached to the petition, one of the prisoners from Idumuje-Ugboko was mentioned as Cheta and the exchange stated that Ned Nwoko put them in prison. I do not know Cheta, neither have I met nor interacted with him. My preliminary checks revealed the full names of the said prisoners to be Cheta Okolo and Onyisi Esuzor. They are both members of the Vigilante Group in the village. In the course of their duty, they accosted a miscreant vandalizing street lights in the village. The person so accosted turned out to be Ned Nwoko’s acolyte in the village. At the behest of Ned Nwoko, Cheta Okolo and Onyisi Esuzor were promptly arrested and arraigned before the courts in Delta State for ATTEMPTED MURDER. The courts discharged and acquitted them as no case was established against them. Dissatisfied, men from FCID Abuja came all the way to Idumuje-Ugboko, arrested these boys on the 30th of July 2020 and locked them up for three weeks at the FCID. On the 26th of August 2020, they were arraigned before a judge in Abuja, this time charged with TERRORISM! They have been in Suleja Prison for five months now and counting. This is all on account of Ned Nwoko, according to the WhatsApp message exchange between Regina Daniels and her informant.
Ned Nwoko and I are from the same community, Idumuje Ugboko, Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State. Ned Nwoko desires 100 hectares of land to build a University in the community, a noble gesture by all means. The King and Ned Nwoko, who are first cousins, have differing opinion on how best to acquire the land needed for the University. Sometime in 2017, I had an extensive meeting with Ned Nwoko in his house in Abuja and I appealed to him to allow peace to reign in the community. I spelt out what I believed was a clear road map for him to acquire the 100 hectares of land he needs to build his University. Ned Nwoko wants 100 hectares of land, contiguous to his existing 33 hectares of land on which he built his private residence. Part of the 100 hectares of land belongs to the Community but most of it are owned by private individuals. The King simply requests that Ned Nwoko follows due process; put in an application for the land, pay the token that is due to the community and gets the land. With regards the land that belongs to private individuals, he was advised to engage the owners of the land and take the necessary legal steps to acquire it. However, Ned Nwoko wants none of it, he believes he is above the laws of the community and is not ready to conform to simple dictates of communal living.
I am in support of the University. The King is in support of the University. The community is happy to host the University. The King, His Royal Highness Obi Chukwunonso Nwoko who ascended the throne about four years ago desires his Staff of Office. Ned Nwoko has used every subterfuge in the book to ensure the King does not get his staff of office. To no avail, I have appealed to Ned Nwoko on numerous occasions to follow due process in the acquisition of his desired portion of land and to also allow the newly installed King be presented his staff of Office.
In the last four years alone:
The King, His Royal Highness Obi Chukwunonso Nwoko, who is currently 70 years old has been accused of killing his father, the immediate past King who died at the ripe old age of 91 years.
The King and twelve other members of the community have been accused and charged to a court in Abuja on account of terrorism.
Policemen, at the behest of Ned Nwoko, have invaded the Palace in the dead of the night, picked up the King like a common criminal and locked him up in Asaba. It took the intervention of the Government of Delta State to get the King out of the needless harassment.
Two members of the community were accused of murder of someone known only to Ned Nwoko. Despite their strident denial they were locked up and charged to court. They spent three years in prison before the courts threw out the case for lack of evidence. Regardless three years of their lives have been lost.
Three members of the community are currently held at Suleja Prison on account of Ned Nwoko on an alleged charge of terrorism.
In the past two years, more than 8 members of the community have spent time at prisons in Abuja and some up to 14 months on account of alleged terrorism
Idumuje Ugboko, a small agrarian and peaceful community on the fringes of Delta State has been dragged into the national and public space by Ned Nwoko all for the wrong reasons. He has accused indigenes of terrorism or murder and is now hallucinating over a purported plan to assassinate him.
Having observed with revulsion, the great lengths Ned has gone to launch a heinous smear campaign against me, I am now completely doubtless that Ned Nwoko is very much capable of strategically executing plans and actions to bring about a desired result. I have severally engaged and admonished him to use his wealth to facilitate the economic progress of the bright minds in our community. Once again, I urge him to channel his talents to bring about an amicable end to the ongoing community conflict instead of waging a campaign of oppression. Hapless members of the community have been dragged before judges in Abuja and given very stringent bail conditions; some asked to bring sureties with assets of fifty million naira and above including houses in Abuja. This is way beyond what a lot of them can fathom or afford, so they simply rot in prison in Abuja. I have seen poor village women, most of them farmers, donate as little as five hundred naira into the pool of funds to raise the millions of naira needed to bail their children from jail in Abuja on account of Ned Nwoko. Despite the fact that I have no relationship with most of the oppressed and accused persons, I have provided the much-needed assistance for bail as much as I can. I have also made provisions for first-rate legal representation for the King and some of the accused persons.
Ned Nwoko has severally asked me to stop supporting the King as he believes my intervention prevents him from having his unrestrained way in the community. All these attacks and fabricated falsehoods against my person are to scare me into allowing him continue his harassment and intimidation of poor and defenseless members of our Community. This is wrong!
I have tried severally to reach out to him to arrange a forum of dialogue to resolve whatever he believes is conflict between us. He has evaded and sabotaged every single attempt I have made. Instead, he keeps fabricating and weaving a web of lies around me. I understand his family is in the show business and it is necessary they remain in the news to maintain the smokescreen of media hype. However, I urge him to keep me out of his social media antics and refrain from using my name as content. I simply have no desire to be a part of the fictitious drama borne out of the figment of his colorful imagination.
My lawyers have written to Ned Nwoko demanding a retraction, apology and payment of damages for the scurrilous statements and publications made by him and very soon, he would have his day in Court.
I shall continue to take legal steps to protect my hard earned reputation and integrity. Ned Nwoko is not above the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.