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April 12, 2021

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The police have rearrested two leaders of Idumuje-Ugboko, a community in Aniocha Local Government Area of Delta State, who had been facing trial in Abuja over a crisis in the community.

Seven persons, including the president of the Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU), Okey Ifejoku, had been charged with allegedly killing one man, Cyprian Kumaorun in 2017.

The six other defendants in the terrorism charge are Godwin Aniemeke, Nonso Omefe, Dennis Nwoko, Light Nwochie, Aikhomu Omezi and Emeka Bidoku.

They were accused of conspiring with others now at large in May 2017 to unleash terror on the community by burning houses and killing Mr Kumaorun.

The defendants had prayed Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja to transfer the case to Delta State, where the alleged incident took place.

Their application was supposed to be heard on Thursday but the court adjourned sitting to May 27 because Justice Abang was indisposed, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

However, as Messrs Ifejoku and Aniemeke drove towards the airport to board their flight, they were arrested by a police team led by one DSP Dauda.

They are currently being detained at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) in Abuja.

“Our union’s President General, Mr Okey Ifejoku, and Godwin Aniemeke were arrested and locked up at the Central Police near the Federal Secretariat. Their charge is Conspiracy and Murder of the same Benue man, Cyprain, for which two of our youth were acquitted after three years of incarceration.

“The same murder of Cyprian features in the terrorism case that is on-going. Meanwhile all the names under the terrorism case are listed in this new case,” a source told our reporter.

The defendants’ lawyer, Marvin Omorogbe, confirmed the arrest of the duo to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday evening.

He said the police denied them bail and have decided to charge them with murder in a separate suit.

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“I’m just coming out from the office of the IPO (Investigation Police Officer). He said they had concluded the investigation and that authorities above have approved that they should be arraigned.”

Meanwhile, legal experts who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES condemned such move as irregular since the case was already being treated in the terrorism charge.

“This is just an attempt to frustrate justice. But you know this is Nigeria where what is abnormal is the norm. Since they have been charged before a competent court previously and it is in the same case, there is no need for a new suit,” Anthony Williams, a Lagos-based lawyer said.

Background

PREMIUM TIMES, in a two-part series published last year December, reported how a former lawmaker, Ned Nwoko, dislodged poor farmers from their farmlands to build a private university in the village.

This newspaper reported how the billionaire, in 2015, grabbed 90 hectares of land in Idumuje-Ugboko and how he relentlessly used security personnel to intimidate members of the community who challenged him, starting from 2015.

ALSO READ: INVESTIGATION: How ex-lawmaker, Ned Nwoko, grabbed community’s land, dislodged poor farmers

Mr Nwoko’s land grab later led to violence, kingship tussle and rights violations in his hometown when some members of the community, led by his kin from the royal family, kicked against his demands for 90 hectares of land.

While there are pending lawsuits surrounding the approval of the land by the late monarch, Mr Nwoko had commenced the building of the proposed STARS University on the 90 hectares.

2017 Mayhem

On May 23, 2017, about 30 hoodlums disrupted a meeting of the community leaders called to address the crisis over the land.

But the youth of the community repelled the thugs, the exchange leaving 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.

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