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Fear Grips Enugu Community As Court Grants Bail To Suspect In Traditional Ruler's Murder

Posted by Samuel on Sat 22nd Jun, 2024 -

The community has been embroiled in an inter and intra communal conflict with its neighbour, Umuode, for over three decades.

 Enugu community

The many residents of Oruku autonomous community in Enugu State's Nkanu East Local Government Area, are now living in fear.

The residents are currently in fear after Justice Cyprian Aja of the State High Court granted bail to one Moses Nnamani.

Nnamani is a prime suspect in the murder of the community's traditional ruler, Igwe Chidiebere Emmanuel Mba. 

The community has been embroiled in an inter and intra communal conflict with its neighbour, Umuode, for over three decades. 

The conflict escalated on December 26, 2020, when Igwe Chidiebere Emmanuel Mba was murdered during the community's annual meeting. 

Nnamani, a 57-year-old land commission agent, allegedly hired policemen to kill the monarch. 

He and Inspector Daniel Dennis, 47, were arrested and charged with murder and conspiracy. 

However, Justice Romanus Odugu recused himself from the case.

But after several back and forth, the duo of Nnamani and dismissed Inspector Daniel Dennis were arraigned on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in Charge No E/125/24 before Justice Aja on two count- charge of conspiracy and murder.

The charge SaharaReporters obtained on Saturday read: "Count one - statement of offence:

"CONSPIRACY contrary to Section 494 of the criminal Code law of Enugu State cap 30 Vol. II, Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004.

"Particulars Of Offence: MOSES NNAMANI, DANIEL DENNIS on or about the 26 day of December, 2020 at Oruku Community with the jurisdiction of this court conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit: Murder of HRH IGWE EMMANUEL CHIDIEBERE MBAH the Traditional Ruler of Oruku Community.

"Count II: Statement Of Offence - MURDER, Contrary to Section 274(1) of the Criminal Code Law Cap 30 Vol. II. Revised laws of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004.

"Particulars Of Offence: MOSES NNAMANI, DANIEL DENNIS on or about 20 day of December, 2020 at Oruku Community within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable murdered 14.09 IGWE EMMANUEL CHIDIEBERE MBAH the Traditional Ruler of Orok Community by shooting him with a gun." 

However, despite the grave offence, Justice Aja granted Moses Nnamani bail with two sureties.

He is also going to hear and determine the bail application of dismissed Inspector Daniel Dennis on Monday.

In granting Nnamani bail, Justice Aja said the sureties must be one Permanent Secretary and one traditional ruler who must have a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court. The value of the property he said must not be less than N20 million.

Justice Aja explained that "granting bail to accused doesn't mean that he cannot be convicted if he is found guilty after trial".

SaharaReporters had reported that despite the gravity of the charges against the accused persons in the murder of the traditional ruler, the court had earlier granted two other suspects - Onyema Ede and Chikadibia Okenwa bails.

After their release on bail, the duo allegedly carried arson attacks on the houses of two brothers from the community, Ejike and Agozie Ani, who are opposed to the murder suspects.

The houses were burnt to the ground on 26th December, 2022, exactly two years after Igwe Mba was murdered.

The arsonists also burnt down the palace of the late Igwe and 10 other houses the same day.

SaharaReporters had reported that Igwe Emmanuel Mba was attending the Oruku Annual General Meeting (AGM) at its town hall when a team of police officers from the Special Tactical Squad of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Investigation Bureau, stormed the venue. They brought brought the monarch out, and shot him before the people attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The killing drew national outrage, making the state government set up a seven-person judicial commission on 8th January 2021. Headed by Mr. Justice Harold Eya, it was mandated to inquire into the circumstances of the murder.

In its nine-page report submitted in April 2021, the panel chair, Justice Eya stated categorically that Inspector Daniel killed Igwe Mba, with Nnamani’s connivance due to the differences between him and Mba in Oruku affairs.

The police team that killed the traditional ruler was brought to the town in a blue colour Honda Element sport utility vehicle belonging to Nnamani, the report of the commission stated.

The commission members’ position is consistent with the investigative report of the DIG, Force Intelligence Bureau, which noted on 22nd May 2021 that Nnamani wrote a false and malicious petition on 1st June 2020 against the traditional ruler alleging armed robbery, illegal possession of sophisticated arms and murder.

The DIG consequently set up a team of STS men to investigate the allegation which entailed, among other things, visiting the Oruku community.

“Throughout the journey up to the point of killing the Igwe”, wrote the then late DIG Joseph Egbunike.

The report noted, “Inspector Dennis had been in communication with Chief Nnamani, and also received the sum of fifty thousand naira (N50,000) from the Chief. The other operatives on the trip also confirmed the communication between them."

It was on the strength of the report that the police authority dismissed Dennis from service.

Meanwhile, Nnamani had fled to Ghana, and police intelligence officers were able to arrest him last August after he was lured to Nigeria with the bait of a lucrative land deal in Abuja.

“It will be perilous to release any of these grave security risks,” observed a senior officer in the Enugu Police Command who does not want his name in the media because he is not authorised to speak to the press on the issue.

Thirteen other persons had been killed in the small Oruku community since Igwe Mba’s gruesome murder.

There are hardly houses standing in the community as fighters and arsonists have overrun the place, says another senior police officer.

“That’s why it will be exceedingly reckless to allow these fellows to walk out of the correctional centre,” the police officer said.

Ejike Mba, younger brother of the late Igwe Mba, who spoke to SaharaReporters on Saturday raised concerns that there was a ground plans to free the killers of his brother and destroy the case.

He wondered how a murder suspects in high profile case like this would be granted bail without the opposition of the State Government that are prosecuting the case.

"Probably, after the court release them they will back and sack the entire community. Don't you think that they will stop at nothing to ensure that all the witnesses were silenced?" 

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