Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Hoodlums suspected to be political thugs have burnt down the house of a 60-year-old widow, Mrs Monica Nweke, in Ebonyi State.
The widow, it was gathered, was asleep alongside her two daughters and two grandchildren when the arsonists set her building ablaze at about 1.30am, on Tuesday.
A community source, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the assailants set the building on fire and waited till the inferno gutted all the valuables therein, before leaving the scene.
It was said that the widow, her two daughters and grandchildren escaped death through the back door, as the inferno raged.
Mrs Nweke is the mother of Samson Nweke, Ebonyi Chapter Chairman of a human rights group, the Human Rights, Access and Defenders (HURIDE).
Mr Nweke escaped death on the day of the 2023 governorship election in his hometown when hoodlums attacked his polling unit.
His Elder brother, Peter, was however beaten to coma and rushed to hospital where he later died.
Mr Nweke has been on the run since then after he was declared wanted by the Police over his brother’s death.
In a statement, on Friday, signed by its Publicity Secretary, Chinasa Okereke, HURIDE condemned the attack on Mrs Nweke and called for justice for the widow.
The rights group said it had intelligence that no fewer than four suspects have been arrested in connection to the dastardly act.
The statement read in part: “The attention of the Human Rights, Access and Defenders (HURIDE), has been drawn to the inhuman act perpetrated by hired hoodlums against an innocent widow in Ezza North LGA of Ebonyi State.
“This house (Photos attached) belongs to 60-year-old widow from Ogboji community in Ezza North LGA of Ebonyi State.
“Hoodlums attacked the house, looted virtually everything and immediately set the building on fire and waited until it was completely burnt down before they left.”
The group said the attackers are suspected to have been sponsored by some big politicians in Ezza North LGA of Ebonyi State, who have been having issues with Mr Nweke, who is the state chairman of the Human Rights, Access and Defenders (HURIDE) and son of the widow.
“Information got to HURIDE that the ugly incident happened at the early hours of 30th April, 2023 around 1am. It was reported that our chairman’s mother, her two daughters and two grandchildren were all sleeping inside the house when the hoodlums attacked and were shooting directly into the house.
“But God saved them from being burnt alive as they managed to escape through the backdoor”
“However, a confirmed report says that police has swung into action following a petition signed by the victim and fortunately, some of the perpetrators have been arrested while others at large are still being searched for,” the group said.
Those arrested so far according to the group are Monday Nweke Ote, Samuel Itumo Egbara and Adindu Nwigwe Oke and one other.
The group condemned the spate of attacks on the Nweke family.
“Recall that on the 7th of February, 2023, the state HURIDE chairman, Activist Sampson Oko Nweke was controversially arrested and trumped-up charges leveled against him and later saw through his arraignment in court.
“Afterwards, our chairman addressed the world on circumstances surrounding his arrest and speedy prosecution. He did this using his verifiable Facebook handle on a post he made on 9th February 2023, paragraph two.
“More so, in another Facebook post on February 13, 2023, our chairman raised a similar alarm that the some politicians sponsored one Ebubeagu officer from Oshiegbe community to raise a petition against him claiming that he (Oko Nweke), killed one Charley Adigbo, the late Ebubeagu Commander of Ogboji community, who was shot dead In his compound.
“In that very post, our chairman decried that he was also accused in the said petition that he was the one launching attacks on Ebubeagu operatives in Ezza North and snatching their motorcycles.
“But maybe because the information of this petition got to public knowledge and the press, that made them surreptitiously withdraw same and never proceeded with it because they knew it was a false allegation being masterminded against the popular activist.
“Similarly, it is in wide speculation that the big politicians in Ezza North recently did everything possible and still doing to link our state chairman, Activist Sampson Oko Nweke, to the death of his brother, Peter Nweke, who was killed during governorship election in Ogboji community.
“It is sad that they used and still using political loyalists and appointees from the Ogboji community to suppress, intimidate and instigate untold hate and total conspiracy against activist Nweke in their village and entire Ezza North.
“It is reported that they had conspiratorially concluded that Sampson Nweke killed his brother, Peter Nweke, and therefore, he must be killed immediately without leaving any traces.
“But according to reliable information, our chairman’s only saving grace was that he got a hint from a trusted source, of a grand conspiracy to eliminate him at all cost which made him to flee the state to an unknown location to save his dear life first and since then, has never been heard of, till date,” the group said.
Effort to reach the Ebonyi State Police Command for comment, failed, on Friday.
The Commissioner of Police, CP Faleye Olaleye, directed our Correspondent to the State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Onome Onovwakpoyeya.
Ms Onome however did not take calls put across to her mobile phone. She was also yet to reply messages sent to her line as of the time of filing this report.