Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
The whereabouts of an industrialist detained at the Nigerian Correctional Service, Onitsha has become a source of worry to the people of Abba community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The community, where award-winning author Chimamanda Adichie comes from, claimed that some persons are behind the sudden disappearance of one Chief Pius Nweke, an Abba son and the holder of the title of ‘Ikemba of Abba.’
Chief Nweke has been in detention at the Nigerian Correctional Service centers after the Federal High Court, Awka presided over by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Ikengaonline learned that after the conviction of Chief Nweke, the trial court revoked his bail and remanded him at the Correctional Centre Awka to await the sentencing hearing scheduled at a later date by the Court.
As a consequence, after the sentencing of Chief Nweke on 14th June 2023, he was taken straight to the Correctional facility at Onitsha consistent with the subsisting order of the court for his transfer to the facility.
While in detention, Nweke was said to have been denied access to his family, friends, personal physicians, and legal practitioners by an authority at the correctional centre on the pretense that such instruction was from superior orders. He was later moved to the facility at Onitsha on commitment and in compliance with the court order.
Ikengaonline also learned that the developments surrounding Nweke’s travails may not be unconnected to the hostility between the Abba and Ukpo communities over a large parcel of land separating them.
The President-General of Abba Town Union (ATU), Alexander Ekwuagana said in a statement that some persons from Abba neighboring community may have been paid to ensure that Chief Nweke dies in custody, “so that they can take the large parcel of Agu Abba land belonging to Abba community.”
According to the PG, Chief Nweke who he claimed had been whisked away to an unknown destination from the Correctional facility at Onitsha is one of the front-line helpers of his Abba community in the litigation affecting the land.
He said that the community rejected a monetary gift from an oil magnet in their neighboring community. He also said the offer was for his community to forego their patrimony and that since then, men and women of the Abba community have become endangered species.
“Various institutions and apparatus of Government both at the State and Federal levels have been deployed to subjugate, victimise, intimidate, and harass men and women of Abba community to stampede and pressure them to abandon their quest to reclaim their ancestral home.
“Many have been locked up in police custody in Awka and Abuja; some have been charged to different courts in Anambra State on trumped-up charges. The Abba community market and farmlands have been overrun with the popular Abba Junction being renamed with the complicity of State Government officials. Even the name ‘’Abba’’ was not allowed to appear in the State Government mounted signposts to indicate the direction to Abba’s homeland.
“In 2021, the President General of Abba Town Union was abducted in his office by men later identified as officers of the former SARS, Awkuzu. He was kept in the custody of SARS and later Custodial Centre Onitsha for a cumulative period of 82 days.
“The Abba community where Chief Nweke hails from is deeply worried that the life of Chief Pius Nweke is in grave danger by the undue interest of the top management of the Nigeria Correctional Centre.”
Speaking further, the PG said, “The constant attacks on the detained Nweke are to subdue him to bow before a Pharaoh having been thought to be the arrowhead of the opposition of the Abba community in the litigations for the defense of their ancestral home.”
He said Nweke, for more than forty years before his conviction, has been a well-known industrialist who has in his employ over 1,500 staff with many people under his scholarship programme.
He said their illustrious son is the Managing Director of Best Aluminum Manufacturing Company Ltd – a foremost Aluminum Manufacturing Company east of the Niger and that the Nigerian Correctional Service should be held responsible for any ill health, impairment, or death of their son.