Mbadinuju’s Travails

Nwokoye ChukwudiBack in the days when I was in Secondary School, my English Literature teacher who was also our Vice-Principal, one Mr. Ebisi from Enugwu-Ukwu, would preach:

“The game of life is like the game of boomerang, everyone’s action, words or deeds returns to him in an astounding accuracy”. In those days, it was his most valued quote and because he said the quote every time in class, my classmates and me had no choice than to memorize it to this day. So every time I hear the word, “boomerang”, I remember him.

The above quotation was as relevant to me at the time and even more relevant now with the issue criminal charges preferred against of former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s. He misruled Anambra Statebetween 1999 and 2003. He was the governor reputed for early prayers with the traders everyday and his administration highlighted the cankerworm in our politics named ‘god-fatherism’. It was during his administration that teachers and civil servants were owed their salary and they went on strike for one year crippling academic and government activities in the state for a whole year. Students were at home for the whole year and those that are supposed to take their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) and Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (JSCE) were left to their fate in a state that produced scholars of international repute.

However, he was also remembered for using the dreaded “Bakassi Boys” to solve the problem posed by armed robbers in the state. The “Bakassi Boys” were re-named Anambra Vigilante Services and was given a legal backing in the then Anambra House of Assembly as a recognized quasi-state police cum-crime busters. To his credit, criminal activities went down in the state even though the security outfit used un-orthodox method of crime fighting like charms and amulets. There were lots of extra-judicial killings in public with machetes or butchering among which was the killing of Eddie Okeke popularly known as Eddie Nawgu, whose church or juju shrine was a known haven for armed robbers and hired killers. Okeke was alleged to be the master-mind of some of the state’s unsolved murders and assassinations including the assassination of HRH Igwe FFBC Nwankwo of Nawfia (The Tallest Man).

Many hailed the governor’s method of using the security outfit to fight crime as a welcome development. His critics that included the Civil Liberties Organization accused the governor who claimed to be a lawyer of violation of the civil rights of the accused. The governor, in defending this method in one of his interviews said: “Armed robbers are in the business of killing innocent people. I don’t know anyone who will complain if an armed robber is dead”. He stated that his main concern was to lower crimes in the state and would care less the method used to achieve that goal.

But Mbadinuju’s perceived greatest achievement in lowering crime in the state turned out to be his greatest undoing. He was said to be using the “Bakassi Boys” to fight his political adversaries, and that he turned the security outfit into his personal thugs to intimidate his opponents. He was fingered in the killing of Chief Godwin Odumegwu Okonkwo, a political rival and the former ANPP Chairman in Nnewi.

Then came the assassination of Mr. Barnabas Igwe, the then Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, Onitsha Branch; and his pregnant wife, Amaka. The political coffin of Mbadinuju was nailed with the death of the eminent couple. That was the climax of his downfall. But as his political life was ending, his legal trouble began.

Mbadinuju’s political problem began when he fell out with his political god-father; Sir Emeka Offor coupled with the fact that Mbadinuju had already signed away the state’s treasury to his god-fathers. It should be recalled that it was under Mbadinuju that the Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (IPSO) was authorized whereby Chis Uba was collecting monthly N10 million from the government for some shady contract. Having done this, the money he would use to pay government workers and to carry out other government activities were already mortgaged. It was also same IPSO that Gov. Chris Ngige refused to honor when he succeeded Mbadinuju that led to his falling out with Chris Uba.

Mbadinuju’s political stock fell faster than it rose. However, Anambra’s problem started when it allowed the so-called god-fathers who are mostly semi-literate people to run the state. Chinwoke Mbadinuju was hand-picked by the PDP cabal over an eminently qualified and tested Professor ABC Nwosu. It should be recalled that Professor Nwosu was a Commissioner for Health in the old Anambra state. It was under Nwosu’s reign as commissioner that guinea worm was virtually eradicated in the old Anambra state especially in Abakiliki area; and polio and all other deadly childhood diseases were check-mated. Professor Nwosu’s record of achievement did not impress the king-makers since they knew that he would be a tough customer to push around. They wanted a stooge, a figure-head they could manipulate and they got it in Mbadinuju.

After he was vanquished in 2003 as he was the only PDP governor to be denied second term, the forces that were pursuing him have not left him alone. When the Igwes were murdered in cold blood, Mbadinuju was fingered in the plot, even though he was in far-away Houston , USA, attending the World Igbo Congress. He waived his immunity under section 308 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and submitted himself for interrogation and prosecution. He was called all kinds of names and many believed that he had a hand in the murder of the Igwes. He was given a clean bill of health after a protracted legal battle, by both the magistrate courts and by a High court of competent jurisdiction.

A few months ago, an incorruptible Onitsha High Court Judge, Justice “Mgbedike” D.O.C. Amaechina held that there was no sufficient evidence to sustain a charge of murder, and discharged and acquitted Mbadinuju of complicity in the murder of the Igwes. Before his acquittals, he was jailed for about three months and suffered all kinds of humiliations. When he was incarcerated, some people were sponsored to poison him. When that failed, a prison melee was sponsored so that in that confusion, he would be killed. When that also failed, the prison was burned down just to get him and in that process thousands of inmates were released.

Now after he beat the charge of complicity in the murder of the Igwes, his political nemeses have not left him alone. They are now charging him with conspiracy and forgery. But it is the same police report they have used to prosecute him for 5 years, of which charges he had been acquitted of that they now turn around to say that he forged. What kind of system are we operating?

It is wrong to continue to persecute him for unsubstantiated and trumped up charges. No matter what anyone thinks of Mbadinuju, it is unjust to continue to victimize him without proof of any wrong-doing. I think that Mbadinuju has paid the price for his naivety. He has already paid the price for authorizing lawlessness during his tenure. The game of boomerang came back to him. One would argue that since he did not give the alleged criminals the benefit of the doubt before they were butchered by the AVS, but we operate in a civil society. Rule of law dictates that the law is supreme irrespective of who is involved. Mbadinuju is entitled to due process no matter what his antecedents are.

I am no fan of Mbadinuju because of what Anambra was made to go through during his administration, but I stand by what is right and what is just despite what he did in the past. In my previous articles titled: “Between Mbadinuju and His ‘Dead-woods’” published in on Wednesday 25th December, 2002 and another article “Governor Odera’ Mbadinuju: Time Is Ticking Away” published on Friday March 21, 2003; I fought him for the problems he brought to the state. Granted, Mbadinuju was the architect of his own woes. He dined with the proverbial devil and forgot to use a long spoon. Mbadinuju’s crime was that he was a fool, and allowed the semi-literate cabals to run him around. He was a figure-head and was never in charge of anything, because he tried to reap where he did not sow. He gave away his soul to the devil and now is blaming the devil for what the devil is doing with his soul. He was also a coward and lacked the balls unlike Ngige to tell those cabals to go to hell. That was the crimes of Mbadinuju, but I do not think that he is an evil man. I do not think that he would be that mean-spirited as to eliminate in the most bizarre manner the Igwes.

What did he stand to gain politically by eliminating his political foes in that manner? He already had enough political problems, why would he compound them by ordering the killing of the Igwes? It made no sense then and it still does not make any sense now. But let take for the sake of argument that he was that mean-spirited and dumb to be involved in that dastard act, where is the evidence linking him with the crime? Our adversary system of jurisprudence does not find someone guilty or a mere conjecture or guess work. There has to be a tangible evidence or even strong circumstantial evidence that would connect him with the murder. It is true that though he was away in Houston when the offence was committed, he could still be guilty of murder under our criminal code as a procurer of murder. But where is the evidence linking him as the procurer of the murder of the Igwes? He could not be convicted of murder merely because his political opponents and the public think so. Our judicial system does not work like that.

Also on the issue of forgery and conspiracy, is it not the same police report that was used to prosecute him all these while? Why did the police wake up after 5 years to find out that their own report was forged and that Mbadinuju was privy to its being forged? Why did they use the same police report to prosecute him and when he was discharged and acquitted in both Onitsha and Abuja Magistrate Courts, they now make a u-turn to say that the document was forged by him. The police have more explanation to give and should tell Nigerians whom they are working for. The police also have to explain their role in the murder of the Igwes and in fact all the unsolved assassinations in Nigeria. We have not forgotten the assassination of Bola Ige, Attorney General of the Federation; Harry Marshall, Professor Chimere Ikoku, former VC of UNN; Professor Victor Nwankwo, Monday Ndor, Member Rivers State House of Assembly; Theodore Agwatu, Principal Secretary to former Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo State; Ogbonnaya Uche (OGB), Ahman Pategi, Sunny Ugwu, Member of Enugu State House of Assembly; Odunayo Olagbaju, Chief A. K. Dikibo, Engr Funsho Williams, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Rewane, Toyin Onagoruwa, Janet Olapade, Schnapps Omuvwiebese, and so on. We have not forgotten the brutal killing through a letter bomb of Dele Giwa. The police have not solved any of these murders. The police should be the one that with cases to answer to Nigerians on why all these murders have been unsolved. The Inspector General of Police should be summoned by the National Assembly to give reasons why these killings still remain mysteries.

Mbadinuju should be allowed to wallow in his stupidity. Pray what else does he owe the god-fathers that they are still pursuing him? He is already a ruined man. He is no longer of any political relevance. In Anambra state, his name is a curse to the civil servants, pensioners and the generality of the state. He is also wrongly being denied his pension under the current Governor Obi’s government which cited his failure to pay pensioners.

Only God knows what happened to the Igwes. The Chief Security Officer under Mbadinuju, Hon. Chuma Nzeribe, should be summoned to explain his role in the whole matter. After all, he was in charge of AVS and the way and manner that the Igwes were murdered followed the same modus that the dreaded AVS use in killing their victims. I also suggest that a high powered Commission of Inquiry to be headed by a retired judge be instituted to unravel the mystery behind the murder of the Igwes. Everyone that has any information as to the murder of these fine couple should be encouraged to come forward. This madness should not be allowed to continue because today it is Mbadinuju, tomorrow it might be Ngige or Obi being persecuted. In Delta Igbo they would say “ogbu onye vu igu, obulu igu wa egbue”-if you molest a person carrying a palm frond, the time when you carry your own palm frond, someone else would molest you.


CSN: 39404-2008-14-30


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