44, Alhaja Kofoworola Crescent,
Obafemi Awolowo Way,
‘I WAS FRAMED UP AND IMPRISONED BY GOVERNOR IKEDI OHAKIM’S AGENTS TO PREVENT ME FROM APPEARING IN COURT TO PRESS MY HUMAN RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT CASE AGAINST HIM. NOW THEY WANT TO POISON ME IN PRISON.’- Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha.
RECKLESS ABUSE OF JUDICIAL PROCESS AND POWER BY CHIEF MAGISTRATE VICTORIA ISIGUZO!
Network on Police Reform in Nigeria hereby issues an urgent alert following shocking ‘Prison Notes’ it has received from Samuelson Ikenna Iwuoha alleging attempts by agents of Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim to poison him in Owerri prisons.
`Samuelson Iwuoha was, on Friday 2nd July, 2010 jailed three months without option of fine for ‘contempt of court’.
By Samuelson’s own account, he was in Magistrate Court 1, Owerri, Imo State on Friday 2nd July 2010 to answer to his pending case in which Governor Ikedi Ohakim is accusing him of defaming him. When the case was called up, he mounted the dock. Rather than proceeding with the case that brought Samuelson to court, Chief Magistrate Victoria Isiguzo, the presiding Chief Magistrate brought out a copy of NEWSPOINT Newspaper edition of 21st June, 2010 and held it up before Samuelson pointing to him the front page story entitled ‘NJC ASKED TO DISMISS MAGISTRATE’. The story bore Samuelson’s photograph.
Chief Magistrate Isiguzo asked Samuelson whether he granted an interview to the newspaper, to which he answered in the negative. She asked him again whether he had a press conference with the newspaper. And he also answered no! Then she asked him why his photograph was attached to the story? And he answered that his photographs ares everywhere and that various media have been publishing his photographs with stories that concern him.
At this point, Samuelson further stated, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Imo State, Mr. Akobundu stood up and told the court that Samuelson Iwuoha was the owner and publisher of Newspoint Newspaper. Then the Magistrate said ‘This is contempt of court’, and immediately sentenced him to three months jail term.
After the Magistrate pronounced the sentence, the DPP stood up again and told her that ‘Samuelson is not the owner but the Newspaper publishes his works’.
According to Samuelson’s lawyer, ‘The NEWSPOINT Newspaper report which Samuelson denies writing or granting interview of attacked Chief Magistrate Victoria Isiguzo as Governor Ohakim's hatchet woman. He was not given any hearing. No charge was brought against him. Even after he denied knowing anything about the story in the local Newspoint Newspapers, the Magistrate merely bent down, and wrote her judgment. She refused to either hear evidence or entertain any pleas from counsel. She later went away with the record book, thus frustrating efforts at getting a copy of the proceedings.'
Samuelson stated that his lawyers plan to file an appeal at a superior court but the Magistrate has frustrated this by her refusal to make available the record of proceedings.
Samuelson alleges that he was framed up by agents of Governor Ohakim in order to keep him out of circulation over his unrelenting criticisms of the governor’s ‘corrupt, inept and antidemocratic administration’. Samuelson said he instituted fundamental human rights enforcement proceedings against Governor Ohakim after the governor personally assaulted and seriously bruiced him in his office on January 21, 2010. The governor later handed him over the CP Imo State who detained him for six days in his bloodied condition and arraigned him before the self-same Chief Magistrate Isiguzo. The Magistrate initially refused to grant him bail. Samuelson’s case against Ohakim was to come up on July 6, 2010 at High Court No. 6, Owerri, presided over by Justice Egede. Samuelson asserts that he was framed up and jailed to prevent him from appearing in court to press this case against the Governor.
Samuelson also alleges that agents of Ohakim are making attempts to poison him in prison.
Violating the Rule of Natural Justice
NOPRIN considers it as being against the rule of natural justice for Chief Magistrate Victoria Isiguzo to have presided over a case in which she is the accuser, and went ahead to jail the accused. By jailing Samuelson in such a bizarre manner that brazenly violates due process, she has proved that she is indeed, Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s hatchet woman: a hatchet Magistrate?
WHO IS CHIEF MAGISTRATE VICTORIA ISIGUZO?
- Chief Magistrate Isiguzo has been severally described as Governor Ohakim’s ‘hatchet woman’. Virtually all cases in which the governor has interest are assigned to her court.
- Chief Magistrate Isiguzo hails from the same community as Governor Ohakim's Deputy Governor, Dr. Ada Okwuonu. Dr. Ada Okwuonu influenced Mrs. Isiguzo’s elevation by Governor Ohakim to a Chief Magistrate.
- Chief Magistrate Isiguzo's husband- Chibututu Ishiguzo was the Deputy Governor's nominee to the immediate past Ezinihitte Local Government Transitional Committee (TC) set up by Ohakim in place of a democratically elected local government leadership.
- After serving in the TC, the Deputy Governor appointed Mr. Isiguzo (the Chief Magistrate’s husband) Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties to the Deputy Governor, a post he is currently occupying.
- After Governor Ohakim dispatched his hit squad to abduct Samuelson and bring him before him; and after he assaulted and brutalised Samuelson in his office, he had him detained by the Imo State Commisioner of Police, Mr. Aloysius Okorie for six days. It was before Chief Magistrate Isiguzo that he was arraigned for allegedly defaming the Governor. Mrs. Isiguzo initially refused to grant Samuelson bail despite the need for him for get urgent medical attention for the brutal assault the governor meted to him.
- Twice, the former Chairman of PDP in Imo State and leader of opposition- Dr. Alex Obi have been framed up by the police in the state and detained at the behest of the governor. It was also before Chief Magistrate Isiguzo that he was arraigned on all occasions and on frivolous charges of ‘conduct capable of inciting public…’ and ‘sedition’, respectively.
- On Thursday, April 1, 2010 Ohakim's hit squad led by George Egu, his Special Adviser on Security, and his CSO attacked and demolished a printing press belonging to Ike Ibe, another opposition member, allegedly for printing materials for the opposition. Seven staff members of the printing press were mercilessly beaten, bundled to the government house and dehumanised, and later handed over to the CP who ordered their detention for several days. It was also before Chief Magistrate Isiguzo that they were later arraigned allegedly for publishing and being in possession of subversive materials. The list is inexhaustible.
- On Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th of July, 2010, officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice and National Human Rights Commission visited Owerri Prisons on prison audit. They met with and interviewed Samuelson Ikenna Iwuoha and found to their chagrin that Chief Magistrate Isiguzo was yet to make the proceedings available to Samuelson's lawyers to enable them challenge Isiguzo's ‘evil judgment’ before a superior court
Samuelson and Ohakim: A Running Battle
It will be recalled that on the 21st January 2010, the Governor of Imo state, Ikedi Ohakim, sent a team of armed Policemen from amongst his security details to abduct and produce Samuelson to him in the Government House, Owerri.
Governor Ohakim’s anger was that Ikenna samuelson Iwuoha, an internet journalist has been writing articles critical of his administration. In the early hours of the said January 21st, 2010 the Policemen abducted Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha from his residence at Ikenegbu Layout Extension, Owerri and marched him straight to the Governor’s Office at the Government House, and he was locked up and unlawfully detained on the instructions of the Governor.
The Governor brutally assaulted Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha, kicked and marched on him with shoes, mercilessly flogged him with horse whip until he began to bleed profusely. Before lacerating Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha, the Governor and his Chief Security officer stripped him naked and gave him deadly blows on his mouth followed by a head butt.
While this brutal assault and torture were going on, the Governor’s Chief Security Officer who is a serving Police Officer pulled out his gun and continued to point same at Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha threatening that if he ever retaliated or touched His Excellency, he, the Chief Security Officer would shoot him dead.
Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha was subsequently handed over to the Imo State Police Commissioner, Mr. Aloysius Okorie who ordered that Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha be detained by his men and arraigned in court all at the pleasure of the Governor.
- NOPRIN hereby calls on the Chief Judge of Imo State and the State Judicial Committee, to order Chief magistrate Isiguzo to release without further delay the record of proceedings to Samuelson’s lawyers to enable them discharge their duties to their client
- NOPRIN also calls on the Chief Judge of Imo State and the State Judicial Committee to investigate the reckless and disreputable conduct of Chief Magistrate Isiguzo with a view to dismissing her for abuse of power, abuse of the judicial process and for bringing the State judiciary into disrepute.
- NOPRIN calls on the Imo State Comptroller of Prisons to take effective measures to guarantee the safety of Samuelson Iwuoha in prison.
Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) is a network of 46 civil society organizations spread across Nigeria, and committed to promoting police accountability and respect for human rights. It was established in 2000 to provide opportunity for civil society involvement in police reform, and the promotion of safety, security and justice in Nigeria. NOPRIN carries out its mandate through monitoring, field research and investigation, documentation, publication, campaign and advocacy. NOPRIN partners with national, international, governmental and intergovernmental organizations and institutions in implementing its programs aimed at transforming law enforcement institutions and practices in Nigeria.