Friday, 22 November 2019

Uniformed Policemen Kidnapped Me, Killed My Orderly - Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme

A group of women had come visiting. The women, most of them, Choristers came from the Cathedral Of The Transfiguration Of The Lord, (CATOL), Anglican Communion, Owerri.

They came to rejoice with one of their own, Hon. Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, PhD, who had just come back from the Lion’s den. In her words she came out from the land of the dead.

So, the women came to celebrate with her and her family, to praise God for His mercies and protection.

Nwosu-Iheme, is CATOL’s parishioner.

Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme was abducted inside Benin City, around 11.30am, on October 30, not along the Benin- Agbor road as was reported in the media.

For four days, her abductors made no contact with her family or anybody. On the 5th day, they did, and named their price.

And negotiations began

Days ran into two weeks. The negotiation went back on forth. An agreement was reached. On the 13th day, they called for the ransom money to be delivered. They promised to release her that night, somewhere, in Benin. It didn’t happen. And they made no other contact.

But on the 14th day, late evening, Her Lordship’s voice was the sweetest heard by her family in decades of her being wife and mom.

She called from the Protea Hotel, Benin City, to say she has been released; that she was free, and safe.

The CATOL women who came visiting just wanted to see her. To thank God. To pray with, and for her. And to hear her voice, even one word, one sentence.

They got more than they bargained for. They heard the story of her ordeal, why, and how she was abducted.

At some point, a number of the women became emotional. And so did Nwosu-Iheme, especially, when she spoke about her Police Orderly of 12 years, an Inspector. Her voice cracked. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “He was my friend, my kid brother, my Chief Security Officer. He was different. An honest police officer. He lived with me for 12 years.

For those 12 years, he protected me with his skin. And finally, he gave his life for me. As long as I live , as long as my family members live, his family will never suffer. His six children will go to any school of their choice, to any level. That’s a promise we, as a family, have made to God.”

Abduction, Not Pre-planned. She Ran Into Her Abductors

Justice Nwosu-Iheme’s abduction shocked Nigerians and the International community. Nigeria’s first female Judge to have a PhD, reputed for her fearlessness and no-nonsense stand on issues, she had handled many sensitive cases, including the notorious ‘Otokoto case’. At a very young age, she fearlessly, took on the case which had been rejected by a couple of other Judges. The fear when she was abducted was: Who dunnit?

Of the Appeal Court Division, Benin, she was presiding over appeal cases emanating from the 2019 General election at the time of her abduction. So, was she kidnapped because of the cases the Court was handling and/or had handled – Political or otherwise?

But she rubbished such fears and thoughts. The Appeal Court, unlike the High Court, is not a-one man show. Usually, three Judges sit on an Appeal.

Her abduction was not pre-planned, she emphasized. She was at the right place at the wrong time.

Done with her duties in Benin,the Judge was on her way to Owerri when the unfortunate incident amazingly took place inside Benin City.

The abduction scene was a stretch of bad road in the city. Every motorist usually slowed down there. As her car was approaching the spot, there were “uniformed policemen” there. Well-kitted, they packed their double-decked Hilux vehicle, stood-by, AK 47 guns in hand.

They were kidnappers. She didn’t know. Nobody knew. They had already, earlier, kidnapped four people, including, mother and daughter. There was, also, a young ex-FUTO student, an engineer, who wept like a baby as soon as she recognised Nwosu-Iheme. He was classmates with her son at FUTO. The Judge was in the habit of feeding all of them fat, and giving them pocket money each time they visited.

The Kidnappers were waiting to kidnap more people when Her Lordship’s SUV, bearing an FG plate number and Judiciary, approached. They saw a Policeman sitting in front, and knew that whoever must have a kidnap value. They smiled, and readied themselves for action.

As her vehicle slowed down, they saluted her. She raised her hand and took their compliments. That was when they struck.

Before she brought down the hand she had just used to take the compliments, a volley of gun shots rained. Confused, she wondered where the shots came from. Momentarily, she relaxed, thinking she was in the midst of Policemen. But, instinctively, she bent her head down. And so did her Orderly, or so she thought. She didn’t know that he had been fatally shot. He was wearing a bullet proof vest. They knew and, so, aimed at his forehead.

Before she could comprehend what was happening, scores of bullets rained again, this time, shattering her car’s two back tyres.

She told her driver to drive on. Since it was in the city, broad day light, she thought, an intervention would come. None came.

She said she had two options: To feign she was dead, or to allow them take her. She discarded the former. If she feigned she was dead, they may in anger, for losing a high profile price, pump bullets into her. She opted to be brought out from the car, and put in the Hilux. That was where she met the others earlier kidnapped.

Six men, wearing Police uniform did the job.

“I was not a target. I was not trailed. Nobody double-crossed my car. I was not on the Benin-Agbor road. It was in Benin city. I ran into them. Four people had been kidnapped before me. If I had delayed anywhere by 20 minutes, that would have saved us. They would have driven off before our arrival”.

The Joy Of The Kidnappers

As soon as they put her in the hilux, the first thing they did was to grab her wrist watch. They looked at it, they screamed. Their joy knew no bounds. These guys knew the make. Then, they grabbed her rings and her bangles, and screamed some more. They went back to her car, took her hand bag, saw the quality, and knew they had hit a jackpot.

Then, they went back and grabbed her suit case. They took their time. Yet, the thousands of Security personnel in Benin – Military, Police, Civil Defence, Para- military – were nowhere near! God has buttered their bread, the abductors exclaimed. They, therefore, discarded the idea of waiting for some more victims. Justice Nwosu-Iheme was more than enough. They drove off, unconfronted. And this was inside Benin City!

They asked their five victims to bend down, as they drove on, just so nobody would see them and suspect anything. But there was no need. They knew their route. Until they got to their final destination, they met no military or police check-point.

Madam Justice, You Have Broken The Internet

Final destination was a house – completed, not uncompleted, as had been speculated.

By the next morning, they had known her identity, fully. Smart guys, they relied on the internet to follow reactions to their exploits of the previous day. The Social media provided that. It was awash with her very rich Curriculum Vitae. What they read gave them joy unlimited. A Judge of the Appeal Court. (They called it Appeal Supreme Court). Nigeria’s first female Judge to have a PhD. Well respected and regarded.

Holds the key to a city in the USA. Dotting husband. Well behaved children – all lawyers, medical doctor, engineer. Had handled high profile sensitive cases. What else? The Social media had it all. So, they told her: “Madam Justice, you have broken the internet. We thank God for providing you for us. We are happy you are in our midst. After you, we will not embark on any other job for the next six months. God has blessed us with you in our midst”.

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