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Nigerian Police

23.05.2024 Featured Over Land Tussle in Imo, Police Keep Man in Abuja Custody for a Month — ‘Because Powerful Ex-Military Officer Is Involved’

Published 23rd May, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal

On April 20, officers of the Nigeria Police Force, Abuja, arrested Joseph Oluigbo, an Abuja-based furniture upholsterer, for failing to provide the people he had served as surety for in a land dispute matter involving Felix Ihenacho, a retired Air Force officer, and the Uzoma family of Umuokwaraku in Imo State.

Oluigbo had served as surety for Chief Maurice Onwukwe, Ugochukwu Diala, two elders in Umoparaku Community, after they were invited by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Monitoring Unit, Force Headquarters, Abuja. Six elders, including Charles Ike, Cyril Oluigbo, Chief Sixtus Iwuala and Fidelis Ihenacho, had been invited, but only two could honour the invitation due to health challenges.

The two are the reason Oluigbo has spent one month in police detention without being charged or presented with the option of bail.

READ ALSO: 3 Weeks After Honouring Invitation, NATCOM DG Still in SWAT Custody Without Charge

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

In 2021, a land dispute broke out between the Ihenacho family and the people of Umuoparaku Community of Imo State. This case was becoming difficult to handle, and the matter was taken to Umuduruokoro, a neighbouring community.

Uchenna Iwuala, one of the people familiar with the matter, told FIJ that the dispute was resolved in favour of the people of Umuoparaku Community, a resolution that didn’t sit well with Felix.

He said Felix would then resort to enforcing the election of new leaders in the community as well as the intimidation and harassment of its members with officers of the Nigerian Army and the police.

Retired military Captain, Felix Ihenacho
Retired Captain Felix Ihenacho

“He also asked executives of Umuduruokoro to resign from their positions and single-handedly appointed those loyal to him in their stead. This disintegrated the community into two groups: those loyal to him and those on the other side,” said Iwuala.

He further stated that Felix didn’t stop there, as he proceeded to write a petition to the force headquarters and levy untrue allegations against the elders who did not support his intimidation.

Joseph Oluigbo
Joseph Oluigbo

“Following Felix’s petition to the IGP, the police invited the elders of the community to Abuja in February 2023, but only two of them could attend due to the distance and different health issues. When they arrived in Abuja, they were detained, and Oluigbo, who stays in Abuja, took their bail,” Iwuala told FIJ.

CONTINUED INTIMIDATION FOR ONE MONTH

Iwuala told FIJ that the community thought the case had been resolved after the bail of the two elders but in February 2024, the community received another invite from the police, summoning them for further questioning.

“Fast track to February 2024, we thought the matter was under control until the community received another invite from the police, asking them to appear at the force headquarters,” Iwuala said.

“But due to the prevailing economic challenges, they could not honour the invitation. The police then arrested Oluigbo, saying that he was the one who stood as surety for the men.

“They arrested him on April 20, and he was not released until this afternoon, after he was taken to the hospital due to his deteriorating health. While he was in custody, they refused to charge him in court or even grant him bail despite clamours for his release.”

READ ALSO: FPRO Adejobi Threatens X User With Prosecution Over Comment on IGPs

Oluigbo was released by the Nigerian police on Monday afternoon, after being rushed to the hospital from detention over his health. FIJ understands that elders of the community also flew to Abuja on Monday in a bid to secure Oluigbo’s release.

“When the elders got there, they were also first detained but released on bail. The community is asking that the case be transferred to Imo State, where the land tussle is, but the police have refused,” Iwuala said.

When FIJ called Felix Ihenacho for comments, his line wasn’t available. WhatsApp and text messages also sent to him on Tuesday afternoon were yet to be responded to at press time.

When FIJ called Muyiwa Adejobi, the Police Force Public Relations Officer, for comments, his line was unreachable. A text message sent to him had also not been responded to at press time.

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Published 23rd May, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal

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