By Chinyelude Udeze
On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 when Anambra State government under His Excellency, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, rolled out fifteen buses loaded with fully armed policemen, accompanied with a low bed truck conveying an excavator, little did Chief Ernest Nnadike of Inyaba Umudim, Nnewi North L.G.A who is a successful businessman based in Aba, Abia State, know that his ancestral home at Nnewi was marked for demolition.
The 56 year-old importer of block making machines in Aba could not stand to watch Anambra State government and Nigeria Police Force demolish his about 40 years old storey building in a rather bizarre and painful manner.
Chief Ernest Nnadike fought back tears as he narrated how it all started in 2012 during the governorship of His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi.
According to Chief Nnadike, in 2005, after the burial and funeral ceremonies of his junior brother Chief Benjamin Nnadike were concluded, as I was about to go back to his business base which is Aba, I asked one Lotanna Enemuo from Umuezena who is my maternal uncle to be taking care of his house in village Inyaba Umudim.
“In Chief Nnadike’s words, I gave Lotanna definite instruction that on no account will he bring anybody into the house under any guise. I also asked him to take care of the economic trees and use the proceeds for the upkeep of his family while he should consult me for any major repair in the house”.
“From that 2005, I did not visit home again till about October 2012 when someone from my village called me and told me that some kidnapers were arrested in his house by men of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). He further told him that the kidnappers were tenants in my house. I quickly put a call to Lotanna Enemuo but it was not going and I came down to Nnewi the following day”.
“When I arrived my ancestral home at Nnewi, both Lotanna Enemuo and his wife were not at home, they were with the police at Awkuzu. I then discovered that Lotanna went against my instruction and rented a section of the boys quarter to those two criminals without my knowledge”.
“The next day I went to the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) in Awkuzu to meet the police, incase they were looking for the landlord. After introducing myself as the landlord to the police authority, the police told me that their investigation did not indict me and told me that the Officer-In-charge of SARS at Awkuzu, Mr. Nwafor had gone to Nnewi in continuation of the investigation. I left Awkuzu to SARS office in Nnewi where I met Mr. Nwafor”.
“I introduced myself to Mr. Nwafor and told him what I knew. Mr. Nwafor gave me a clean bill of health, telling me that their investigation has exonerated me. The O.C SARS further told me that the suspected kidnappers even told them that they cannot identify the house owner since they have not met him before their arrest. I thanked the police for their good work”.
“On December 22, 2012, Chief Ernest Nnadike, his wife and children reportedly left Aba to spend their Christmas holiday at Nnewi, and for his children to get acquainted with their kith and kin after a long time outside home. On getting to their home at Nnewi, he reportedly met another detachment of heavily armed policemen in his compound with the wife of Lotanna Enemuo. The family became afraid, and on getting down from his car,Chief Nnadike approached and introduced himself to the leader of the team. He was welcomed and told that they were the police officers that sacked the kidnappers from his house, and were there only to conclude their investigation. They asked him to feel free and go into his house with his family and enjoy their holidays”.
“Initially, nobody understood what was happening when I was called in the late hours of Tuesday, October 7, 2014 by the man who was the new caretaker of my house in Nnewi, informing me that a team of policemen came to my house, informing them that his house was to be demolished the next day being Wednesday October 8, 2014 by Governor Willie Obiano’s administration”. In fact it was so much confusion for Chief Ernest Nduka and his family at Aba, especially as he did not understand where the instruction of his house demolition was coming from and what actually informed the unholy and unjustifiable punishment against him”.
As a man who believes so much in equity and justice and a good Nigerian citizen trained in United States of America, he asked his people if there was any paper served to his caretaker on his behalf and the answer was none. He said that from October 2012 till the day his house was demolished on October 8, 2014, neither the police nor any court in the land has invited him for interrogation justified the recent which would have action against an Innocent man”.
Having been told that the oral information was that his house was to be demolished by 10am on that fateful day, he left Aba early in the morning of Wednesday, October 8, 2014 and arrived Nnewi at about 9a.m. He was there when about fifteen buses fully loaded arrived his premises with heavily armed policemen and government officials from Awka at about 11 a.m. Shortly after their arrival, a low bed truck carrying an excavator arrived.
“There was so much confusion in the street and adjoining neighborhood. There were shouts and cries from the members of the community, saying that God should not allow this injustice to happen to an innocent man, this man doesn’t even live in Nnewi, we know him as a genuine transparent man, he was not a kidnapper, why this punishment? Go and demolish the house of the caretaker who knows the kidnappers, and so on”.
The decision has been taken and nobody could have listened to the voice of justice unless the executive governor of Anambra State, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano who is believed in all quarters in the state to have taken the war against all forms of crime to the door steps of the criminals. He has made Anambra State environment unconducive for the hoodlums. The instruction was finally carried out and the ancestral home of Chief Ernest Nnadike was reduced to rubbles in a few minutes.
“Villagers even volunteered to take the demolishing team to the house of the perpetrator, Lotanna Enemuo, Chief Ernest Nnadike’s maternal uncle from Umuezena village Umudim Nnewi, which is not up to 300 meters away from Chief Nnadike’s house to be demolished. They maintained that it was Lotanna who rented the house to the kidnappers in 2011 without the consent of Chief Nnadike who never came home since after the death of his loved junior brother in 2005. All these explanations did not make sense to the demolition team.
The demolition has left Chief Ernest Nnadike in a shadow of himself. He is not supporting the activities of kidnappers and other heinous crimes in Nigeria as a whole. Chief Ernest Nnadike believes that Nigeria has attained a good height in civilization and our democracy has given the common man the opportunity to explain himself in matters like this. He is of the opinion that even in a military dispensation, people have ample opportunity to explain himself in matters like this
In his own case, it is painful that he was not given any opportunity to explain himself, and moreover it was an incident that happened in 2012 under Mr. Peter Obi who was the governor of Anambra state when it was passed as working rule by Anambra State House of Assembly. Mr. Obi saw what happened and reasoned along that line.
The government at that time understood the circumstance that brought his home into the kidnap saga in Umudim Nnewi and police finally gave their clean bill of health to Chief Ernest Nnadike
It is more painful that it was the same officer-in-charge of SARS in 2012 Mr. Nwafor when Chief Nnadike was exonerated of any criminal involvement that was still in charge on October 8, 2014 when the same ancestral home was demolished. It becomes clear that some people are misleading the state government which they took oath to protect.
If there is any need to revisit what happened in 2012, Chief Nnadike is of the opinion that he should be invited by the police authority for balanced investigation but nobody invited him.
He is a successful business man and has known address in Aba. An elephant does not hide in a market place.
Chief Nnadike argued that buildings being demolished in that regard are either those which kidnappers used the proceeds from the ransom paid by the relations of the kidnapped victims in building or where the owner of the house is a member of the gang that is being destroyed.
In his own case, Chief Nnadike stated that not any time did he rent his house to kidnappers nor get involved in any of their nefarious activities. He built his one storey- building about 40 years ago and was not mentioned as a member of any gang of kidnappers or armed robbers.
“It is really worrisome that the administration of governor Peter Obi, under which the incident took place, really went into the nitty gritties of this matter and did not tamper with my ancestral home, only for it to be re-visited without due process and bring down my house. I strongly believe that the action was not ordinary. Some people are out for mischief”
“It is the duty of the government to protect life and property of her citizens and not to destroy life and property. The man who rented my house without my knowledge to those kidnappers is now walking tall in the community and his house is still standing”.
Chief Nnadike who is in a state of agony wondered why he should be a victim. Presently he is consulting with his people and has asked his lawyers to write the state government on the matter. It is absurd that in this day and age, demolition of a house of an “innocent man” should be condoned by anybody. Government should promote the greatest good of the greatest number, and should indeed be committed to the promotion of justice, peace and fair play.