How Imo Female Politician, Jessy Okoro was Abducted, Sexually Abused Says NOPRIN
- Officials Of Imo Ministry Of Justice Accused Of Stalling/Obstruction Of Prosecution And Perverting Of Justice
The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has written a petition to the Chief Judge of Imo State appealing for the Judge intervention in a case of Kidnapping, sexual abuse and obstruction of Justice by officials of the Imo State Ministry of Justice.
In the petition dated November 10, 2014, titled: Re: Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Sexual Abuse And Dehumanisation Of Mrs. Jessy Okoro; Stalling/Obstruction Of Prosecution And Attempt To Pervert Justice By Officials Of The Ministry Of Justice, Imo State:
(NOPRIN) a network of 46 civil society organizations spread across Nigeria, said; “NOPRIN writes to your Lordship concerning the case of one Mrs. Jessy Nkechi Okoro, a mother of five and an active politician from Ideato North Local Government Council of lmo State. On the 30th of May, 2011 at about 8 pm Mrs. Okoro was abducted/kidnapped from her hotel room at Bolingo Ranch Hotel Limited, Obodoukwu in Ideato North LGA by some armed men who invaded and broke into her room, beat, dragged and forced her into their bus. One of the armed men drove her SUV Jeep and they took her in their bus to an uncompleted building in a bush where they undressed her and her nudity captured in a video camera and photograph. They forcefully striped her to complete nudity and subjected her to sexual abuse, torture and humiliation. After undressing her, they directed the headlights of the vehicles at her and one of them took several photographs of her while another one video-recorded her in her complete nakedness.
According to NOPRIN it said; “They told her that her pride as a woman has been taken away. She identified her abductors as:
They demanded the sum of 5 million naira from her as ransom to free her. They collected all the money she had with her, amounting to 250,000.00 naira as well as jewelleries and other valuable items she had. They held her captive for about six hours before they took her to a market square called Afor Uruala in Ideato North at about 5am and abandoned her after robbing her of all the items in her vehicle.”
The petitioners also averred that; “She went home, cleaned up and went and reported her horrendous experience in the hands of her abductors to one Mr. Lawrence Okafor alias Armstrong, the leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Ideato North. It was Chief Lawrence that invited her and other party members to the meeting at the hotel from where she was abducted. Chief Lawrence invited the armed abductors and they admitted their misdeed but merely apologised and pleaded with the victim to bury the hatchet or risk her life.”
Meanwhile on the 3rd of June, the victim, Mrs. Okoro petitioned the Commissioner of Police, Imo State who ordered investigations into the matter. Some of the suspects were arrested and they made confessional statements. Others went into hiding.
Meanwhile it was gathered that, while police investigators from Imo State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Owerri were still investigating and working assiduously to arrest the other accused persons, the run-away suspects boasted that soon, police officers from the Force Headquarters, Abuja would come and take over the case and frustrate investigations. True to their boast, Police officers from the Inspector General of Police’s Monitoring Unit arrived Owerri, Imo State and took over the case. The complainant, Mrs Okoro now became the accused.
“Mrs Okoro was directed to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja at extra cost and to the convenience and pleasure of her abductors who continued to boast and threaten her with further harm. She was, however, granted bail by the new police investigators from Abuja.
When she arrived the police headquarters, Abuja, she narrated her ordeal in the hands of her abductors and the police, after investigation, were satisfied that her complaint was unimpeachable. The Legal Department of the Police Headquarters, Abuja recommended that the accused persons should be prosecuted for conspiracy, hostage/kidnapping, armed robbery, indecent assault and malicious damage.
The assailants continued to pester and persuade the victim’s aged father in the village to persuade her daughter to give up on this case and submit to settlement in the interest of her safety, but her father, insisted that justice must be allowed to take its full course as what her daughter’s abductors did was not only criminal, but also abominable. The abductors and their sponsors have been threatening the old man,” NOPRIN said.
According to NOPRIN, the exposure of Mrs. Okoro’s nakedness and the photographing and video coverage of her nakedness amount to sexual violence and a flagrant abuse of her human dignity which has affected her self esteem; “She has suffered psychological depression and believes that the sexual violence and dehumanisation meted to her was done with a view to intimidating and deterring her from continuing with her involvement in politics as a woman. Mrs. Okoro is yet to recover from the psychological devastation caused by the abuse, disgrace, humiliation, dehumanization and the torture she suffered in the hands of her abductors. She is even the more frustrated by the relentless efforts by some officials of the Imo State Judiciary who are colluding with the culprits to pervert justice.”
The petitioner averred that; “In a judgement given in a civil suit filed by Mrs. Okoro against her abductors, the learned Judge in a judgement delivered on Wednesday, the 19thday of June 2012 in HOR/59/2012, ruled inter alia that ‘the actions of the Respondents against the Applicants were grossly mired in utter mischief and malice and were executed in the bitterest of fashion in a most primitive and cruel manner and with impunity hence must be deprecated and damnified.’
‘Whereby this court holds, that the Applicants are entitled to their reliefs in this application except that the relief for damages only succeeds to the sum of N4,000,000.00 against the Respondents jointly and severally…”
As it is the culprits have appealed this judgement and the hearing on the appeal is yet to commence 2 years after (since 2012).
It was gathered that there has been attempt by the prosecutor at Imo state police command to shield the culprits, as seen in a memo from the Commissioner of Police (CP) Legal, Force Headquarters, in response to the IGP’s endorsement in a letter of complaint by the victim through her lawyers, the CP Legal observed that the accused were arraigned on the inappropriate charges of conspiracy, demanding property with menaces, indecent assault, stealing among others as against being charged with the offences of armed robbery and kidnapping.
“He noted that the police prosecutor, Amadi P.C. (ASP) for inexplicable reasons drafted and filed inappropriate and watered down charges at the Magistrate Court that led to the accused persons being granted bail and requested transfer of the prosecution of the case to another officer and a re-examination of the facts of the case vis-à-vis their claims.”
NOPRIN said; “The CP Legal, Force Headquarters, Abuja interviewed the prosecutor in the case, ASP Amadi P.C and also perused the case file to ascertain the facts of the case as to assess the appropriateness of the charges filed against the accused persons. The prosecutor in the case explained that he drafted and filed the charges based on his assessment of the facts of the case as well as the recommendations made in the Police Investigation Report of the IGP Monitoring Unit that investigated the case.
The CP Legal observed as follows:
- That the police investigation report is not comprehensive enough as it did not address the issue of such offences as armed robbery and kidnapping allegedly committed by the accused persons; which from the circumstances of the instant case, show that prima facie case as alleged exists;
- That from the facts of the case, ingredients of the offence of armed robbery, kidnapping among others are manifest considering the fact that the accused were armed when they used actual violence against the petitioners and unlawfully imprisoned her in the process.
“He therefore recommended, in the light of the above, that the charges against the accused be amended to include the alleged offences of armed robbery and kidnapping; that the case file be forwarded to the office of the CP Legal for legal advice while prosecution of the instant case be re-assigned to another prosecutor as requested by the petitioner.”
Meanwhile in a letter to the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Imo State, dated 23rd January, 2014 the victim through her solicitors appealed to the Attorney General to inquire from the Director of Public Prosecution, Imo State, the direction justice was headed in suit No. HOW/85C/2012 in State vs. Okwuchukwu Agu and 3 others.
Reminding the Honourable Attorney General that justice delayed is justice denied, the complainant informed him that from the onset of this matter, it appeared that key officers of Imo State Justice Ministry in the person of former Director of Public Prosecution Mrs. C. C. Dimkpa Esq. and many others not visible have allowed themselves to act as if they were compromised by the accused persons in this case to derail justice.”
“She urged the Attorney General to peruse through the information preferred in the High Court of Imo State against the accused persons to observe that not only vital charges earlier preferred by the police against the accused were grossly omitted in the information; also statements made by key prosecution witnesses in the names of Chidi Chinakara and James Obidike were also grossly omitted.
Accordingly, the accused person who were charged with the offense of armed robbery, hostage taking (kidnapping) and sexual assault in the Magistrate court by the police in charge No MID/40C/2011 in COP vs. Okwuchukwu Agu and 3 others were later charged with only the offences of hostage taking before the High Court 3 Owerri while the offences of armed robbery, assault and malicious damage were grossly omitted by the Justice Ministry under the hand of one PC Nwanyanwu Snr., State Counsel who preferred the information against the accused persons.”
According to the petitioners; “Ever since the information was served by the Ministry of Justice Imo State on the accused persons on 15th August 2012, the case has not been mentioned against the accused persons, notwithstanding the affidavit of service deposed by one Aruforo Stephen, a Chief Bailiff of the Owerri High Court. The Ministry of Justice Imo State is frustrating the efforts of the police.”
Meanwhile, in her determination to get justice, Mrs Okoro, despite the attempt by the accused, first to obstruct police investigations and later, the obstacles being placed on the way of speedy criminal trial of the culprits by the Imo State Judiciary, having been compromised by the culprits, Mrs. Okoro, through her solicitors, also wrote to the Governor of Imo State Mr. Rochas Okorocha and his wife appealing to them to use their good offices and positions to assist her in her search for justice by ensuring that the Ministry of Justice, Imo State allows justice to take its due course unhindered.
“In a petition she addressed to the Governor of Imo State Mr. Rochas Okorocha, entitled ‘DEHUMANIZATION AND FORCED PORNOGRAPHY OF HON. MRS JESSY NKECHI OKORO’ dated 22d June 2011 and a subsequent letter dated 24 June 2014 which she addressed to the wife of the Governor, she appealed for the assistance of the Governor and his wife in her search for justice. As at date, none of these letters of appeal has been replied or acted upon.
“In her petition to the governor’s wife, Mrs. Okoro narrated how the DPP C.C Dimkpa colluded with the culprits to frustrate their prosecution until she petitioned against her, resulting to her removal. Barr. Akubundu, who took over from Mrs Dimpka as DPP, then charged the culprits with abduction/kidnapping before High Court 3, Owerri presided over by Justice Pascal Nnadi. However, since 2012 when the culprits were charged, their trial has been stalled through the interference of the then Attorney General Mr. Soronnadi Njoku who in 2013 directed that further prosecution should stop. It took the victim’s appeal to, and the intervention of, the Deputy Governor for the case to be reopened. Yet, it has continued to suffer incessant adjournments through the interference of the culprits and their agents in the Ministry of Justice, Imo State. They boast openly that the case is dead. They also do not appear in court. The culprits have also been fighting back by writing petitions against the new DPP for filling the appropriate charges against them.”