Ignatius Okpara, Enugu
Nurses in Nigeria, under the banner of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association, UGONSA, have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over the continuous unjust detention of three of their members, for over one year now, demanding his intervention.
Similar petition which was made available to African Examiner has also been written to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, as well as the National Human Rights Commission.
Our correspondent reports that the nurses are being held over the alleged murder of one of their colleagues, Late Dr. Mrs. Maria Amadi who until her death was the Head, Nursing Services, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital (FNHE), Enugu.
In the letter to President Buhari signed by the Association’s National President, Chief S.O. Egwuenu and National Secretary, P.O. Etong, the body , argued that it was unjust for their colleagues to remain incarcerated based on mere suspicion.
Those being held include Mr. Afam Ndu and Mrs. Mrs. Buzo-Maduka Ruth. Another staff of the hospital, Mrs. Achara Stella is also being held. They have been in detention for over one year.
The nurses said they were irked over the detention of the said members “despite glaring evidence that showed that they had no hand in the death of the woman, especially as the armed robbers who robbed and shot her in the course of robbery, have not only confessed to the crime and recreated how they carried out the operation to the police, but have also been charged to court.”
They claimed that the nurses were still in detention because government was influencing the matter, “despite all facts that clearly point to their innocence.
“These innocent employees of the FNHE have been unjustly separated from their families for 18 months now for a crime they never committed.
“The background to the whole event was that Late Dr.Mrs. Maria Amadi was allegedly shot dead on Thursday, March 21, 2019, at Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Ekulu, Enugu and the incident led to the arrest and subsequent detention, the next day, of three of her colleagues at the Hospital.
Those arrested are, “Mrs. Buzo-Maduka Ruth, Mr. Afam Ndu and Mrs. Achara Stella, on a trumped-up allegation, that she said before her demise that she suspects people she does not get along with in her place of work to be behind the incident.
“While Mrs. Buzo-Maduka Ruth (a Deputy Director of Nursing) and Mr. Afam Ndu [who are nurses and members of our association, UGONSA] are respectively the Principal and Vice-Principal of the School of Post-Basic Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing of the FNHE (School of Nursing), Mrs. Achara Stella is a Principal Confidential Secretary in the Hospital.
“We showed remarkable equanimity when our members were unjustly and hurriedly clamped into detention without any shred of evidence over the unfortunate murder of Late Dr. Maria Amadi (who was also a Deputy Director of Nursing) simply because some people said they “suspected” the deceased does not get along with them well in their place of work.
“Because we were interested in getting real justice for the deceased and the entire nursing community we went all the way in urging those with useful information regarding the gruesome murder of the late nurse to come forth with such.
“Fortunately, someone who had useful information, as per who the real culprits are, in the person of Evangelist Tochukwu Obiorah (alias Iko Nso) approached the association.
“Evangelist Tochukwu Obiorah is not an ordinary person in the Enugu State Security circle. As at the time of the unfortunate incident of the murder of Late Nurse Maria Amadi till now, he is the Assistant State Commander of Enugu State Neighborhood Watch.
“As a top-notch leader of Enugu State Neighborhood Watch, he does not only cover the Trans-Ekulu axis where Nurse Maria Amadi was murdered but is also the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Ugboye and Ugbowa neighbourhood Watch in Abakpa-Nike, Enugu and has been a frontline Neighborhood Security Officer in Enugu State for the past 22 years.
“The useful information provided by Evangelist Tochukwu Obiorah led us to petition the Commissioner of Police Enugu State and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to launch a comprehensive investigation into the matter (Kindly refer Annexure A for our petition to the Enugu State Commissioner of Police copied to the IGP).
“A fresh investigation carried out by the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja, on the instruction of the IGP led to arrest of three suspected armed robbers that carried out the attack that caused the death of Mrs. Amadi, namely, Chidiebere Ochi, Amandi Ekwo and Uchenna Onuora.
“The suspects did not only confess to killing Dr. Mrs. Amadi in the course of robbing her but also recreated for the police how the incident happened .
“Instructively, the killer armed robbers also made it very clear that nobody contracted them to kill Dr.Amadi and that they do not know any of the FNHE employees who were unjustly accused and arrested over the death of the woman thereby completely absolving these poor FNHE employees from the false allegation of being behind the unfortunate death of the woman.
“This was also categorically confirmed and affirmed by the comprehensive report by the Legal/Prosecution Section, Force Criminal Intelligence & Investigation Department (FCIID) of the Nigerian Police Force as evidenced by its letter Ref NO C B3514/X/LEG/FHQ/ABJ/VOL.38/118 dated 28th November 2019, addressed to the commissioner of police Enugu State and copied to the Chief Judge Enugu State, the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice Enugu State and others signed by DCP Augustine Sanomi.
“Following their arrest, the armed robber suspects who shot and killed her were charged to court vide the charge No E/333C/2019, filed against them, before an Enugu High Court, signed by Mr. Celestine Odo, a Superintendent of Police, attached to the Legal/Prosecution Section, Force CID (Kindly refer Annexure C for the charge).
“Besides this, the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) after examining the substance of the case, in its letter to the Chief Judge of Enugu State Judiciary, Ref. No. NHRC/ABS/2019/056 dated January 14, 2020 3 described as “an aberration of justice” the continued incarceration of Mrs. Buzo-Maduka Ruth, Mr. Afam Ndu, and Mrs. Achara Stella over the same murder of Late Dr. Mrs. Maria Amadi which the police found and clearly stated they were not involved and for which the apprehended armed robber suspects that confessed to the crime have been charged to court.”
They said while they don’t want to give credence to rumour that the Enugu State Government was influencing the matter, “the conduct and body language of the State government over this case is seemingly tainted with bias and has left much to be desired.
“It poses a difficult challenge to completely absolve the power-that-be in Enugu State of not being manipulative in this case as a “mere suspicion” is being made to take the place of verifiable facts that the unjustly incarcerated trio have no hand in the unfortunate death of Late Dr. Mrs. Amadi as has been verily established by police investigation in this matter.
“We therefore, humbly implore that you demand from Governor Ugwuanyi and the Chief Judge of Enugu State to furnish your esteemed office and the general public with the reason why these innocent employees of the FHNE are still unjustly incarcerated despite mounting and formidable evidence that shows that they have no hand in the death of Dr. Mrs. Maraia Amadi.
“It is trite that it is better for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to be unjustly incarcerated over a crime they never committed.
“We passionately appeal for the kind intervention of your good office to free Mrs. Buzo-Maduka Ruth, Mr. Afam Ndu, and Mrs. Achara Stella over the inexplicable, unjust and unwarranted incarceration by the Enugu State government for the crime of murder of Dr. Mrs. Maraia Amadi, which they never committed, that have been ongoing since March 22, 2019.