By Chukwudi Nweje
Ms Chinyere Amuchinwa, a businesswoman, recently briefed Femi Falana Chambers to represent her in a case of unlawful arrest and detention by the police, arising from her problem with former Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim.
Amuchinwa had sent a petition to the Inspector General of Police alleging threat, intimidation and defamation by Ohakim over her allegation that the ex-governor collected money and goods from her shop and failed to pay.
In a twist, the police arrested Amuchinwa at the premises of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a claim that her allegations were false. She said she was detained for two weeks, locked in a toilet and denied access to family and friends.
Here, for the first time, Amuchinwa told her story.
I won’t give up the fight
My names are Chinyere Lillian Amuchinwa Igwegbe. Some people call me by my maiden name. I was married. I married the way it is supposed to be, according to Igbo culture and tradition. I am a very private woman and a decent person. I’m from Arondizuogu. I’m also an Odum and have the blood of Odum in me. If you have read Omenuko, he was my grandfather. I am a fighter and I will fight to finish no matter what it takes or how long it takes, justice must be given.
I had said this before. I am saying it again. Ohakim took me to a parcel of land near the international airport in Ikeja, Lagos and said it belonged to him. He collected money from me for the land. It turned out that the land does not belong to him. He has been dodging to answer questions on this. I’m fighting to ensure that justice is given. It is not a battle; it is simple; somebody made an accusation against you, you should come to a court of law to clear yourself. That is not acceptable to me; conspiracy can never work. I will fight, no matter what it takes or how long it takes; justice must be done.
How it started
I am a clothier and have been for years; that is what I do for a living and I’m well known for it. I came back from Los Angeles, USA sometime around November 2, 2019, just before Christmas. During that period, Ohakim came into my store. He saw some goods he wanted and took them; he said his ATM card wasn’t working and promised that he would pay for the goods later, but till today he has not paid a penny. When the police invited us for an interview, Ohakim was asked to bring those goods as an exhibit but he has failed to bring them. Luckily for me, there is a witness.
I never pulled a gun
That was a false allegation that he made to the police and the police found out that it was not true. He said that I came to Bon Hotel, Asokoro and that I was the one that checked into the room but when the police investigated they found out that he was the one that checked into the room. Everyone involved was called to make a statement. The hotel management made a statement. The police in Asokoro made their own report and all the statements are there with the police. You must know that Ohakim was the one who went to the police to report me, that was when Ibrahim Larmode was at the Police Intelligence Bureau (PIB) and he never brought any evidence to support his allegations. Larmode asked him to support his accusations against me with evidence, the same way I supported my accusation against him with evidence, but he didn’t have any.
How I met Ohakim
I first met him in my village, where I went for the funeral of a woman I loved so much. It was one Philomena Ogugua who gave him my telephone number and he started calling me. He then came to my house where I’ve lived for over 18 years.
He said he wanted to come to my village and asked me to help him talk to my traditional ruler. He said he wanted to come and talk to them. I didn’t know I was being used because I was naive. He used me to get into my village.
Me, Ohakim’s mistress? Never!
It is an insult for people to call me Ohakim’s mistress. What am I looking for on earth that I will so be? I am a Platinum member of Air France for life. Ohakim should face the accusation that we are talking about. One thing I want to leave you with is that the police investigated everything that transpired between me and Ohakim and the reports are there. I have the certified true copies (CTC) of everything. I want to tell Ohakim that all my charges against him are still valid, nothing has changed. I want to tell him to meet me in court.
They uploaded my nude photos
Ohakim and one Chinedu threatened and actually uploaded nude photos of myself to the internet. They did not just threaten, they did what they said. We both made statements at the police station. In his own statement, Ohakim wrote that if the investigation did not stop he will throw in a video.” I replied to him that he could send whatever video he had to CNN because the investigation must continue. When we were being interviewed by Larmode and four other police officers, he gave them a USB flash drive, Larmode asked him if the content of the flash drive was connected with the case and he said yes.
It is left for Ohakim and Chinedu to say what was in the flash drive or what they did. I know that investigation was done and one of the people that he used, one Kingsley, was found wanting. He revealed everything that transpired, pleaded guilty to defamation and falsehood and has been sentenced. It is the main reason Ohakim has been dodging to appear before the court because the truth must come out.
Arrested in court premises
We were coming out of the court over the same allegation of blackmail when suddenly and shockingly I was arrested by the police. There was no warrant. I was just arrested and detained for two weeks. They took my phones and I was not allowed to call or talk to anybody. I was locked in a toilet. As I speak today I don’t know why I was arrested. I’m sure most people are also wondering why I was arrested. I don’t know whether DIG Joseph Egbunike, who sent them to arrest me, has become a court of law. The police do not decide matters. It is the court of law that can decide.
Why I brought in Femi Falana
He is a core professional. He stands for justice and he is a human rights lawyer. What I know about Femi Falana is that he believes in justice; he will go to the extent of digging to find the truth. I need him to dig into my matter and seek out the truth. That is why I went to Femi Falana Chambers to take up my case, dig into it and find out why I was arrested.
Why AGF took over the case
Ohakim never appeared before the police when they invited us. He kept throwing in letters that he was sick. At a point I went to the IG of police and asked him why he was tolerating him. It was not until former IG Mohammed Adamu ordered Ohakim’s arrest that he appeared.
He later threw in another paper that the police said they wanted to discontinue. I am not a lawyer, but I know the AGF is the highest law officer. I received an invitation from Joseph Egbunike to come to FCID to talk about my petition against Ohakim. I quickly went to the AGF’s office and showed them the invitation letter. They responded accordingly and asked why the police were inviting me on a matter that was no longer with them. They were told that any information they wanted should be directed to the AGF’s office.
All I want is justice
I seek justice. Ohakim has been dodging. If he thinks I will succumb, I will not. Also, I want to know when DIG Joseph Egbunike became a judge that he can arrest and detain people without a warrant.
Why civil society groups protested at Owerri court
There is a magistrate in Owerri being used to frustrate the case. The protest was to let the world know what was going on. It shut down the High Court complex in Owerri and stopped court sittings. We have also written to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to complain.