On August 28, 2021, Saturday Sun published an interview titled ‘My case against Ohakim, by Amuchinwa,’ in which Ms Chinyere Amuchinwa (née Igwegbe) spoke about issues she is having with Dr. Ikedi Ohakim, former governor of Imo State.
As a reply to Amuchinwa’s allegations, Duncan Odey, media adviser to Ohakim, told his principal’s side of the story.
What really happened
What is actually playing out here is that Ms Amuchinwa is seeking to profit from a friendship with the former governor that started in November 2018, in Arondizuogu, Imo State. She stirred the hornet’s nest when she granted a libelous interview to Premium Times that was published on August 18, 2020. In the said interview, where she claimed to be Ohakim’s mistress, she made wild and unsubstantiated allegations against the character of the former governor.
While claiming in that interview that she was in a relationship with Ohakim and that he gave her a diamond engagement ring, she told the online newspaper that: “I am an adult and I am entitled to date anybody I choose to.” In the same breath, she was also reeling out defamatory allegations in the media of giving Ohakim N500millin and that he photo-shopped her nude video. At the same time, she also took to writing several petitions against Ohakim. She petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP).
Ohakim himself had also, in the face of her constant harassment, preferred a petition to the IGP alleging blackmail, harassment, threats and subornation of false claims against Amuchinwa. Instead of investigating the petition, police and NAPTIP began to harass Ohakim with incessant invitations, which were sensationally published in the media.
In the meantime, Amuchinwa had roped in another accomplished Nigerian from her community named Chinedu Okpalaeke, who she had also accused of assisting Ohakim to “photo-shop” her nude video. In the worst development in the case, Amuchinwa had taken the matter to DCP Abba Kyari’s SARS in Abuja, by which five SARS officers travelled to Lagos and arrested Okpalaeke by 5am and forced him to pay for their flight back to Abuja where he was detained and his phones confiscated.
It took the intervention of Emeka Etiaba (SAN) before Okpalaeke was released and charged to court. The matter was later discontinued by the police after it discovered that Amuchinwa had supplied false information against Okpalaeke. Later, Ms Amuchinwa filed a civil action against Okpareke on the same matter of nude video but the matter was in this month of August dismissed for lacking merit.
It was the harassments that forced Ohakim to, in September 2020, file two applications for enforcement of his fundamental rights against the police, NAPTIP and Ms Amuchinwa. Ohakim had also, through his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, secured a court order against these parties; but in a strange twist, police disobeyed the order and filed two separate charges against Ohakim before the FCT High Court and Federal High Court, Abuja.
Meanwhile, Amuchinwa had, in addition to the petitions to NAPTIP and police, filed civil action against Ohakim on the same set of facts complained of in her petitions. And to clear his name from the mounting allegations against him, Dr Ohakim also filed a N5 billion libel suit against her before the High Court of Imo State for publishing defamatory falsehoods against him, including an audio that went viral accusing Ohakim of photo-shopping nude videos of women. While Ohakim’s civil action is still pending, that of Ms Amuchinwa has since been dismissed by the FCT High Court for lacking in merit.
In his supporting affidavit to his civil suit marked HOW /888/2020, Ohakim narrated how he met the defendant in Arondizuogu, Imo State in November 2018, whereupon, they became friends and later developed a close relationship that was based on trust.
NAPTIP’s investigation and Ohaki’s suits
While these suits were pending, NAPTIP issued an investigative report exonerating Ohakim and then joined in application brought by Ohakim’s lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, to terminate the fundamental rights actions pending before the High Court of Imo State in Owerri. Meanwhile, Ohakim was still facing the two charges marked FCT/HC/CR/993/2020 and FHC/ABJ/CS/287/2020, which bordered on the Amuchinwa’s allegations concerning the nude video and N500million.
But in a protest letter dated January 8, 2021 by his lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, the former governor asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to withdraw the multiple criminal charges filed against Ohakim by the police. He also called for a comprehensive investigation of all the issues that gave rise to the multiple charges against Ohakim.
The letter titled ”Re: Unlawful and Malicious Prosecution, Harassment, Intimidation, Defamation and False Information against Dr. Ikedi Ohakim at the behest of Ms Chinyere Amuchienwa-Igwegbe” specifically drew the attention of the IGP to the two charges filed against him before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
Ohakim, through his counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, referred the IGP to his petition of January 20, 2020, wherein, he complained about the assault on his person by Ms Chinyere Amuchienwa and her other unlawful acts by her towards him. The petition made the following additional prayers:
“That Ms Amuchinwa be required to produce self-authenticating evidence of having paid our client N500 million for a land that she clearly saw from the documents that do not belong to our client. For the avoidance of doubt, our client had a franchise to sell the said land and he gave Ms Igwegbe the title documents on trust when she claimed she could get a buyer in return for partaking in the agency commission. It is a normal thing done customarily in Nigeria when it comes to selling any landed property.”
“That Ms Amuchinwa must produce evidence of all the receipts and the name of the person who took delivery of the items she claimed our client purchased from her in the amount of N110 million; and why she is variously stating the amount in Euros and Naira.”
“That the nude video upon which our client is now being charged be subjected to a thorough forensic investigation to determine, between our client and Igwegbe, who made the video; whether the video is real or photo-shopped, who first sent the video out from the device with which it was made and the person(s) to whom the video was sent and when?
That Ms Igwegbe is required to produce credible scientific or forensic evidence that our client is in the unholy business of making indecent videos of women in cahoots with others, as alleged and published by Ms Igwegbe in the said audio hereby attached and on her various statements to the police and NAPTIP.”
The police investigation and action
Following the petition, the police embarked on a new investigation of the matter, only to discover that the information supplied to them by Ms Amuchinwa, which formed the basis of the two charges were false. The most significant evidence that confirmed the information as false relates to the contentious nude video of Amuchinwa, which was, through forensic analysis, found not to be photo-shopped but a selfie made by Ms Amuchinwa herself and sent out from the phone she made it with.
Accordingly, on March 12, 2021, the police filed a notice of discontinuance before the High Court of the FCT in relation to charge No: CR/993/2020 against Ohakim. The notice of discontinuance was filed before the court by Rotshang Faith Dimka, of the Legal/Prosecution section, FCIID, Force Headquarters, Abuja. Thus, Ohakim was on March 16, 2021, discharged and acquitted by the court on the said charges. The police thereafter, proceeded to the Federal High Court, Abuja division, where it equally filed a notice of discontinuance in relation to charge No: FHC/ABJ/CS/287/2020 against Dr Ikedi Ohakim and Chinedu Okpareke.
The notice of discontinuance dated March 15, 2021 was filed by Rotshang Faith Dimka. The proceedings in relation to this notice of discontinuance is still pending before Justice Taiwo Taiwo. All these are coupled with the fact that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) concluded its investigation and said the allegations of intimidation, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse made against Ohakim by Ms Amuchinwa cannot be substantiated. The position of the agency is contained in its preliminary investigation report on the matter.
In the interim, having established the fact that it was misled into filling charges against the former governor, the Inspector General of Police moved against the nominal complainant, Ms Amuchinwa for blackmailing Ohakim and for giving false information to the police. The police explained that fresh facts have emerged after the charges against Ohakim were preferred and which require reconsideration. Some of the fresh facts according to the police include the fact that “till date, the nominal complainant, despite her numerous interactions with the Investigating Police Officers (IPOs), and the legal section, has not submitted any physical evidence of making the alleged N500million payment to the defendant (Ohakim).”
The police said “for a charge grounded on this payment to succeed, the complainant must submit physical evidence, such as her bank statement showing contemporaneous withdrawals (if payments were made in cash, as she alluded). Otherwise, a paper trail of monetary transfer to the defendant would have sufficed. But that is not the case here.”
Continuing, the police stated: “That the scientific analysis of the video shows that the video was self-produced and staged and deliberately made by the complainant (Ms Amuchienwa). Accordingly, a four-count charge was filed against her before the High Court of the FCT, Abuja, by the IGP bordering on false information. In the said charge, the police accused Amuchienwa of supplying false information to the police with the intention to defame the defendants.
Count one of the charge reads: “that you Chinyere Amuchienwa Igwegbe (f) of 7b Emeida Estate Apo, Abuja, FCT, on or about August 14, 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did furnish police authorities with false information and via allegations in a petition by your solicitors, Agala and Agala chambers to a public servant against (1) Dr. Ikedi Ohakim (2) Chinedu Okpareke on allegations of criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation, defamation of character, attempted kidnapping and threat to life punishment with imprisonment, which could not be substantiated and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 140 of the penal code laws of Northen Nigeria.
In count two, the police accused her of furnishing the police authorities with false information via allegations in a petition against Dr. Ikedi Ohakim “on the false allegations that you paid Dr. Ikedi Ohakim the sum of N5 million for the purchase of a land in Lagos during the 2019 election, an allegations which could not be substantiated.”
In count three, she was accused of “intentionally exposed your genital organs and intentionally caused distress to other parties and that you did so with a selfie video with intention of deriving sexual pleasure from such act and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 26(3) of the violence against persons (prohibition)Act, 2015.
The prosecution said the offences are punishable under sections 140 of the Penal Code laws of the Northern Nigeria and Section 26 (3) of the Violence Against Persons (prohibition) Act, 2015.
It was on the basis of these charges that Ms Amuchinwa was arrested, detained and charged to court by the police and in a subsequent arraignment, she was freed on bail.
Ohakim not the aggressor
An analysis of the genesis of this matter reveals that it was not Ohakim that initiated the troubles but the woman. It all began with her public accusations against Ohakim, bordering on non-payment of a huge debt she could not prove. And in the midst of all that she had threatened Ohakim with consequences for “dumping” her after, as she had claimed, he gave her a diamond engagement ring.
This is perhaps why the police had charged the woman with blackmail because it would appear that monies she claimed, even though tagged as debts, were actually extortions against Ohakim for daring to end the relationship. How the nude video came into the picture can only be explained by the woman since it turned out that she was the one that had made and published the video.
Another twist to the saga is that it was Ms Amuchinwa that had the upper-hand at the initial time when she could easily get the police to do as she wished. That she was able to get the police to charge Ohakim to various courts tells the whole story of her influence with the police authorities and the consequences of failure to investigate complaints before taking action.
It’s instructive that the matter turned against the woman only after the police had taken time to investigate her allegations and found them to be all false. And this was after a strenuous effort by Ohakim and his lawyer. This very fact makes one to wonder how many innocent people might be languishing in jail and their names ruined just because of un-investigated allegations. It’s also a pointer to how vulnerable some eminent people can become at the hands of their former close associates, who may decide to resort to blackmail as a means of settling old scores.