Open Letter to DG sss:
24th June, 2009
The Director General,
State Security Services,
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE DIRECTOR- GENERAL OF SSS OVER THE UNLAWFUL KIDNAP AND CONTINUOUS DETENTION OF FRANCIS CHINONSO UMEH BY MEN AND OFFICERS OF THE STATE SECURITY SERVICES AT THE INSTANCE OF IGWE OGBERURU, A TRADITIONAL RULER IN ORLU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF IMO STATE
We are solicitors acting for and on behalf of Nicodemus Umeh's Family (hereinafter referred to as “our client”). We have our client's instruction to write.
Our brief reveals that on the 18th day of May 2009, Mr. Francis Chinonso Umeh, a member of our client, was traveling from Aboh village to Orlu town in Imo State in a vehicle with one Mr Christian Emerole, when suddenly his car was stopped by a group later identified as “the New face of Imo Vigilante Group” who barricaded his way with heavy road blocks. The men abducted Mr. Francis and took him to an unknown destination, Mr. Christian Emerole was allowed to go. Two members of this group were identified as Mr. Emeka Nnawo and Mr. Sunday Ughala.
Upon further investigation, our client discovered that Mr. Francis was actually arrested at the instance of Igwe Ogberuru after Igwe Ogberuru was told by a voodoo medical practitioner (JUJU MAN) that Mr. Francis was the person who kidnapped one Chief Kelvin Nwosu of Aboh Ihiteowerri in Orlu Local Government Area. The kidnap of Chief Kelvin Nwosu was alleged to have taken place on the 17th day of May, 2009, less than 24 hours before Mr. Francis was abducted. Our brief disclosed that Mr. Francis was immediately, after his abduction, paraded before the Igwe where he was interrogated and tortured ruthlessly. He was later handed over to some members of the State Security Services believed to be the Igwe's Special accomplices with the instruction that they should 'waste' him. In return for a job well done, each of the members of the unscrupulous vigilante group were rewarded with the sum of N100,000.00.
On the 21st day of May, 2009 while Mr. Francis was still in detention, our client learnt the fact that Chief Kelvin Nwosu who was allegedly kidnapped was released after the payment of ransom in the sum of N1,000,000 to his kidnappers. One may be compelled to ask who was this ransom paid to and who released Chief Kelvin Nwosu? The SSS have refused to answer this question.
Mr. Nicodemus Umeh, the head of the family, approached the SSS office in Owerri to see his son, Mr. Francis, but he was denied access. Our client has made several attempts to reach Mr. Francis to no avail. However an officer of the SSS later informed our client that Mr. Francis has since been transferred to the SSS Headquarters in Abuja.
Glad that a step may have be taken towards unraveling the truth of the matter, by reason of the transfer of the case to Abuja, our client approached us to inquire of the real allegation against Mr. Francis and to possibly confirm whether he is still alive.
Mr. Francis has been in the custody of the SSS for over one month without anybody, including his counsel being allowed any access to him.
Our lawyers approached the SSS headquarters in Abuja on the 23rd day of June 2009 as instructed but the SSS officers at the reception refused to allow the lawyers see Mr Francis.
We are deeply horrified by the ruthless act of lawlessness perpetrated against our client as enunciated above. We are particularly petrified by reckless abuse of power by men and officers under your authority and instruction, but we are however determined to invoke and utilize every legal remedy available at our client's disposal to see that justice is done.
The role played by the men and officers under your leadership does not only depict a blatant disregard for the constitutional rights of Mr. Francis and the tenets of any civilized society, but clearly shows a despicable affront to the clamor for the enthronement of the rule of law championed by the current government.
Consequent upon the foregoing, we demand for the immediate release of Mr. Francis Chinonso Umeh from your inordinate custody, dead or alive.
We trust you will act without further delay.
For: Festus Keyamo Chambers
ALEXANDER OKETA, ESQ. OGHENOVO O.OTEMU, ESQ.
The Honourable Attorney-General
Of the Federation and Minister of Justice,
Federal Ministry of Justice,
The Director of Public Prosecution,
Federal Ministry of Justice,