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'Sack The Murderer In Your Cabinet' Group Tell Ohakim

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A group, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has called on Governor Ikedi Ohakim to rid his cabinet of men of questionable character with particular reference to one Chief Jasper Ndubuaku, a Special Adviser to the governor, whom the group said has  a murder charge dangling down his neck.  

  NOPRIN is seriously concerned that for the past three years, the Ekwedim Community, in Amauzari, Isiala Mbano council area of Imo State has been seeking justice for the murder of one of their members, late Mr. Augustine Igbokwe and the attempted murder of another member of the community, Mr. Chinedu Ngumas. Police report  from the Legal Department of the  Force Headquarters, Abuja indicted the suspects, Mr. Jasper Ndubuaku and his brother, Richard Azubuike Ndubuaku, and recommended their immediate arrest and arraignment in court for murder and attempted murder.

  The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP),  Ministry of Justice , Imo State has, over one year after he received the police report, also advised the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aloysius Okorie, to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators for the offences of murder and attempted murder. But surprisingly, the  Attorney General  and Commissioner for Justice, Imo State :   Barrister Ken Njemanze (SAN), has kept the case file for the past four months ostensibly, 'for his vetting'.

  NOPRIN also faults the prosecution procedure adopted by the Imo state Attorney General's office saying, 'The procedure followed so far in handling this case is flawed, and this we suspect is deliberate, and aimed at frustrating the prosecution of the perpetrators- thereby, perverting justice-  because of the perpetrators' connection to the seat of power in Imo State', the group said.  

  According to NOPRIN, the police are required, under the Imo State Criminal Procedure Law and criminal code to file the appropriate charges of murder and attempted murder against the two suspects to the magistrate court, which would accordingly remand them in prison custody while the case file is transmitted to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for legal advice.  

  The group also condemns the failure by the Imo State Police Command  to prosecute the perpetrators, Mr. Jasper Ndubuaku and his brother Richard Ndubuaku, for the murder of Mr. Augustine Igbokwe, and the attempted murder of Chinedu Ngumas, respectively. NOPRIN also urged Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aloysius Okorie, not to delay any further in ordering the arrest and arraignment of Mr. Jasper Ndubuaku and Mr. Richard Azubuike Ndubuaku in court for murder and attempted murder, respectively, in accordance with the Imo State Criminal Procedure Law, and criminal code.  

  They called on the Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, to remove Mr. Jasper Ndubuaku from office as his Special Adviser, if he is not to be seen as harbouring and shielding a murderer in his cabinet. His continued stay in office will continue to influence the proper handling of the cases of murder and attempted murder.  

  NOPRIN also urged the DPP and the Attorney General, Imo State to ensure that political considerations do not interfere in their professional duties of giving legal advice.  

  'The era of impunity must stop and the rule of law must always prevail.  Ekwedim community and the families of the victims are entitled to justice for the killing of late Mr. Augustine Igbokwe and attempted killing of Chinedu Ngumas', the group stressed.  

  It would be recalled that on 14 April 2007, following long-standing community-related dispute, Mr. Jasper Ndubuaku was engaged in an argument with late Mr. Augustine Igbokwe along Okpo-Ohuru road, Umuakum, Isiala Mbano LGA, Imo state during the community's palm fruit harvest festival. Eye witnesses testified that Jasper Ndubuaku pulled out a gun and shot Mr. Igbokwe point blank and he fell and died on the spot. Mr. Chinedu Ngumas rushed to carry Augustine Igbokwe when he fell down, and Mr. Richard Azubuike Ndubuaku, a younger brother to Jasper who was with him at the time, pulled his own gun and shot Mr. Ngumas on the chest and abdomen. He was later taken to a hospital and he survived the injury.

  The matter was reported to the police but Messrs Jasper and Richard Ndubuaku had not been arrested and prosecuted. Jasper Ndubuaku is currently the Special Adviser to the Imo State Governor on Inter-Governmental Affairs. The police reportedly completed its investigation and forwarded the file to the Attorney General for legal advice, a procedure that is not known to Imo State Criminal Procedure law. Ordinarily under the law, the police should charge the suspects to the magistrate court, and the court would then order the case file to be sent to the Attorney General (AG) for legal advice. However, the AG has not responded to request for legal advice to the police, or filed the necessary information before the appropriate court. When the suspects were briefly arrested, the AG on March 10, 2010 wrote to the police through the Solicitor General of Imo State ordering the stoppage of arraignment of the suspects pending further instruction. The community had petitioned to the Imo State Police command; the Imo State Governor; the AIG Zone 9 Umuahia and the Inspector General of Police, all to no avail.