This Day (Lagos)

17 June 2012

Nigeria: Army Flayed for Disobeying Court Order

Umuahia — The royal family and people of Ngwaukwu Kingdom in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abi a State have appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to prevail on the Nigerian Army in Abia State to free two princes of the kingdom in their custody since over two months or obey a court order to produce them in court.

The call was made on Friday when the people gathered at the palace of their monarch, Eze Bernard Enweremadu, the Eze Ukwu of Ngwa Ukwu, to deliberate on "the unlawful, abrasive invasion, desecration of Ngwaukwu Kingdom and murder of our royal prince." They alleged that soldiers from the 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army based at Ohafia were responsible for the act.

Scores of soldiers were said to have invaded Eze Enweremadu's palace about midnight on April 7 based on a petition from a rival family of Anaba following a free-for-all among boys from the two families earlier in the day.

After the midnight palace raid by the soldiers, Prince Mustard Enweremadu, 25, was declared missing while Prince Destiny Enweremadu, 28, was picked up by the soldiers when they returned to the palace the next day. There was strong suspicion at Ngwaukwu that Mustard might have been shot dead, as palace residents said they heard gun shots at the back of the palace that fateful night when the young man was sent to go and report the invasion to a nearby police station.

"We have been mourning. We have been crying and nobody appears to be hearing us," the chairman of Ngwaukwu executive council, Chief Emmanuel Orji, said while addressing the gathering. He noted that soldiers had violated the sanctity of the palace of Ngwaukwu Kingdom.

Addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting of Ngwaukwu Kingdom, the palace secretary, Chief Innocent Ubani, said, "The Army has sadly and unfortunately submitted itself for a ridiculous use by some disgruntled politicians in a matter that is clearly a civil one."

He said for over two months after the ugly incident the army command at 14 Brigade, Ohafia, had been making "many contradictory statements" on the palace raid and the whereabouts of the two princes in their custody. According to him, the latest claim by the Army was that the two boys were arrested for suspected armed robbery and kidnapping. "Yet they've neither handed them over to the police nor brought them to court for trial and punishment if found guilty."

The palace secretary, who read a statement issued by the Ngwaukwu executive council, however, pointed out that they appreciated the fact that the palace of their monarch "is certainly not immune to the laws of the land, including availability for proper, legitimate and appropriate investigation procedure when necessary."

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