This past Easter, Iyke Ekpo and a group of his friends wined and dined at an Umuahia restaurant. They also cracked jokes and talked Abia politics. Iyke told his friends the simple, basic truth about Theodore Ahameful Orji’s administration: The governor and his son Chinedu are only robbing the state blind and are doing nothing whatsoever to ensure democratic dividends trickle down to the people of Abia.
Unbeknownst to Iyke, one of those sitting on the table with him was an informant to Governor Orji and his son. He was quick to report Iyke to his paymasters.
Iyke is an employe of the Umuahia General Post Office on Aba Road. Tuesday April 10, Iyke had gone to dispatch mails when he received phone calls from some people who identified themselves as members of the State Security Service. They had asked him to come meet with them somewhere in Umuhia so they could discuss an urgent tip they received from Abuja regarding criminals plotting to use the post office to ship out documents that would affect Nigeria’s national security. Iyke promised to meet them once his work load was lessened.
But these agents could hardly wait. They proceeded to Iyke’s office where they pretended to have come to mail out letters. As they were being attended to, Iyke drove in.
On sighting him, the agents hastily went to grab Iyke even before he could alight from the car. They tried forcing him into the boot of their car. As he struggled with them, the scene attracted the attention of passersby and those of his coworkers. These people came to Iyke’s aid. In the midst of the scuffle, he escaped and scurried into the post office for safety, locking the entrance door behind him. At this juncture, the agents resorted to beating to stupor all those who had come to the postal worker’s aid before breaking the entrance door into the post office and shattering its glass windows to force themselves into the building.
In the melee that ensued inside, one of the agents was beaten mercilessly while one of his colleagues who stood busy making calls and reporting events to the governor and his son, on seeing the dramatic turn of events called for back up when he realized he and his fellow agents of death were trapped in the premises of the post office because the gates had been locked.
Not long after the call, the Bakassi boys arrived. On seeing the locked gates, they climbed in through the fence. The post office called in the police, who on arrival, were able to calm frayed nerves, not before arresting Iyke alongside his colleagues who had helped him fend off the agents – Chigozie Okogbuo, one Harbour who works for the engineering department of the company, Jeremiah Obasi, the security man that locked the gates, as well as one of the company’s drivers who was two weeks away from his retirement. They were taken into police custody.
The matter all of a sudden took a ridiculously dramatic turn: Instead of releasing these men after a few hours, the police kept them and turned against the post office which had called in for their help. The five postal workers were were hurriedly charged at State High court 4 for plotting to kidnap the Governor Orji and his son Chinedu after failing in several attempts to frame them up.
Contacts started going on underground to effect the men’s release. The first lawyer the post office tried to retain refused to be of any service to them. The second one, a SAN, after collecting money to appear on behalf of the men feigned sick the next day in court. Sources say he was sternly warned by Chinedu to steer clear of the case. Therefore, fearing for his dear life, he tactically withdrew from it.
A judge refused to hear the matter until a more pliable judge was found who remanded the men in prison custody at Afara till May 3 when the case would come up for hearing.
Having spent eight days in detention, the men were released Wednesday, April 18, after a high level network of contacts went to plead with the governor and his son on their behalf. The charges of the case, which has now been referred to the AIG in charge of Zone 9 Area Command, have been reduced to assault and battery instead of the original kidnapping which was more serious and not bailable by law.
Chinedu Orji, also known as Ikuku Ochendo, is the lord of the ring in Abia State. Everyone in the state lives in fear of him and neither want to be in his bad books nor at the receiving end of his wrath. The men at Umuahia General Post Office are at least living witnesses to this fact.