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Agbasimalo: Witness Reveals How Abductors Perfected Their Plot

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By Chuks Eke*

Ebere Okeke, Women Leader of the Oga-Ndi-Oga Solidarity Movement, has told an Ihiala High Court sitting in Nnewi how the two suspects – Chukwudi Odimegwu and Maxwell Nwokolo – allegedly played roles in the kidnapping of Obiorah Agbasimalo, the Labour Party’s governorship candidate in Anambra State’s 2021 governorship election.
Agbasimalo was abducted on September 18, 2021, at Lilu in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, while returning from a ceremony at Azia and his whereabouts are yet unknown till date.
In Suit No.HIH/15C/22, the accused, Chukwudi Odimegwu and Nwokolo Maxwell, are on trial for the alleged conspiracy and kidnapping of Agbasimalo on September 18, 2021, in Lilu, Ihiala Local Government Area, Anambra State.
The Department of State Services, DSS was the first to arraign the accused persons before a Magistrate court sitting at Awka, the state capital in 2022 in Charge No. MAW/506/2022 on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
After their charge was read, the court consequently remanded them in the prison custody without taking their plea.
According to the charge read by the DSS in court, the accused persons had on September 18, 2021, at Lilu in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, attacked and caused the disappearance of the victim Obiorah Agbasimalo, a Labour Party, LP governorship aspirant in the 2021 gubernatorial elections whose whereabout is yet unknown at present.
According to the prosecution, the offences violated Sections 495 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 36, Vol. II, Revised Laws of Anambra State of Nigeria, 1991, and 315 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the Criminal Code (Amended) Law of Anambra State of Nigeria, 2009.
The Magistrate court had while remanding them in the prison custody,  also ordered the police to transfer the case file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP for legal advice.
On receiving the case file, the DPP, in turn, came up with the same two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
In the charge prepared by N.J. Nwankwo Esq., the DPP alleged that while armed with guns and other offensive weapons, the accused persons kidnapped Obiorah Agbasimalo against his will and thereafter demanded a ransom of N1 million, N5 million and another N1 million totalling N7 million from his family for his release and yet after receiving the ransom, failed to release him till date.
But testifying before Justice C.N. Mbonu-Nwenyi, the Presiding Judge of the Ihiala High Court, sitting at Nnewi as Second Prosecution Witness, PW2, on Tuesday, Okeke recalled how the duo of Odimegwu and Nwokolo played some roles in the abduction saga.
Okeke who mounted the witness box at about 10:40 am, while testifying before the court, recalled that earlier on the fateful day, September 18, 2021, after the meeting of the Oga-Ndi-Oga Solidarity Movement, which is a campaign organ of Agbasimalo,  High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo, the elder brother of the abducted Labour Party candidate and sponsor of the campaign train, instructed the drivers and car owners to go to a particular petrol station and fuel their cars in preparation for the movements of the campaign train.
She said, “Soon after the instruction, the first defendant, Odimegwu dismissed the members who wanted to accompany the candidate to the campaign ground,  as directed by High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo and asked everyone to go home.
“When the first defendant, Odimegwu, was asked why he decided to dismiss members of the campaign organisation, he stated that the High Chief had chosen the people to participate in the campaign.
“Odimegwu’s decision to dismiss other campaign members, as well as his instruction to members to collect bags and political materials, was quite unusual because we usually do that after outings rather than before them.”
Okeke also stated that to ensure the success of the hatched abduction without leaving any trace, Odimegwu left for the ceremony with the candidate alone, without informing the members of their departure.
She also told the court that Odimegwu was giving some people directions via phone calls placed on his ear by one of their vehicle’s occupants, “Ebony,” while it was on a speak-out.
Okeke claimed that the defendant was directing the abductors until they reached Azia, at which point he stopped answering or picking up his phone.
The Woman Leader also testified that when they arrived, one Kosisochukwu Oyeudo, Chukwudi Odimegwu’s girlfriend, informed them that Chief Obiorah Agbasimalo had been kidnapped.
During cross-examination by B I. Nkememena, counsel for one of the defendants, Okeke stated that after the kidnapping of Obiorah Agbasimalo, the second defendant, Nwokolo called her on the phone and asked her to become his girlfriend while also warning her not to associate with Odimegwu, the first defendant, because he had queer characteristics.
Okeke stated, “But in my response, I told him, ‘I do not know you.'” He then sent his picture to my phone, warning me to avoid Chukwudi Odimegwu because he is a dangerous person.
“He also told me that Chukwudi Odimegwu was the person who kidnapped Agbasimalo and that I should not worry because once Oga-Ndi-Oga, the campaign sponsor, brings the money the kidnappers requested from him, he would be released because all they wanted was money from the sponsor, High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo. (Oga ndi, Oga).
“Nwokolo told me that he went to the camp where Agbasimalo was kept to give him his inhaler because he is an asthmatic patient. I was relieved to hear this and praise God because there were rumours at the time that Agbasimalo had been killed by his abductors inside the camp.
“Nwokolo claimed that some indigenes of Ezinifte, where High Chief Godwin Agbasimalo Oga-Ndi-Oga and his younger brother/LP candidate, Obiorah, are from, had a hand in his kidnapping saga and did not want him freed because he would expose them.

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UNICEF, Media Ink A Partnership Pact To Advance Children’s Rights Support

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Nigerian Guild of Editors, and the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

This partnership aims to leverage the media’s influential power to promote and protect children’s rights across the nation.

The collaboration will focus on advocacy and awareness campaigns, capacity building for journalists, shared research, recognition of impactful media contributions, and influencing policy to support children’s rights.

The MOU underscores a commitment from all parties to work collectively towards a society that upholds and advances the welfare of its youngest members.

“This partnership with the Nigerian Guild of Editors and DAME harnesses the media’s immense potential as an advocate for the welfare of children. Media not only informs public opinion but also influences those in power to enact changes that favour children’s rights.

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“By joining forces, we are setting a course to transform how children’s rights are reported and addressed in the media, ensuring every child’s rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.” Said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

The President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Eze Anaba, highlighted the role of media in societal change, saying, “Media has the profound capacity to shape perspectives and effect real change.

Through this MOU, we are pledging to uphold the integrity of journalism by focusing our collective expertise on sensitive and impactful reporting concerning children’s rights. We are committed to working together to build a robust framework that supports this cause.”

 

The Trustee of DAME, Lanre Idowu, emphasised the importance of excellence in journalism, “Recognition through awards plays a crucial role in elevating journalistic standards. By focusing on issues such as child rights, education, and health, we aim to spotlight and incentivise the media to cover stories that can lead to substantial social impact.”

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Nigerian Government Challenges Stakeholders On Strategies To Address Climate Change

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Flooding

The Federal Government has called on stakeholders in the nation’s environment sector to come up with adequate strategies to address hazards posed by climate change in the country.

The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr Mahmud Kambari made the call at a meeting of the technical committee on the review and update of the National Erosion and Flood Control Policy held in Abuja on Thursday.

He said the benefit of having the policy reviewed and updated for the nation is quite immense, he said it would assist in the reduction of loss and damages due to erosion and flooding.

He said: “The capacity of Government organs to respond to these concerns would be enhanced, I want to assure you that the Ministry reposes great confidence in this pool of experts to give the nation superlative results, it is, therefore, my pleasure to declare this Technical Committee meeting open and wish you fruitful deliberations.”

He revealed that: “The Federal Ministry of Environment in its bid to address the twin issues of erosion and flood developed the National Erosion and Flood Control Policy (NEFCOP) in 2005. The document was, approved by the Federal Executive Council and launched by President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

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The Director Erosion, Flood and Coastal Zone Management Department, Federal Ministry of Environment. Mr Etigbue Dilichukwu said the revisiting and mainstreaming relevant policies into Nigeria’s national adaptation plan is of utmost importance.

Dilichukwu noted that the potential benefits of having a comprehensive and up-to-date policy in this area are enormous, not only in reducing loss and damages but also in enhancing the country’s institutional framework and capacity to effectively respond to environmental concerns.

“On behalf of the Ministry, we extend our gratitude to our Partners and Collaborators for their unwavering support in tackling environmental challenges, with your continued collaboration as we strive to drive the implementation of a robust NEFCOP that will effectively address current and future challenges related to erosion and flooding.”

He however called for an open exchange of ideas and perspectives to work towards a stronger and more environmentally resilient Nigeria.

The National Project Coordinator ACreSAL, Mr Abdulhamid Umar said the project is working to permanently end the issues of flooding in Nigeria.
“Issues surrounding flood control and coastal challenges in this country are very, central to reasons why the World Bank hasn’t found it necessary, to intervene by making a very handsome amount delegated to the implementation of this project,” he said.
He further said that the Agencies of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project will support the implementation of all the policies that would be reached at the technical session.

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Umar said the government must ensure compliance and penalties for people who illegally destroyed structures and infrastructures that are supposed to help in controlling flood hazards.

The National Erosion and Flood Control Policy and its associated documents (National Erosion and Flood Control Action Plan and the Technical Guidelines) were developed by the Ministry of Environment, approved and adopted by both FEC and NEC in 2005. It would address the widespread hazards of erosion and flood which had led to devastating loss of lives, properties, productive agricultural lands, pollution of water resources and sedimentation of rivers.

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Gov Uzodimma Says His Government Is Committed To Peace, Urges Youths To Pursue Dreams Relentlessly

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Governor Hope Uzodimma has reiterated his government’s unwavering commitment to achieving peace, not just in Imo State but throughout Nigeria.

He stated that if our society is to progress, we must remain committed to peace and harmony.

The Governor met with the Ihube Peace Committee in his office on Tuesday to discuss restoring peace and harmony in Imo State and Nigeria.

Governor Uzodimma acknowledged Imo State’s setback as a result of insecurity in the Ihube area of Okigwe and promised ongoing collaboration with local leaders and stakeholders to achieve the desired peace and harmony.

He thanked the Ihube Peace Committee, led by the Emeritus Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Most Rev Dr Sunday Uche, for their visit and interest in the government’s efforts to achieve long-term peace and harmony in their area.

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Earlier, Rev Uche told the Governor that they, along with other well-meaning members of the public, were committed to ensuring peace in all parts of Imo State and Nigeria in order for sustainable development to thrive.

He thanked the Governor for providing quality leadership in Imo State and urged him to do everything in his power, including working with leaders and stakeholders, to ensure peace in Imo State and beyond.

In a related development, Governor Uzodimma has advised Imo State’s youths, and by extension the entire country, to pursue their dreams relentlessly and passionately.

The Governor gave the advice Monday night in his office at Government House Owerri, where he was joined by Miss Angel Obinwanne, an Imo State native and first runner-up at the recent Teen Queen Nigeria 2024 Pageant held in Sapele, Delta State.

Governor Uzodimma congratulated Miss Angel, a Food Science Technology student at Imo State University in Owerri, for having the courage to pursue her passion, and used the occasion to encourage young people in general to pursue their dreams relentlessly.

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Governor Uzodimma stated, “It brings me immense joy to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Miss Angel Obinwanne.”

on her remarkable achievement as the first Princess in the Teen Queen Nigeria 2024 Beauty Pageant. Your commitment and talent have truly shined through.

“My administration is still committed to developing the potential of every Imo citizen, and your victory is a testament to our collective efforts, with your triumph serving as an inspiration to fellow youths, reminding them to pursue their dreams relentlessly.

“I encourage you to keep blazing your path with passion and determination. Remember that with perseverance and resilience, you will undoubtedly reach greater heights. The State Government is fully behind you, ready to help you achieve excellence in all of your future endeavours.

“Congratulations once more.”

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Miss Angel, who was accompanied by her mother and aunty, thanked Governor Uzodimma for supporting her dream when she expressed an interest in participating in the contest.

She stated that she was delighted to return to the Governor with her heart full of gratitude for his encouragement and to reassure him of her determination to make Imo State proud whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmos Iwu, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, Commissioner-designate, Mbadiwe Emelumba, and others joined the Governor in receiving the beauty queen.

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