#MySARSStory: Standing Up To Power, Then Falling To It

Nnabuike Nnaji, who died a day after Valentine’s Day seven years in the past, was a local of the Ibagwa within the southeastern city of Nike in Enugu State. 

At 20, Nnabuike was dwelling an eventful life. He had completed his National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) programs on the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) in Enugu, the place he studied enterprise administration and was awaiting his call-up letter for the necessary National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. 

#MySARSStory: Standing Up To Power, Then Falling To It 2

He was each the secretary of his age grade and the secretary of the youth group in his church. He was additionally the Vice-Chairman of the youth of the Umuaneke Ode household, Ibagwa-Nike Autonomous Community.

Amid his many duties, he managed to pursue a lifetime of health. He was identified to train each morning, and afterwards, would comply with his father, 65-year-old Patrick Nnaji, to the farm, the place collectively they might until the bottom and sow seeds. All across the village, Nnabuike was often called an obedient and hardworking younger man with nice prospects.

However, Nnabuike’s village, Ibagwa, was and nonetheless is embroiled in a disaster. The village’s Igwe, Emmanuel Ugwu, had reportedly turn out to be a dictator, allegedly maltreating his individuals by seizing their lands and punishing anybody who refused. 

The Igwe shaped an area vigilante group referred to as The Royal Youths Vanguard, whose job, many declare, was to go after households and people who didn’t relinquish their declare to their lands. He opened an workplace for officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on the Ibagwa-Nike Town Hall, which he had constructed. The SARS officers, along with the Royal Youths Vanguard, allegedly served because the Igwe’s private mob military. Reports say the officers would break into individuals’s homes, convey them out and beat them up, after which lock them on the SARS workplace till they determined to do the Igwe’s bidding. 

Nnabuike and his household had been identified to be in opposition to the Igwe’s actions.

The disaster in Ibagwa at a degree prompted Nigerian politician Prince Cornelius Nnaji, who represents Enugu East on the Federal House of Representatives, to ask the Nigerian military into the village to take care of peace and order.

On February 15, 2014, throughout the conventional wedding ceremony of the daughter of one in all Nnabuike’s kin at Onugwu in Nike, Ndubuisi Ugwu, one of many Igwe’s henchmen, got here to the get together with two SARS officers. Ugwu pointed at Nnabuike and, instantly, one of many SARS officers shot him. Nnabuike died on the spot.

Nnabuike’s father, Patrick Nnaji, had been on the get together together with his spouse and different youngsters however had left early, leaving Nnabuike to mingle with different youths. Patrick Nnaji says his son’s loss of life affected his household’s psychological and bodily well being. 

After killing Nnabuike, Ndubuisi Ugwu and the SARS officers had tried to run away however had been apprehended by the troopers who had been on patrol and had heard the gunshot. They had been taken to 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and, from there, to the State Criminal Investigation Department (Enugu State Police Command).

In 2015, the trio was charged to the Federal High Court, Enugu. Six years on, Patrick Nnaji says no justice has been attained for his son. The Igwe, Emmanuel Ugwu, Patrick Nnaji alleges, has been ensuring the trio doesn’t go to jail. 

Alum Mbah, a cousin to the deceased in addition to a former sufferer of the Igwe’s intimidation, was devastated by the killing. 

“His death was really a huge shock to the entire family,” Mr Mbah says, “and others who feel that this kind of thing shouldn’t be happening in a country like ours and in this 21st century.” 

In response to the nationwide #ENDSARS protests in October 2020, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State inaugurated a panel that sought to look into instances of extrajudicial killings and police brutality. Nnabuike’s household submitted their case to the panel. And though they’re but to listen to from the state authorities following the tip of panel hearings, they’re hopeful that the panel’s resolution will assist in their struggle for justice. 

“He [Nnabuike] was a peace-loving guy,” Mr Mbah says. “The only crime he committed was the fact that he was standing up for the truth and telling the Igwe [Emmanuel Ugwu] that he had no right to sell people’s lands without seeking their consent.”

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#MySARSStory: Standing Up To Power, Then Falling To It

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