THE traditional ruler of Umueri in Anambra East local government area of Anambra State, Igwe Bennett Emeka and a senior member of his cabinet and an octogenarian, Sir Vincent Okoye are trading blames following allegations that Okoye defiled a 10 -year old girl in the community.
Okoye, 80 years old and a retired senior official of Tailor Woodrow, a British multinational Company, and a Knight of St John International, KSJI, of the Catholic Church, denied the allegation when the case came up at the Chief Magistrate Court sitting at Otuocha.
Despite his pleading not guilty to the charge, the community’s traditional ruler suspended Sir Okoye from the town’s Royal Cabinet where he is the financial secretary.
Insisting on his innocence, Okoye, amidst sobs, said the traditional ruler decided to destroy him because of his refusal to allow the Igwe sell his family land, as well as questioning alleged financial impropriety in the accounts of the Royal Cabinet in his capacity as the financial secretary.
Narrating his ordeal, Okoye said: “I am a member of Umueri Royal Cabinet and the financial secretary of the Cabinet. I retired from Tailor Woodrow after 25 years of meritorious service. I am a member of the Institute of Management Specialists, London, a pioneer member of Knight of St. John International, Ascension Commandry 573, Ibadan.
“I am also chairman Emeritus of the Peoples Club of Nigeria, Ibadan branch, former president, Umueri Lions Club, chairman, Umueri Recreation Club, Onitsha branch, and former President General of Umueri Town.
“I recently had two major surgical operations – Hyenia and Prostrate – at St. Charles Borromew Specialist Hospital, Onitsha and was discharged on 15th February, 2022.
“Throughout my life, I have never been involved in any crime. I have never gone to police station in respect of any crime and this evil and wicked allegation leveled against me by the Igwe and his group, was the first time in my life that I wrote a statement to the police and taken to court for a crime I did not commit.
“The Igwe’s statement where he was quoted as saying that I, an 80 year old man, committed this crime and does not deserve to be a member of his cabinet is very unfortunate. By saying so, the Igwe had passed judgment on me, condemned and declared me guilty in a case that is still in the court of law.
“His action is gross contempt of court. Again the decision of the Igwe to suspend me without calling me to hear my own side of the story is a gross violation of my fundamental human right as guaranteed by the constitution of Nigeria.
“From sequence of the events concerning the allegation that I defiled the said girl, it is obvious that the Igwe planned and executed the evil scheme in order to destroy me because of my refusal to sell my ancestral family land which he sent his foot soldiers to tell me earlier
“When I heard of this allegation, I felt very bad. I was depressed because the allegation was aimed at destroying my reputation, my character was terribly damaged.
“The organizations I belong were not feeling good about me. I belong to the Knight of St. John International which is a religious organization in the Catholic Church and for them to hear this kind of allegation against me is very devastating. Many people who heard of this allegation are questioning my integrity.
Wondering how a fragile 80 year old man could even dream of committing such offence, Okoye stated: “I returned from the hospital barely two months after two major operations of hyenia and prostrate and I have never seen the girl in question anywhere. I do not know the girl and here I am being accused of defiling the girl. In the statement which was the third I made at the police station, I stated that what they were accusing me of was a gang up against me, malicious and wicked. I told the police that I had no knowledge of what they were accusing me of.”
Reacting on Okoye’s statements, Igwe Bennett Emeka denied being responsible for what his former member of the royal cabinet was passing through.
The Monarch said:”I don’t know about arranging anything against anybody. Arrange his ordeal to achieve what? Please I don’t need to go into it.
“Anybody that has any problem that he created for himself should face it and not to call any other person. What is my business with him?”
On the allegation that he tried to force Okoye to allow him sell his family land at Agwe Nneyi, Igwe Emeka added: “I am not from Nneyi and I shouldn’t have had any dealings with Nneyi people. If there is anything, let him go and face his music”.