Nwafor, Emmanuels and the still missing Chijoke

By Nehru Odeh

It has been eight years of misery, agony and mental torture. It has been eight years of searching for a brother but not finding a clue as to his whereabouts. It has been eight years of sinking in the miasma of uncertainty and fear, of whether her brother has been killed extra-judicially by SARS or still in their detention. But justice seems to be in the offing, though her brother’s whereabouts still remains unknown.

This is Iloanya Blessing Queen Obianuju’s story. This is the story of the lady known as Kween Obianuju Emmanuels on Facebook but who has been grieving the loss of her brother, Chijioke for eight years.  Chijioke’s whereabouts remains unknown after he was arrested by men of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Anambra State eight years ago.

However, Obianuju is over the moon now after her campaign to find justice for him in the wake of the ongoing #EndSARS protest has led not just to the sack of James Nwafor, the Senior Special Assistant on security to the Anambra State government but also his probable prosecution if found guilty.

Nwafor was the Officer Commanding SARS in Anambra State when Chijioke was picked up and taken to SARS Awkuku, where he held sway. Eight years after her brother was arrested by SARS on trumped-up charges, their whereabouts remains unknown despite several attempts of her family to locate him and find out whether he is alive or has been killed extra-judicially.

Still, the saddest part of his mysterious disappearance is that all attempts of her family to locate him was either met with a cold rebuff from Nwafor, that the brother had been killed and there was nothing anybody could do about it or a blatant denial that he arrested him, even when every evidence points to the fact that he was arrested and was seen in the custody of SARS.

However, in the wake of the #EndSARS protest that is currently rocking the country, Obianuju, who is based in Abuja, took it upon herself to seek justice for her brother. Not only did she take to the streets alongside other protesters in Abuja on a daily basis, carrying placards and demanding an end to SARS and justice for his brother and others who had been killed extra-judicially by SARS, she also took to several social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter to call out the former Officer Commanding (OC} SARS, James Nwafor, who was notorious for “butchering” young men while he was in rge of SARS in Anambra State.

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Obianuju said in one of her posts on Facebook: “And people ask why I march? People say “it’s okay, rest”. Rest for what? #WhereIsChijioke? #WhereIsAndrew? Where are they resting? Where are they? Nigeria has done us great injustice and until that is corrected, I will march. I will march until I can’t, then I will walk, and if I can’t walk anymore, I will crawl. I will scream to the rooftops, I will defy anyone and everyone till I see justice done. I will.”

In another post she said: “Mr James Nwafor was the OC of SARS Awkuzu during the period when over 40 dead bodies from SARS Awkuzu were thrown into the oji river at the boundary of Enugu and Anambra State. This man’s act had my father swimming in the river to see if he can identify my brother, he didn’t find his body amongst those that were dumped there. During his time at SARS Awkuzu, the station was known as an abattoir for human and it was well known that Human parts can be bought at any point there.”

Intriguing? Wait for this.  Even before the start of the #EndSARS protest,  Obianuju had narrated in graphic details how her brother was arrested, his disappearance till date and the mental torture her family had gone through for the past eight years on Facebook on 9 July 2020. She started narrating her story by describing Nwafor as a “blood thirsty murderer.”

“The man you see on this post is a bloodthirsty murderer. But before I explain further, some introduction.

“His name is James Nwafor, he was a police officer. His highest rank before retirement was ASP. Currently he’s SSA to the Anambra State government on Security, he’s from Ebonyi State, a father, grandfather, uncle, brother.

“My family’s path collided with him in November 2012, when my brother was arrested at Ajali, my family went to the police station at Ajali and they said SARS Awkuzu had taken the arrested boys. So my parents went to SARS Awkuzu, this man blatantly denied ever making any arrest or transfers and assured my dad that the boy wasn’t in their custody but as fate may have it, as my parents were leaving the station, they saw my brother and other boys handcuffed together and being led in. My mum screamed and pointed at him, telling this man that that was her son. He ordered that my parents be pushed out that day. The next day, my parents went back and this man told them point-blank that he had killed my brother and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. My mum collapsed immediately and had to be taken to the hospital.

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“However, lots of people including some SARS officers said that he was bluffing and wanted us to bring money. So we brought money, yet he refused to budge, we sold lands and took money in bags yet he didn’t budge. We then went to the commissioner of police Anambra state as at then, Mr Bala Nasarawa, he called Mr James and he claimed they had shootout with armed robbers and probably my brother was one of them, my parents told him they saw the boy at the station and then James, again, denied ever arresting the boy. Then Mr Bala Nasarawa looked my parents in the eye and told them that there’s nothing further he could do since Mr James had denied ever arresting or detaining the boy (apparently my parents can’t identify their own son or they are blind) and that his (Bala Nasarawa) hands were tied.

“So we went to human rights, of course they took the money and promised heaven and earth and yet, nothing happened, we didn’t get my brother. See eh, the challenge however is that people who made it out of the station as at early 2013 said my brother was still there. They came to my father and told him to make more offers and he did but still no show.

“However, I’m calling on everyone to ask James Nwafor to kindly explain what happened to my brother, where is he? For those who would ask why are you speaking now, mind you that I have been asking this same question on twitter, where I could tag police handles. This man is a known murderer and he doesn’t hide it, many people will doubt me but please don’t take my word for it, read about him,” she maintained.

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However, Obianuju’s outcry and call for justice  for his brother Chijioke has paid off, as the Anambra State Governor, Mr Willy Obiano has, as a result of her campaign, not only terminated Nwafor’s appointment as Senior Special Assistant on security to the Ananbra State government but also said he would face prosecution.

The governor made this known while addressing youths protesting against police brutality in the state.  “James Nwafor, former OC SARS in Anambra State is sacked and will be prosecuted,” Obiano said.

In a statement, the Commissioner for Information in Anambra State, Don Adinuba, said the governor had decided to set up a panel of inquiry to probe the activities of SARS in the state particularly Nwafor.

“The governor noted with dismay reports of inhuman treatment to the youth by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, and consequently lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for disbanding SARS in accordance with the wishes of Nigerian youths and also for acceding to their four requests for a better police force”.

“To create a more humane social order in Anambra State, Governor Obiano has decided to set up a broad-based panel to look into reports of abuse of human rights by the defunct SARS in the state over the years headed by The Hon Justice V. N, Umeh, (retired)”, the statement said.

“The panel will look, in particular, into allegations of extrajudicial killings by a former head of the SARS office in the state, Chief Superintendent of Police James Nwafor (retired), whose appointment as a Special Assistant to the Governor has since been terminated. He will face prosecution if found guilty of any of the alleged offences.”

The statement also said the governor had directed the Commissioner of Police to review all detentions in SARS facilities in the state and all police formations to ensure that the freedoms and fundamental human rights of the citizens are upheld at all times.