By Evelyn Usman
December 9, 2013 will forever remain indelible in the memory of 54-year-old Jonathan Ogidi-Nwankwo, who returned to the country after 26 years stay in The Netherlands. This followed his abduction by some suspected policemen in an eatery around Lekki at gun point.
The Abia State indigene was said to have been driven to Maroko Police Station where he was stripped and thrown inside the cell.
He traced his ordeal to the misunderstanding between his wife, Nicoline Tresfon Ogidi-Nwankwo, who was invited from The Netherlands to work as head teacher in a school around Lekki, and the school’s proprietress. Trouble, according to him, started barely three months after his wife started working.
As at the time of her appointment, Nicoline was said to be pregnant. During the school’s summer holiday in August, she reportedly traveled to Umuahia, the native town of her husband, with her two older children.
While there, contractions started and was reportedly advised by her doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State to have a Caesarian operation due to prolonged diarrhoea caused by what doctors described as Salmonela bacteria obtained through unclean water.
After birth, the baby, as gathered, spent close to two months at the Intensive Care Unit, with doctors battling to save his life, before he was flown to The Netherlands where Sunday Vanguard was told he underwent two surgical operations.
Meanwhile back in Nigeria, the proprietress of the school, whose identity was given simply as Priscilla, reportedly terminated Nicoline’s appointment when she did not resume by September, an action the expatriate described as unjust and a breach of contract. She consequently sued the school.
A violent twist was reportedly introduced in the matter, following alleged threats on the the lives of Ogidi-Nwankwo and their lawyer, by the proprietress of the school,which led to his abduction.
Narrating his ordeal, Ogidi-Nwankwo said: “I had a phone call on December 8, 2013,where the caller introduced himself as a parent to one of the pupils at Priscilla’s school. He asked if he could see me regarding a project. I booked an appointment for the next day, at an eatery.
“But on that fateful day, the man came with two other men and, to my shock, they bundled me into a vehicle to an unknown destination. One of them introduced himself as a policeman attached to the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Unit, at the Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos. He gave his name as Inspector Reuben while the other said he was Inspector Abass.
“They drove me to Maroko Police Division and told the policeman at the counter to detain me. But the policeman insisted they go to the Divisional Police Officer first. The DPO then signed a document and told them to detain me, that it was an order from Abuja.
“Without being questioned, they forced me to write against my wife’s lawyer, Barrister Ajayi, whom they said they wanted to use me as a bait to trap. When I told them I wasn’t resident in this country and that I had not been in contact with Barrister Ajayi, they said they had been trying to trace the lawyer without luck but that since I was in town, he would show up.
Transferred to Abuja
“I slept on bare floor that Saturday night. At about 5.30am the next day, some men came and bundled me into a car. I don’t know how long they drove but they said their boss wanted to see me in Abuja, that I threatened to bomb a place. I tried to explain to them that I was not even in the country at the time in question but they would not listen.. After two days, I was made to understand that I was in Garki Police Station, Abuja. I was again thrown into a cell, where there were about 35 other persons.
“My phone was collected from me. It was only when they wanted me to call my wife’s lawyer to hands off the case, that they gave me the phone. I was not given water nor food and they refused me from reaching people I wanted to come and bail me. They attempted to force me to write a statement accepting that I knew the lawyer and that he had been writing threat letters to Priscilla and that I should condemn and deny that he was representing my wife. But I refused.
“They paid deaf ears to my plea to allow me go, that I was only in Nigeria to retrieve my son’s medical file which was urgently needed back in The Netherlands and that I had to go and sign for an operation he had to undergo.
“On the 13th day, they dumped me by the roadside, with a broken neck, when it became apparent that the lawyer was not coming. I had to beg for money with which I contacted my family on phone. If I had died, nobody would have known where I was” .
Drama in court
Undaunted by the threats, the Ogidi-Nwankwos went ahead with the court case. Barely had the case been heard last Friday at the National Industrial Court, Ikoyi and adjourned to May 26, than a mild drama unfolded. This followed an alleged foiled attempt to kidnap a legal practitioner, later discovered to be the counsel to Mrs Ogidi-Nwankwo, Ajayi, right inside the court premises.
He was said to have been trailed to the court premises by his alleged abductors. As he was about leaving the premises, one of the abductors approached him, consequent upon which an alarm was raised which led to his arrest. The alleged abductor identified himself as a policeman attached to the IGP Monitoring Unit.
Calling for an urgent investigation into the kidnap attempt, Ajayi, in a petition to the IGP, explained : “Today (last Friday), while we were having a court proceeding, where I illustrated how I have been monitored and my life in danger of imminent attack by some persons who have tried severally to kidnap me and Mr. Jonathan Ogidi-Nwankwo sometimes in December, 2013.
After my testimony to the court, the presiding judge, Justice Amadi, warned all parties to maintain peace. But immediately I got out of the courtroom, a policeman in mufti, by name Musa, whose identity card was recorded by court officials and witnessed by over 20 lawyers, accosted me and grabbed me while in my wig and gown and said he was instructed by the Inspector General of Police to arrest me without any invitation, warrant of arrest or court order.
I asked if he was aware of the pending suit at the Federal High Court restraining the Police from prying into the matter in suit number:- FHC/UCS/548/14, he said he did not care and attempted to bundle me away”…
When the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, was contacted to ascertain whether the policemen were attached to the IGP’s Monitoring Unit, he said it would be difficult for him to determine since he was not in Lagos State. But he promised to send the contact of the Commander in charge of the Unit to Sunday Vanguard