By SaharaReporters, New York
The attack on Chuma Nwofor, took place at about 10:00 am on the morning of Tuesday, the 15th day of April 2014. Chief Barrister Chuma Nwofor, a former deputy president of the Chambers of Commerce mines and agriculture. Witnesses say soldiers of the 302-brigade Onitsha brutalized Chuma Nwofor in an unprovoked attack. They are believed to have been under the influence of alcoholic beverages, and witnesses said, suspected to be on a mission to loot.
Chuma Nwofor, a former state chairman of the PDP in Anambra State, was also the former commissioner and special adviser for the environment, and was twice a Governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP.) This random attack from soldiers on Chuma Nwofor has shocked the local community.
Barrister Nwofor was reportedly driving to Asaba, after visiting his clients who had placed orders with his company for Nigeria breweries, the products to which he is a key distributor. Once arriving to the Upper Iweka road in Onitsha, which is under construction, and has only one lane, Chuma Nwofor got stuck in a traffic jam.
In the midst of this traffic jam an army pilot pickup truck was approaching with another private vehicle behind it. Barrister Nwofor on sighting them, and correctly in obeying traffic rules, had veered off the road to create room for the pilot pickup truck, and Honda car accompanying. Some minutes after they drove pass, a second army truck with no siren, or escort car, forced itself into the middle of the road, and had hit Barrister Nwofor’s car, and the car in front of Barrister Nwofor vehicle, a Mitsubishi Van.
The occupants of the Mitsubishi Van came out of their car, and confronted the army truck driver, and complained of reckless driving. While this was taking place, Barrister Nwafor also approached the truck driver, to also inform him of the damage he did to his car. The truck driver, witnesses say, was under the influence of alcohol, as the alcoholic odor was oozing out of his breath. Eyewitnesses who were there told SaharaReporters that one could literally smell the odor of alcohol on the driver, and coming out of his vehicle. The situation intensified, and the driver became angry over the questioning of what occurred. The more the struck drivers pressed their queries, the angrier the driver of the military vehicle became.
Then, without warning, the unidentified driver of the military vehicle, and four other soldiers who were passengers in the truck, all from the 302 brigade, immediately pounced on Barrister Nwafor, beating him up with iron rods from their vehicle, and witnesses say, also with the butts of their guns. It was a brutal scene, and some witnesses say, the drunken soldiers tore open his head with their blows. Blood was rushing profusely from Chuma Nwofor’s wounds. The soldiers carried him a short distance, held him up and slammed him down hard on the tarred road.
Barrister Nwofor, say witnesesses, then lost consciousness and the soldiers quickly made a move to collect all the items in Barrister Nwofor’s vehicle, including the money that his customers had paid him. The money allegedly stolen by the soldiers is the equivalent of over a hundred thousand dollars (N17,000,000).
Barrister Nwofor was lying unconscious on the road, and the soldiers, to the surprised of the startled witnesses, then carried him, and threw him inside their pickup van, and drove straight to their barracks. Once getting to their barracks, Barrister Nwofor regained consciousness sometime afterwards, much to the surprise of the soldiers.
A good Samaritan present, who later spoke to SaharaReporters on the condition of anonymity, had pleaded with the soldiers to let Barrister Nwofor go for treatment to a local hospital. He was still bleeding, but they bluntly refused the request, and kept Barrister Nwofor in the cell for an additional 3 hours.
The decision to hold Chuma Nwofor, it is believed, was a decision to ‘buy time,’ witnesses say, and enable the soldiers to cleanly cart away the money, and the items they removed from the vehicle. Sometime later, Barrister Nwofor then confronted the officers, including Captain GC Ohaeri, over who gave the instructions to continue holding him as prisoner. Chuma Nwofor was released shortly afterwards and allowed to leave and see a doctor, but the lead-up to his release was described as tense.
Captain GC Ohaeri discussed with the group of military men involved what to do next, and witnesses say, with guns pointed at Chuma Nwofor, they then marched him out of the barracks.
Chuma Nwofor had requested the names of the soldiers involved, but the captain refused to disclose their names, or identify what rank the men held.
According to several eyewitnesses outside the barracks where a small crowd had gathered, Chuma Nwofor was reportedly carried by by-standers to Onitsha General Hospital. It was there where he was taken to the emergency ward, and was examined by Dr. Okwusogu. It was there that the doctor recommended he go to the surgical department to determine the extent of damage from his wounds.
Chuma Nwofor had lost a lot of blood, and lost consciousness several times, according to witnesses. It is obvious, say motorists from the scene of the original confrontation, and others who had contacted SaharaReporters for this story, that this is a well-planned robbery, and an act of intimidation. Why remains unclear. Was it meant to achieve a goal of stealing from a prominent citizen? Speculation continues to fly in this case.
What is known in the hours since this story unfolded is that Chuma Nwofor has since contacted lawyers, one of them is barrister Sam Ologunorisha (SAN). The plan now is to take up the matter with the National Human Right Commission and to also sue for recovering of the stolen funds and damages.
The issue at stake for many watching this story unfold is why would the army allow a drunken officer to be on the road at that time of the morning armed with guns? Chuma Nwofor says he will be suing them for 500 miliion naira damages at the federal high court.