You will recall that the Pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest Development and Litigation, NBA-SPIDEL, had promised to submit an official report on his visit to the Awka Correctional Facility to the President of the NBA, the Eastern Bar Forum and Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe intimating them of his findings and progress so far in the case of Emmanuel Orji which was reported by the Distinguished Senator at the Eastern Bar Forum meeting held on the 24th July, 2021 at the Hon. Justice A.I Umezulike Auditorium, Enugu State.
The report submitted by Gadzama, SAN was sighted by our correspondent. This is a fulfillment of the promise the Learned Silk made in that regard.
Gadzama, SAN in the company of some lawyers from his firm as well as C.I. Meze (the counsel that has been handling the matter) and Mr Ken Nwanna, the Chairman of the NBA Awka branch visited the Awka Correctional Center on August 5, 2021.
At the Correctional Centre, the team were received by Maria Kwazu, the Welfare Officer, who ushered them to the office of the Officer–in-Charge, DSP Harry Okonkwo.
The team was informed that, although there was an Emmanuel Orji, but contrary to reports, he was neither born in the Correctional Centre nor was he a son of Onyekachi Orji. As a matter of fact, he is close to 40 years and was about 25 years when he was remanded 15 years ago.
The correct information was that although Mrs. Onyekachi Orji, who was already pregnant as at the time of her remand, had given birth while in custody, she gave birth to a girl who was not in any Correctional Centre, but living with her father, Innocent Orji in the village.
The said Onyekachi Orji was arraigned in two different courts:
- Charge No HN/2/2011 between the State v Innocent Orji (General) & 16 Ors, coram Honourable Justice Ike Ogu, before the Anambra State High Court, sitting at Awka.
- Charge No FHC/AWK/7C/2009 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria v Chidinma Orji & 15 Ors before the Federal High Court, coram Honourable Justice Oweibo.
While all the Defendants (save Innocent Orji) in the former case (bordering on murder and kidnapping) were acquitted, in the judgment of July 31, 2017, judgment in the latter case (bordering on treason) has been fixed for October 20, 2021, following the adoption of final written addresses by Counsel on July 22, 2021. Innocent Orji has since served out his 10 year term and is now the one taking care of their daughter.
Gadzama, SAN also commended Mr C.I. Meze who has been handling the matter for over 15 years now, at no cost to the Defendants. He equally thanked the Distinguished Senator, the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association as well as the Eastern Bar Forum for giving him such an opportunity to serve.