N’Delta Minister in murder mess

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  • He killed my husband – Widow
  • It’s sheer blackmail – Minister’s aide
  • Family urges Buhari to ensure justice

The widow of a deceased Senior Court Registrar in the Cross River State Judiciary has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to prosecute the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, who she accused of complicity in the murder of her husband.

Uba Group

The widow, Mrs Jenny Iwara Osuaya, who urged the President to “investigate the antecedents of prospective and serving political office holders in order to ascertain their worthiness for leadership”, said the minister had, so far, been able to circumvent justice with regard to the murder of her husband, the late Chief Iwara Osuaya.

Lamenting the failure of institutions to prosecute highly placed criminals, the widow claimed that the minister had continued to use his wealth and influence to suppress police investigation.

“Usani was the Commissioner for Agriculture under Colonel Farouk Ahmed, who was Military Administrator of Cross River State at the time,” she said, adding that betrayal, bribery and deployment of political influence had continued to frustrate efforts made to bring him to justice.

Recalling the relationship between the late Osuaya and the minister, the widow said, “The greatest betrayal I have come to know is in friendship. Apart from the fact that they hail from the same local government area of Yakurr, Cross River State, the two were intimate friends. They were friends, who even started an association, which they called ‘Committee of Friends.’”

According to the widow, the Committee of Friends later metamorphosed into a viable political association that declared its support for the now defunct National Republican Convention.

The friendship and political association between the two, she said, was deepened when the late Osuaya sponsored the quest for the political emergence of Usani by insisting that he should be a commissioner.

This, she said, led to the appointment of the now minister, as the Cross River State Commissioner for Agriculture at the time.

“Because my husband did so much to pave the way for his friend’s victory, he was rewarded with a contract award to grade the Ikori – Asiga road for a total sum of N800,000,” the widow said, adding quickly that N800,000 was a large sum of money in 1996.

Narrating the circumstances, which she said led to the murder of her husband, Mrs. Osuaya said, “In 1996, Usani betrayed his friend and political associate, Iwara Osuaya, and thereafter murdered him, and has continued to use money and influence to suppress efforts made to bring him to justice.” She alleged also that the minister enjoyed the protection of his principal, who was the military administrator of the
state at the time.

Investigations by The Point showed that Osuaya’s widow, through a lawyer, had pproached the Oputa Panel to get justice. The lawyer, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the matter in question, said verifiable facts indicted Usani, adding that any responsible government should reopen the
President Buhari case for investigation to ascertain the validity or otherwise of the
allegation, no matter how highly placed the accused might be.

It was gathered from documents made available to our correspondent that the preliminary investigation report of the matter indicted the minister and some others, but they were not prosecuted. Findings by The Point further showed that Page 136 of the Oputa Panel Report, which contains the panel’s recommendation on the petition number 673, filed by Osuaya’s widow, reads: “The assailants were arrested by the police. Mr. Usani, who was a member of the Cross Rivers State Executive Council used his influence to suppress investigation into the matter.

The Preliminary investigation report of the matter indicted Mr. Usani and others but
the police did not prosecute them. The preliminary report was admitted in evidence as Exhibit 2.” Consequently, the widow said, the Panel ordered the Inspector- General of Police to constitute another panel to conduct fresh investigations into the matter, adding that, till date, the issue was not revisited.
According to Prince Paul Obi, a member of the Cross River State All Progressives Congress Elders Forum, who spoke to The Point as a sympathiser with the Osuayas, “it is a misnomer to allow a questionable character, who has been found wanting by such an August panel to be appointed to the office of minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” Findings further showed that a court injunction had continued to prevent the panel’s report from being made public.

The injunction, which restrains the IGP from reinvestigating the murder of Osuaya, was granted in view of General Ibrahim Babangida’s legal action against the legality of the Oputa Panel in which the former president argued that the panel was unconstitutional.
The court injunction granted in respect of General Babangida’s suit prayers was naturally extended to the entire report and recommendation of the panel. As a result, Osuaya’s widow could not pursue the legal cost of the murder of her husband. The widow is emphatic that “the police had clear evidence of how Usani murdered Osuaya but failed to prosecute him.” Prince Obi, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Abuja, said he was bounded by sheer patriotism to expose criminal characters in government, who were p a – r a d i n g  t h e m s e l v e s as statesmen in order to amass more influence for the purpose of shielding themselves from law
and justice.
“President Buhari enjoys the confidence of Nigerians but he stands the risk of losing it, as did Jonathan, if he makes the mistake of appointing escaping criminals to pristine offices,” he argued.

“The court was not allowed to sit for Usani’s trial as soldiers were sent to frustrate prospective court sittings. There was flagrant abuse of power,” he said, adding that the case of murder committed on Friday 17 May 1996 had been denied completion in the
court of law. Osuaya’s widow said, “Usani, who was then Commissioner for Agriculture, promised to make my late husband the Chairman of the Yakurr Local Government Area, where they both hailed from. It was in anticipation of the fulfillment of the promise that my husband used government funds in his care to finance Usani’s political
campaign.
“Upon being betrayed and, having lost the hope of repayment and compensation, Osuaya was frustrated because he had used government funds in his care to finance his friend’s political pursuits.” Narrowing down on the circumstances that indicted the serving minister, the widow said, “Because my husband put a lot of pressure on him to give him funds to execute the contract, he fixed a new date – May 17, 1996. So, in the morning of that day, my husband told me that he was going to the commissioner’s house in the commissioners’ quarters in Calabar to 11 Plugin Update demand for the funds.
“My husband never returned home. After a week, investigation and search led to the discovery of his decomposed remains, which was buried in a shallow grave in a layout belonging to the University of Calabar.” According to the widow, fresh facts soon emerged that showed that it was his bosom friend, who was responsible for his murder.
She claimed, “Among the facts is the confession made by the suspect’s thug, who actually murdered him. The thug directed the search team to the place where,
on the commissioner’s orders, the remains of Chief Iwara was dumped. “As at the time of this discovery, my husband’s corpse was already decomposing. The policeman stationed in the commissioner’s house also buttressed nthe confession, saying that he drove the corpse in a white bus to the bank of a river where it was thrown away.

The murderers intended to throw it into the river but the waters had greatly reduced, so they threw it into the bush by the river.” She said, “Another witness, who confessed was a native doctor, called “Iteng Doctor,” but added that “the three witnesses also died under mysterious circumstances after confessing.” Mrs. Osuaya, however, claimed
that when investigations were ongoing, “Usani admitted that it was true my husband came to his house, but that he had poisoned himself in his house. I then asked him, if it was true that he poisoned himself in your house, why did you have to bury him without
informing the family?” She revealed that the police had actually arrested Usani but that he used his clout as commissioner to suppress police investigations, especially since she claimed he had the backing of the then government. “My prayer is that the man who murdered my husband should be brought to book; he should be prosecuted,” the widow demanded.

After several attempts to speak to the minister at the Niger Delta ministry failed on Tuesday, our correspondent contacted his Special Assistant, Mr. Ofem Bassey. Bassey, at first, said nothing like that ever happened but later indicated that there was a case like that, which had gone to the Oputa Panel. “All I’m asking for is justice. I’ve lost three children. We have no decent house as we are still living in the uncompleted building, which my late husband left behind,” the widow declared.