George Gabriel, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, has narrated how he and his colleague were brutalised after being falsely accused of stealing a neighbour’s phone in Okija, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State.
In a series of tweets, Gabriel said the incident happened on April 27, a day before his passing out as a 2021 batch A stream II corps member.
“My fellow corps members and I were falsely accused of being suspected to have stolen our neighbour’s phone at night, in a house we have been living in for the past one year. All these happened just a day before my POP,” Gabriel wrote.
“The said neighbour, Mr Chukwujekwu Chukuweze, was the last to sleep in the house that night, as he claimed he slept by 3am. We all went to bed before 12 midnight and the man (Chukwueze) was in the passage praying for a stranger. He actually calls himself a Dibia (native priest).
“Very few minutes past 3am after the man (Mr Chukwujekwu Chukuweze) claimed to have slept and locked both passage doors, my colleague came out to ease himself and saw the door opened(definitely opened from inside) and the man’s purses were littered at the back of the house. My colleague felt they were probably dumped by the owner and he went back to sleep.
“The next morning, we woke up to the news that someone entered into the man’s room and took his business phones(an android Infinix/Tecno phone), the ones he uses to communicate with clients. He had an iPhone X all on the same spot, but it wasn’t taken despite being more expensive. This is a house where there is always power supply at night and no one could even dare enter his room (to show it was a clear set up).”
Gabriel said Chukwueze would later invite other native priests and thugs to intimidate him and his friend.
“He left the house shortly after, and later came back home with fellow Dibias (native priests) and many touts and thugs. Then claimed to have consulted spiritually and found it was stolen by a male,” Gabriel said.
Chuwkwueze and the thugs would subsequently seize phones belonging to all the corps members living in the house. They would also take their money, search through their bags and torture all of them.
“They flogged us mercilessly without evidence, used matchetes and wipes to flog us brutally without mercy. My colleagues were tied up like animals and made to hang in the air, for what we knew nothing about. All of these torture and torment lasted from 9am in the morning to 4pm in the evening,” Gabirel said.
“Nonstop unjust torture for hours. We have cutlass wounds all over our bodies.”
The six corps members were eventually saved from being lynched by the principal from their Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) who negotiated their release from an initial price of N700,000 to N350,000.
When FIJ was eventually able to speak to Gabriel, he said the experience was one he would never forget in his life.
“All thanks to a lady, a fellow corps member who had just returned from a journey. She was the one that quickly called our LGI and the Principal when she saw what was going on,” he stated.
“Having experienced so much trauma and pain, I left the state the second day, after I was able to do my clearance and obtain my certificate.
“Chukwueze is still walking about as a free man in Ihiala after subjecting me and other corp members to torture over what we know nothing about. I personally lost more than N100,000 during the time we were being tortured. I want justice.”
Gabriel told FIJ he believes the phone theft allegation made by Chuwueze was simply part of a plan aimed at extorting him and his colleagues.