This is to alert the general public that the Imo State Judicial Service Commission is protecting an acclaimed Judicial Hatchet woman in the person of Mrs Victoria Isiguzo

It is a notorious fact that the judicial activities of this magistrate has sent so many innocent citizens of Imo state to unjust imprisonment of which this writer Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha is a victim Despite official complaints to the Imo State Judicial Service Commission concerning the Judicial hatchet activities of Mrs Victoria Isiguzo, the commission has intentionally refused to act .

The National Human Rights Commission has also formally written to the Imo state judicial service commission on the need to set up a disciplinary committee to investigate Mrs Isiguzo but till this moment the woman has been allowed to continue to preside over Magistrate Court one .Find attached letter of National Human Rights Commission .The NETWORK ON POLICE REFORM IN NIGERIA(NOPRIN)has equally called on the Imo State Chief Judge to investigate this same judicial hatchet Woman. But many months after, the woman is still presiding a Magistrate Court in Owerri .

This press release is to alert the general public that this plot to protect Mrs Victoria Isiguzo will never stand .The Chief Judge of Imo State is therefore most humbly requested to commence full investigation on this hatchet woman .The steps being taken to expose the activities of Imo State Judiciary will commence in full swing if Mrs Victoria Isiguzo is not shown the way out.

The time to discipline Chief magistrate Victoria Isiguzo is now.


Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha

(The conscience of Imo State )

Social Crusader and Facilitator

Letter to chief justice of the federation

July 27, 2010

National Judicial Council
Supreme Court Complex
Three Arms Zone,
Attention: Chief Justice of the Federation

Your Lordship,

Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) is a network of 46 civil society organizations spread across Nigeria, and committed to promoting police accountability and respect for human rights. It was established in 2000 to provide opportunity for civil society involvement in police reform, and the promotion of safety, security and justice in Nigeria. NOPRIN carries out its mandate through monitoring, field research and investigation, documentation, publication, campaign and advocacy. NOPRIN partners with national, international, governmental and intergovernmental organizations and institutions in implementing its programs aimed at transforming law enforcement institutions and practices in Nigeria.

NOPRIN writes to bring to your attention the case of the flagrant abuse of judicial power and process by Chief Magistrate Victoria Isiguzo, Presiding Magistrate, Magistrate Court 1, Owerri, Imo State. From NOPRIN’s investigation, it is very palpable that Chief Magistrate Isiguzo has compromised her position, and is acting out a script, designed to serve the selfish political interest of Governor Ikedi Ohakim. She has done this by using the instrumentality of the judiciary in Imo State to persecute Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s critics and political opponents.

NOPRIN has no confidence in the ability of the Imo State Judicial Service Committee to honestly and impartially investigate the conducts of Mrs. Isiguzo and to discipline her appropriately for her dishonourable conduct. This is the reason NOPRIN has resorted to petitioning the NJC through your good offices to investigate this case, especially as we have learnt that the names of the erring Chief magistrate and others of her ilk have been submitted to the NJC by Imo State Government for appointment as High Court Judges, to compensate her and others for their ignoble ‘hatchet man’ job.

The details are as follows:
1. On January 25, 2010 Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha was arraigned before the Magistrate Court 1 Owerri, Imo State presided over by Chief Magistrate Victoria C. Isiguzo, on a one count charge of criminal defamation, contrary to S. 375 of the Criminal Code Act.

2. The factual basis of the charge is that the accused person, who is the Coordinator of a Non Governmental Organisation known as “SLAP Initiative” (Safeguarding Leadership, Accountability and Productivity), has written and posted through the internet articles that raised issues of corruption by Imo state government and were indeed critical of Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim.

3. Before slamming the charge on the accused person, the governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who is yet to respond to serious corruption allegations raised in Samuelson’s several petitions to the IGP, PDP, Imo House of Assembly, EFCC, etc, had on January 21, 2010 used his security details to abduct Mr. Iwuoha from his residence at Ikenegbu Layout, Owerri, Imo State. He was taken to the Governor’s office, Owerri where the Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim is alleged to have personally assaulted and brutalized Mr. Iwuoha so mercilessly after which he handed him over to the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aloysius Okorie who detained him for five days (from January 21 to January 25) before arraigning him in Chief Magistrate Victoria Isiguzo’s court.

4. In spite of the detention of Mr. Iwuoha for five days, the wounds and lacerations on his body were still evident and corroborated his allegation that he was stripped naked, flogged mercilessly with a horse whip by the Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who also kicked and marched on Mr. Iwuoha with the assistance of his Chief Security Officer who is a serving Police Officer.

5. On January 25, 2010 when Mr. Iwuoha was arraigned in court, the presiding Chief Magistrate in charge of Magistrate Court 1, Mrs. Victoria Isiguzo remanded Mr. Iwuoha in prison custody till February 2, 2010 when she granted him bail in the sum of Five Hundred thousand Naira with one surety in the like sum with additional condition that the surety must own landed property in Owerri.

6. As your Lordship very well knows, the charge of criminal defamation under our Criminal Code carries a maximum sentence of two years upon conviction. The initial refusal of bail to the accused person, and the stringent conditions of bail, left no one in doubt that the Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Isiguzo was disposed to denying Samuelson justice which presents the possibility that Mrs. Isiguzo might be acting the script of the Imo State Government in the proceedings.

7. On the date of arraignment of Mr. Iwuoha, the Magistrate had turned down an application made by Counsel to the accused for the accused to pull off his shirt for the court to observe the bruises and wounds inflicted on him by Governor Ikedi Ohakim which have refused to heal. Such refusal by the Magistrate was surely to suppress that piece of evidence in favour of the complainant; the initial refusal of bail was also partly to give time to the wounds to heal so that the accused would not take photographs of the wound for public view.

8. On February 2, 2010 the court arbitrarily allowed the prosecution to substitute a spurious 8 counts charge all bothering on the same transaction of alleged offensive publication without giving the defense Counsel any hearing on the proposed amended charge.

9. To secure the cooperation of Chief Magistrate V. C. Isiguzo, the government of Ikedi Ohakim appointed her husband Chief Chibututu Isiguzo as a Special Adviser and posted him to the office of the Deputy Governor.

10. Prior to this latest appointment, the Magistrate’s husband has been a member of the Transition Council of Ezinihitte Local Government and later the Coordinator of Governor Ohakim’s New Face Organization being his political machine for his re-election bid. All these appointments were made by Governor Ikedi Ohakim.

11. To cap it all, the Magistrate in question is being rewarded with an appointment as a Judge of the Imo State High Court. Her name is presently with the N. J. C for such appointment.

12. With the same zeal to please who pays the piper, Mrs. Isiguzo had, like a Judicial Undertaker, assigned to herself cases involving notable opposition leaders and other journalist who write articles the governor considers offensive or critical. Some of these opponents of the governor whose cases are in her court include Dr. Alex Obi (Former State Chairman PDP); Hon. Dr. Emeka. S. Ukaegbu (former Member, Imo State House of Assembly and Secretary of the opposition Alliance Group); Mr. Maximus Ubah (Journalist and critic of the governor) who was also remanded in prison custody for one week before being subsequently granted bail on similar count of criminal defamation.

13. Maximus Uba’s arrest leading to his being arraigned and remanded in prison custody was in disobedience to a pending High Court Order specifically restraining Imo State Government and Police from further arresting him pending the determination of his fundamental human rights application at an Owerri High Court.

14. It is against the backdrop of the foregoing facts that the treatment meted out to Mr. Samuelson can now be appreciated. These facts, therefore, cannot be mere coincidence.

15. When Samuelson’s case came up on July 2, 2010 the State was yet to file its reply to an application by counsel to the accused person challenging the constitutional validity of the charge on the ground that it is an infraction of the Fundamental Right of the accused person to freedom of expression and the press as guaranteed under S. 39 of the 1999 constitution.

16. Counsel to the accused person had applied, inter alia, for a reference of that constitutional issue to the High Court for interpretation, in accordance with the provisions of section 295 (1) of the 1999 constitution. Unfortunately, Mr. Iwuoha had been ambushed by his traducers using Chief Magistrate Isiguzo as an instrument.

17. When the case was called up, Counsel for the parties announced their respective appearances. One C. N. Akobundu, a Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (another of Governor Ohakim’s willing tools), whose name has also been penciled down for appointment as a Judge, smuggled across a local Newspoint Newspaper Publication alleging that the accused had published or caused to be published a defamatory material in which the presiding Magistrate was described as Governor Ohakim’s hatchet woman.

18. As if to prove the author of the story right, the trial Magistrate bent down and started writing, thereafter the following question and answer session ensued between the Magistrate and Samuelson (the accused person).

Question: Did you grant any interview to any member of the press?

Answer: No Sir, I did not

Question: Did you give any material to members of the press for publication
Answer: No sir, I did not

19. At this juncture the Magistrate barked at him saying, “But your picture is here”, showing the Newspaper to the accused person.

20. Attempts by defence Counsel to intercede on behalf of the accused person were rebuffed by the Magistrate who refused to entertain any plea or argument from counsel. She finally wrote a sentence of 3 months against the accused person without option of fine and so pronounced.

21. More than seven days after the conviction and sentence without trial of Mr. Samuelson Iwuoha, and despite repeated demands by Samuelson’s counsel, the Magistrate withheld the record book thereby hindering efforts aimed at securing same for purpose of applying and securing bail pending Appeal.

22. It was reported that Mr. Akobundu, immediately after the sentence of Samuelson, withdrew his comment that Samuelson owns Newspoint newspaper, which Mrs. Isiguzo ignored.

23. The way and manner Mrs. Isiguzo speedily ended the trial and sentence, without any attempt on proof, suggests that such evidence might be the handiwork of those who are bent on suppressing justice – the Imo state Governor or his agents.

NOPRIN is seriously concerned about Samuelson’s safety in prison, going by the state’s malevolent disposition towards him, and considering the alarm he has raised about attempts to poison him in prison. NOPRIN has called on the Owerri Prisons authorities to take special measures to guarantee Samuelson’s safety in prison.

NOPRIN finds that what has happened to Samuelson is not an isolated incident. It falls within a familiar pattern of intolerance and repressive aggression against voices of dissent and opposition in Imo State by Governor Ohakim and his agents. It is believed that Governor Ohakim uses a deadly hit squad to target his critics and members of opposition. This hit squad is composed of very notorious people who operate above the law.

NOPRIN is appalled at the brazen abuse of judicial power and process by Chief Magistrate Victoria Isiguzo. It is very palpable that Chief Magistrate Isiguzo is acting out a script, designed to serve the selfish political interest of Governor Ohakim. NOPRIN calls on the National Judicial Council to urgently and impartially investigate the conducts of Mrs. Isiguzo and to discipline her appropriately for her disreputable conduct. She should be removed from the judiciary if found guilty.

The judiciary has always been upheld as the last hope of the common man. By her despicable conduct, Chief Magistrate Isiguzo has betrayed the hallowed mission of the judiciary, turning it into an oppressive instrument against the common man.

Since the restoration of democratic processes in Nigeria in 1999, the judiciary, more than any other arm or institution of government, has played a significant role in sustaining and strengthening democracy. Chief Magistrate Isiguzo is undermining democracy by recklessly deploying her judicial powers to suppress democratic rights and fundamental freedoms in Imo State.

Chief Magistrate Isiguzo has smeared the image of the judiciary. With judicial officers like Mrs. Isiguzo, the Judiciary’s honour and reputation stand the risk of being completely eroded unless she and her ilk are shown the way out of the bench.

NOPRIN is alarmed at the information that Governor Ohakim has submitted her name and that of C. N. Akobundu, a Deputy Director of Public Prosecution- another of Ohakim’s judicial hit man, to the NJC for elevation as High Court Judges. The NJC should not only reject the nomination of these black legs in the judiciary, but also ensure that they are investigated and weeded out of the judiciary in the interest of honour and justice.

The NJC should act in the best interest of citizens and residents of Imo State and save Imo citizens from the use of judicial intimidation to abet executive high handedness and tyranny. This level of judicial recklessness in aide of executive brigandry in Imo state was never experienced in Imo State during the dark days of military dictatorship.

NOPRIN therefore calls on the NJC to treat this petition with the urgency and seriousness it deserves.

Yours faithfully,

Okechukwu Nwanguma
Program Coordinator