One of the commissioner nominees in Ebonyi state, Sabinus Nwankwegu, has been indicted in a murder case of a traditional ruler in the state. A case which dated as far back as 2005. Investigations showed that Mr. Nwankwegu, a former Deputy Speaker of Ebonyi State Assembly, is a murder suspect currently on trial.
It was revealed that Mr. Nwankwegu was arraigned alongside 21 others following a report by a judicial panel of inquiry set up by a former governor of the state, Sam Egwu, to look into the crisis in Oguzoronweya Autonomous Community in Ozibo Local Government Area, leading to the death of the traditional ruler, Innocent Nwodom in 2005.
The white paper report of the judicial panel of inquiry dated September 2005 , indicted the former deputy speaker and recommended his immediate prosecution. The judicial panel of inquiry was headed by Justice Elvis Ngene. The nine-man panel had representatives from the ministry of justice, State Security Service (SSS), Police, Traditional Rulers Council, etc.
The panel was inaugurated on February 23, 2005. It had five terms of reference which include: “To determine the remote and immediate causes of the crises that broke out in the community that led to the death of its traditional ruler Eze Innocent Nwodom.
“To identify the groups/individuals that are directly or indirectly involved in the crises leading to the death of the traditional ruler and recommend appropriate action.”
According to the report, the late traditional ruler, Chief Eze, was murdered by a militant group in the community called “Ikuku” led by Mr. Nwankwegu’s Personal Aide, Chukwuma Mbam, and sponsored by Mr. Nwankwegu.
The panel therefore recommended that the state government should take serious action against him which will serve as a deterrent to other erring and over-bearing political office holders. It also recommended that a police team should investigate his roles as a principal actor in the crisis and sponsorship of the Ikuku militant group.
The state government accepted the recommendations of the panel and in addition, ordered the prosecution of Mr. Nwankwegu for murder for the roles he played in the death of the monarch.
Investigations further revealed that since then the case has been in court, and at a time, Mr. Nwankwegu and the 21 others were detained in prison custody. Mr. Nwankwegu was later released by the court on health grounds.