Leo Igwe arrested in Nigeria

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Passing on this message received today re Leo Igwe, who is head of Centre for Inquiry in Nigeria and IHEU representative. Very serious allegations. Difficult to comment without more information but very disturbing:

At about 7.30 am this morning a team of armed police men arrested Mr Leo Igwe humanist leader and his father and whisked them away to Zone 9 police AIG office in Umuahia. The police team was led by Dr Edward Uwa the university leacturer who raped a ten year old student Miss Daberechi Anongam.They were accompanied by Mr Ethelbert Ugwu a millionaire and financier of Dr Uwa.

About three years ago,Dr Uwa invited Ms Daberechi Anongam to do some house chores for him and forced her to bed,covering her mouth and raped her. She sustained several injuries in her private part. Leo Igwe and his family members led an intensive campaign for justice for Ms Daberechi. After a lot of intrigues,the police now started a prosecution on the matter at Ahiazu magistrate court Imo State.

Since then, Leo Igwe and his family have known no peace as several pettitions have been witten against them to intimidate them to submission and to abandon the struggle for justice. This latest one,they have been accused them of mudering an idividual who doctors provided a death certificate saying the man died of HIV and AIDS complication.

Leo and his father risk being tortured or murdered in police custody for his role seeking for justice for Ms Daberechi whose parents are very poor and cannot afford two meals in a day not to talk about paying legal charges.

We need to call the Police authorities in Nigeria about the risk of additional international outrage now that this fertile ground of religious bigotry and suppression of justice and human rights has already misled a citizen of ours to suicide in the name of God!

The numbers to call are : AIG Ringin: +2348033225349
PPRO Umuahia: +2347030988278
Com Aloy Okoro: +2348037217361

I am monitoring the situation closely and will report back.But anyone who is able to call will be helpful to stack up the pressure.

Aluta Continua Victoria Acerta!


POSTSCRIPT 11.22AM. Further news received:

Dear All,

I have just spoken to the PPRO. He said that Leo and his father are in a meeting with DC James Ogbonna in charge of crime. It will be important to alert the AIG Ringim +2348033225349 that the international friends are aware of the case of rape of Ms Daberechi Anongam and the desperation to obstruct justice by Eddy Uwa and Ethel Ugwu through frivolous petitions and phantom charges.

I am still following up.

Thank you all.

POSTSCRIPT 17.45: from Josh Kutchinsky:


I have contacted Amnesty International in London.
Leo is known to Amnesty. They are looking into and taking up the matter as I write.
Various people have been active on Twitter and on various forums.
As far as I can gather everyone who has contacted the police using the three numbers Uche provided have beeen spoken to politely but have been fobbed off with the answer that the matter will be looked into. They have then just been invited to call back.
We must continue to do what we can to make the authorities in Nigeria aware that we are on the case.



POST SCRIPT 18.12. You can follow events in more detail here.

POST SCRIPT 18.19. From Josh again:

I have heard from Nigeria team / Africa Programme / Amnesty International that Leo has been released.

I then spoke with Uche Igwe who is not in the region but is in Nigeria 10-12 hours drive away.

He has spoken to Leo. He says that Leo seemed exhausted but he believes he is in good health.
They paid something between 100 and 150 dollars for the bail.
Leo has a low battery on his mobile and therefore cannot be contacted for the moment. He plans to email as soon as he can.

I confirmed with Uche that the charge facing Leo and his father is that he murdered someone from the village. This man's death had been thoroughly investigated and the death certificate written up to confirm that the man had died as a result of complications from HIV/AIDS. The police have this death certificate. The man who is alleging that Leo and his family conspired to kill this man is the person who is under investigation for the rape of a young child.

Uche asked me to thank everyone for the efforts they have already made and would like us to continue to apply pressure for justice for this young girl.

I told Uche that I know that people have been very concerned with the safety and security of our man in West Africa, Leo Igwe, and his family. I told him that I am sure people will also want to support Leo in trying to ensure justice for this young girl.