It was the 1st Saturday of May, 2006; an unforgetable day in the life of young and precious kid, Juliana Rose Pettis. She marched in, sang and rolled into her seat with other angelic kids her age to welcome Christ into her pure and innocent heart. What a day!!! The proud parents, Jody and Mary and her senior brother, Jonathan were there to grace the occasion. Good enough, Jonathan was one of the Altar Boys that day. Incidentally though, the Big Kids, Joshua and Carissa could not be there physically. They were with us spiritually and rejoiced with their baby sister as she said her warm welcome to the Love of her life, Jesus Christ, Who gave us His Body and Blood to be our food for our spiritual nourishment. We thank God for this initial encounter with this special child, Juliana. May God keep this favour ever warm and everlasting. Juliana Rose, my Queen, we are proud you went through your preparation for this day, bravely and with childlike resignation to God. We are all happy for you. You know too well I could not miss that ecstatic day in your life. Ciao and remain ever blessed.
Italian police gave me poisonous substances— Nigerian businessman Thursday, June 8, 2006 Samuel Franklin Anene has been reduced to a shadow of himself for the past five years. He told Okey Ndiribe that his tribulations began when he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned during his trip to Italy in 1997 . WHEN Samuel Franklin Anene,a Nigerian businessman went on a business trip to Italy nine years ago, he never bargained that his life would nearly be wrecked by the Italian police over a frivolous allegation. He did not know he would be illegally imprisoned and tortured by the Italian security operatives. Anene, who is also a citizen of Venezuela by birth said that he was arrested as a suspected associate of drug traffickers in 1997. Narrating his ordeal to Vanguard Features (VF), Anene who hails from Eziowelle in Anambra State said he was released in 2001, four years after his arrest when it was discovered that he was innocent. Said he: “ I was jailed in Le-Veheate Prison in Turin, where the police tortured me severely. They also drugged every food I ate. I fainted on several occasions”. Anene said that he was later transferred to Pizza Dansoria prison in Alexandra, adding that it was in the prison that luck smiled on him when the Catholic Cardinal of Alexandra visited him. He said he was bleeding through his nose and ears when the Cardinal visited him. The cardinal had been alerted about his condition by a concerned female prison official. Anene said he told the Italian Cardinal that Nigeian born Cardinal Francis Arinze who is based at the Vatican and his father were from the same village and that he was innocent of the charges levelled against him. Anene said the police had lied to the Italian Cardinal by claiming that Anene was being investigated for mafia activities, but the Cardinal ensured that he was taken to court. Anene was set free at the court for want of evidence. Recounting how his ordeal began, Anene told VF that he travelled from Brazil to Italy in 1997 to buy shoes and leather products adding that when he arrived in Cassele Airport in Turin, he was rounded up by 14 plain clothes policemen who demanded for his passport. He said, he handed over his Venezuelan international passport with which he had travelled since he was born in Venezuela and therefore had dual citizenship . Anene further stated the policemen went ahead and searched his brief case but found nothing, adding that he was then taken into one of the rooms at the airport for x-ray. When the x-ray result came out it was negative. But unknown to him, his ordeal had just started. Not satisfied with the result of the first test they subjected Anene to, he was made to go through more scrutiny. The next stage was that some liquids were mixed with coke and he was forced to drink it. Said he: “Immediately I drank it, I began to lose consciousness and at the same time felt like going to the toilet. By that time I couldn’t walk. Some people carried me to a place where I defecated”. Again, nothing was found on him. Still not satisfied, the men drew out their guns and told Anene that they were from the Italian police and demanded that he should tell them what he knew about drug business. “They said I should tell them what I knew about Nigerian drug dealers in Brazil and Colombia. They said they had information that some people were using me to traffick in drugs because of my Venezuelan citizenship,” he said. “ After the interrogation, I told them I wanted to carry my briefcase but they refused. They locked me up in a room and went away. Later when they came back, they told me that they saw 167 grammes of cocaine in my briefcase. I told them they had lied because they searched my briefcase in my presence and found nothing. The next thing I knew was that they locked me up in prison”. He said, when he demanded to be charged to court the Italian police only responded by transferring him from one prison to another in Alexandria. The charge levelled against him by the police was dangerous association with international drug traffickers. Anene should have been jailed for 21 years if he was found guilty by an Italian court. He said the policemen threatened that they had the right to detain him for up to five years while investigating the allegations levelled against him. He alleged that after he was arrested and nothing incriminating was found on him, the Italian poilce went ahead to cook up evidence to back the drug charges against him adding that they claimed that some quantity of cocaine was found in his brief case the day he was arrested. But he denied the allegation and demanded that they produce the video recording of his arrest at the airport as that should have provided the authentic evidence to support whatever charges levelled against him. But the Italian police authorities rejected this suggestion. He said he spent two years in prison where more chemicals were applied on him. During the period of his unlawful detention, he was extensively and severely tortured and dehumanised. He further said that various poisonous chemicals and substances were injected into his body and nostrils by the Italian policemen in their desperate bid to force him to confess to what he knew nothing about. He further alleged that some of the poison that was administered on him was put in his food and water adding that the gas that was pumped into his cell during winter was also toxic. Said he: “ I always felt weak after inhaling this gas”. He said he was convinced his food and water was always poisoned because he was usually served separately from the other prisoners. He said, he initially rejected the poisoned food rations and water that was served to him but was later forced to eat them to avoid being starved to death. He said the first symptom he noticed due to the poisoned food, water and gas he had been subjected to was that blisters began to appear in his mouth. Said he: “ The first symptom I noticed was when my mouth began to tear. The second was that my hair began to turn to grey.” According to him, since his release, he had been suffering from various forms of intractable illnesses which had defied medical solution in Nigeria. “When I returned to Nigeria, I went to Yaba Psychiatric Hospital for treatment as the chemicals the police used in poisoning me had started having effects”. At the hospital doctors were at a loss on how to handle his case and asked him to get the name of the chemicals used by the Italian police to poison him. He said the doctors told him that the only way his case could be handled was for him to contact the Italian Government through its Embassy in Nigeria so that the names of the chemicals used in poisoning him could be released to enable the doctors diagnose his ailment or send him to Italy for treatment. Anene said, he did not initially feel the impact of the poison on him. Said he: “ When I was still being held in the Italian prison, I did not feel the impact of these poisonous substances that were injected into me. But it became worse when I returned to Nigeria. However, I thought that with time these poisonous substances would fizzle out of my blood circulation”. Anene further claimed that his efforts to persuade the Italian Embassy in Nigeria to look into his plight has proved abortive. Indeed, he accused the Italian Embassy of playing games with his life. ‘They have been playing with my life.” He continued: “I have gone to their embassy and they kept telling me to come today, come tomorrow. My health is deteriorating. I can no longer live a normal life as I have lost both mental and physical stability,” he said. Anene said he had planned to go to the Embassy two years ago to begin a hunger strike but was advised to follow due process. He said he wrote through his lawyer Peter Ozobialu to notify the embassy of his intention to begin a hunger strike by April 26, 2004 but the Italian Embassy, adding that copies of the letter were made available to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Inspector General of Police and some media houses. The embassy later replied Anene’s lawyer Mr Peter Ozobialu in the following words: “With reference to your letter in which you brought our attention to the case of your client, Mr Anene , we would like to inform you that this Consulate General has reported the delicate matter to the competent Italian authorities.” The reply was signed by one Dot Alder Zonari. After Anene’s lawyer received the reply, he waited for two months and wrote a reminder two months later. When VF called at the Italian Embassy in Lagos, the security men at the gate said there was no competent official to comment on the matter.