By Joy Amanchukwu
I have decided to come out and tell my story too after I read the story of my ‘sister’, Mrs Wendy Igwema, whose husband was arrested in Italy and thrown into jail on false charges. Her story was in ThisDay, and The Guardian newspaper of Wednesday September 9, 2021.
I have a similar story, and want to add my voice to the cry of many of our people arrested and thrown in jail on charges of belonging to a Mafia group.
Our ordeal started last year on the 28th day of October 2020. We were just waking up from sleep that fateful morning when we heard a knock on our door. After we opened, we saw nine Italian police officers. Surprised, we asked them what they wanted. One of them told us that they have come to arrest my husband. I too wanted to follow my husband to the police station in Vallete in Torino Italy. They refused and gave me the phone number of a lawyer, Manuel Perga, whose office is located at Piazza XVIII dicembre 1, 10122 in Piemonte Torino. He is a criminal lawyer.
I called this lawyer, and he asked me to accompany him to the prison where my husband was being held. The lawyer asked the officials at the prison what offence my husband, Stanley Chukwudi Amanchukwu, had committed, and they said he was a member of a mafia group. That is an allegation and it is false. My husband does not belong to any mafia organisation but is a Norseman. Norsemen in Italy usually carry out welfare and charity work with less privileged individuals and institutions in Italy. They visit orphanages and try to bring some succor to them.
Part of the allegations they levelled against my husband include the lie that he is a pimp who operates an illegal ring of human trafficking. They alleged that he collects at least 500 euros monthly from each of the girls, and receives 15,000 euros monthly from his mafia activities. These are all lies.
My husband is a devout Christian, and he ekes a living in Italy assisting Italians in their shops, businesses and enterprises. If indeed my husband earns as much as 15,000 euros monthly as alleged by these policemen, we would not be living the way we live. If he gets 15,000 euros monthly from these allegations laid on him, why would he be struggling to make ends meet to meet the needs of his family? I try to support my husband’s little income with proceeds from my hairstyling shop in Torino.
Since June last year 2020, there have been adjournment upon adjournment of our case by the judge. We tried to make contact with the Nigerian embassy in Italy but we failed. Most Nigerian Associations in Italy have not contacted us, and we have been abandoned.
For a long time, it was very difficult for me to see my husband, and it is only recently that the efforts of our lawyer Manuel Pergas paid off, and I could see him. He was looking very frail, and we all began to cry seeing how emaciated he had become.
I want to use this opportunity to request his release. He is not a criminal and a Mafia Boss (as the Italians allege). So far, there’s no evidence put forward against him that he has committed the offence they allege he has committed. Our whole family has been struggling hard to survive. Without any help whatsoever, I have to struggle to fend for three kids – take them to school, feed them, buy their medication – all from the meagre proceeds from my hairdressing shop.
Mrs Joy Amanchukwu has lived in Torino Italy for 16 years.