A lawyer to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Ifeanyi Ejiofor, has filed a suit against the Nigerian Police Force at a Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State, over an alleged invasion of his house and killing of four occupants.
Mr Ejiofor is also the lawyer to Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader who fled Nigeria after being granted bail in a treason trial.
Mr Ejiofor’s house in Anambra State was raided and razed by the police on December 2, which led to the death of at least four persons including two police officers.
The police said they were in the house to investigate a reported case of abduction and to arrest suspects when they were attacked.
The police named the two officers killed in the violence as Joseph Akubo and Oliver Abbey.
The police also declared Mr Ejiofor wanted.
Mr Ojiofor’s suit
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/135/19, Mr Ejiofor, who filed the suit through his lawyer, Maxwell Okpara, Is asking the court for an order to compel the police to pay him N2 billion as compensation and damages for the burning of his house and shooting of his aged mother at his Oraifite hometown in Anambra State on December 2.
The defendants in the suit include the Police Service Commission, Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police, Area Commander, and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) heading a police division in Anambra State.
Others are the Nigerian Army, Chief of Army Staff, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Attorney General of the Federation.
The lawyer, in the suit made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, said he has been a lawyer for over 17 years. He said he wants the court to restrain the respondents, their agents, and privies from further harassing, intimidating, threatening his life and destroying his house and other properties.
Mr Ojiofor further asked for an order of the court stopping the respondents from threatening him with arrest and torture and to compel them to retract the public notice made on December 3. He also asked for an order compelling the police to tender an apology to him in five major newspapers.
In a 37-paragraph affidavit in support of his fundamental rights enforcement suit, the lawyer claimed that he was in his Oraifite hometown in Anambra State between November 25 and December 1, for the burial of his late brother, Louis Ejiofor.
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He said on December 2, his house was still filled with relatives, friends and well-wishers, helping him to evacuate tents, chairs and other materials used for the burial ceremony when a group of 16 policemen allegedly invaded his house.
In the affidavit deposed to by his immediate elder brother, Emeka Ejiofor, on his behalf, the lawyer said that the police claimed to be looking for suspects involved in an alleged communal clash and that he spoke on phone with the Area Commander promising that he would make himself available on the same day by 11 a.m.
Mr Ejiofor further said that by 10.15 a.m., the same police squad led by the Area Commander came ahead of the appointed time and violently invaded his ancestral home, shooting sporadically.
The lawyer said during the operation, four young men were shot dead while his aged mother sustained gunshot injury.
He said the dead bodies were evacuated from his house to a market place and burnt there.
He pleaded photographs and video clips showing the alleged destruction of his house by the police adding that the photographs and video clips would be tendered during trial.
The IPOB lawyer further explained in his suit that on December 3, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, made a public announcement through television stations and other news media that he had been declared wanted without being given adequate time and opportunity to respond to any allegation against him any.
He, therefore, urged the court to declare the invasion of his house and subsequent shootings and killing of unarmed civilians as barbaric, wicked, illegal, oppressive and a gross violation of his rights to life, dignity of human person, personal liberty, fair hearing and right to private and family life as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
The lawyer further sought for a court declaration that the setting ablaze of all buildings and properties in his Oraifite ancestral home in Ekwusigo Local Government of Anambra State by the police is illegal, barbaric, oppressive, unlawful and amounted to a gross violation of his rights to property as guaranteed by the constitution.
Mr Ejiofor also wants the court to declare that the December 3 public notice by the police declaring him as a wanted person without being given an opportunity to respond to any allegation against him, is illegal, unconstitutional, unreasonable, null and void as the action violates his right to a fair hearing as guaranteed by law.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Ejiofor, who was declared wanted by the police on December 3, accused the police of attempting to assassinate him.
IPOB, an outlawed successionist group, also said the narrative by the police is false. The group said the police attacked Mr Ejiofor’s house unprovoked and shot at people in the house killing at least two of them.
On December 3, the police declared Mr Ejiofor wanted over the violence.
“Gentleman, I will like to let Nigerians know that as we speak, Barrister Ejiofor, an IPOB member and his cohorts have been declared wanted by the command,” John Abang, the police commissioner said.
“And I will seek the cooperation of law-abiding Nigerians from North, South, East and West, wherever they find this individual, they should report to the nearest police station or any other security agency for possible arrest and prosecution,” Mr Abang said.
Mr Ejiofor later released a video explaining his account of what transpired.