Demanding For A Joint Investigation Board Into The Oraifite-Anambra Police & Military Mayhem Of 2nd Dec 2019

 

PUBLIC INTEREST PETITION

                                                                                                              Ref: INTERSOC:001/12/19/OSGF/ABJ/NG

Monday 16th Dec 2019

Barr Boss Gidahyelda Mustapha

Secretary to the Government of the Federation

The Office of the SGF, Shehu Shagari Complex

Three Arms Zone, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

 

Your Honor,

 

Demanding For A Joint Investigation Board Into The Oraifite-Anambra Police & Military Mayhem Of 2nd Dec 2019

 

The above subject matter refers.

About Intersociety

International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is registered non-governmental and nonprofit human rights, democracy, rule of law and public security and safety advocacy group in Nigeria since 2008. It is based in Onitsha (430003), Eastern Nigeria (+234). Intersociety thematically campaigns for respect, observance, promotion and advancement of democracy and good governance, civil liberties and rule of law and public security and safety. It has also earned a name in research, investigation, documentation and publications. Intersociety is led by professionals and grassroots activists including criminologists, security studies experts, lawyers, journalists and peace and conflict resolution practitioners, etc. See our website for more details at www.intersociety-ng.org.

Powers & Functions Of SGF Upon Which We Write

We are humbly and respectfully calling and demanding for constitution of A Joint Investigation Board of the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately and impartially look into and thoroughly investigate the catastrophic mayhem above underlined. This letter and its call addressed to Your Honor is in recognition of Your Honor’s Office, its powers and functions as created by Section 171 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended. The functions, clearly spelt out on the official website of the ‘OSGF’, are numbering fifteen. Apart from the fact that Your Honor’s Office is constitutionally responsible for “ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programs for the overall development of Nigeria”, this letter is also addressed in recognition of other important powers and functions so vested.

Other powers and functions of Your Honor important and relevant in the instant case include: serving as (a) Secretary to the Council of State or Federal Executive Council, (b) coordinating the activities of Ministries and Government Agencies on the implementation of Government decisions, policies and programs, in addition to dealing with constitutional, political and socio-economic matters as may be referred to by the Presidency; and (c) coordinating Administrative Tribunals (or Investigation Board), Commissions and Panels of Enquiry; and national security and safety matters. Your Honor may also, in the instant case, consult or draw the attention of the Presidency including the Federal Executive Council and the National Security Adviser.

Joint Investigation Board In Our Mind’ & Its Terms Of Reference

It must be made clearer Your Honor that the ‘Joint Investigation Board’ under request is not ‘a Commission of Enquiry’ or ‘a Judicial Commission of Enquiry’. It is ‘a Joint Investigation Board’ with ‘criminal elements’ and ‘civil elements’ content and functionality; subdivided into ‘criminal’ and ‘civil’ investigations sub boards. Members of the ‘criminal investigation sub board’ shall be drawn (not monopolize) from ‘DMI’, ‘SSS’, ‘Force CID’, ‘Office of the National Security Adviser’ and ‘the Police Service Commission’ and may further include ‘civil’ or independent criminologists, criminal lawyers, ‘crime investigative journalists’ and intelligence experts.

The ‘criminal’ investigation sub board shall have specific task of ascertaining ‘criminal involvements and their degrees’ by ‘service’ and ‘civil’ parties. ’Service’ Parties to be thoroughly investigated include the Anambra State Commissioner of Police (John Abang), the Oraifite Area Commander (Oliver I. Inoma-Abbey), the Oraifite DPO (CSP Alexander Chigozie Onwuka), the OC/SARS, Ichi (ASP Joseph Akubo), the Commander of Onitsha 302 Artillery (Brig Gen Yukubu Bwala) and all the Police and Army sub commanders and combatants that participated in the mayhem.

The ‘civil’ parties and circumstances to be investigated or ascertained include (a) the Otu-Eke and the Otu-Afor Oraifite Masquerade clash/violence of Saturday, 30th Nov 2019 (from where the Police first allegations of: ‘abduction’, ‘assault occasioning body harm’ and ‘malicious damage to properties’ emanated), (b) Emeka Offor (mentioned and indicted in the  Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s petition to the Nigerian Bar Association and important others), (c) Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor (the chief victim), (d) domestic staff and volunteers left in the Ejiofors’ compound to tidy up the compound and items used during the family’s funeral ceremony, (e) Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s elder brother, Evangelist Emeka Ejiofor (the key eyewitness) and (f) other eyewitnesses who may volunteer to speak or can be independently identified.

Others are (g) circumstances surrounding the ‘service’ killing of no fewer than four defenseless citizens in the Ejiofors’ compound and the whereabouts of their corpses, (h) claims by the Police of killing of ACP Oliver Inoma-Abbey and ASP Joseph Akubo including whether truly they were killed and if true, when, where and how they were they killed; and the whereabouts of their bodies, (i) true identities of the two unidentified citizens killed and set ablaze in a police van, stage-managed and dramatized  by the Police hundreds of meters away from Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s compound and the ‘service’ identities of those who killed and set them ablaze, (j) properties burnt or destroyed and the ‘service’ identities of those who burnt or destroyed them, (k) the remote and immediate circumstances surrounding the early morning and late morning surveillance and violent invasions of the Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s family compound by the Oraifite Area Commander and his DPO; later joined  to perpetrate the unspeakable mayhem by the Ichi SARS operatives, their OC and others including soldiers of the Onitsha Army Cantonment.

The ‘civil investigation sub board’ shall have responsibility to unmask the ‘civil elements or involvements’ in the unspeakable mayhem including number of properties such as dwelling houses, street trading stores, house-hold properties, domestic livestock and automobiles burnt or destroyed; extent of their burning or destruction, location(s) and ownership of the burnt or destroyed properties, their current market value, ‘service’ and civil persons or parties (if any) openly involved, persons or authorities to be responsible for their rebuilding or replacement or compensation, and any other such civil findings necessary. Members of the ‘civil’ investigation sub board shall be drawn from Your Honor’s Office and others; the standing oversight committees in the Senate and the House of Reps including Police, National Security, Defense, Army, Intelligence and justice.

Synergy & Collaboration

Both ‘civil’ and ‘criminal’ investigation sub committees shall synergize and jointly meet and interface where necessary. The Joint Investigation Board as a whole shall collaborate with the Police Service Commission especially where and when necessary. It is also informed that the Police Service Commission is separately invited to carry out its own investigation in recognition of powers vested on it by Sections 6 (1) of the PSC Act of 2004 and 153 (m) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and its Paragraph 30 under Part 1 of the Third Schedule.

 

The referenced Sections empower the PSC to: in the event of professional misconduct, investigate for purpose of dismissing or demoting or retiring (whether living or dead and if found culpable) any sworn or serving police officer (including CP John Abang, ACP Oliver Inoma-Abbey, CSP Alex C. Onwuka and ASP Joseph Akubo) in Nigeria other than the Inspector General.

What Must Be Done With The Joint Investigation Outcomes

Unlike the ‘toothless bull dog’ patterns and trends associated with ‘Administrative’ or ‘Judicial Panels or Commissions of Inquiry’ in Nigeria or any part thereof, the Joint Investigation Board of our preference shall have their outcomes perused, separated and divided into ‘criminal findings’ and ‘civil findings’. All the ‘service persons or authorities’ criminally indicted no matter how highly placed must be arrested, disengaged from their ‘service agencies’ and prosecuted by the Attorney General of the Federation.

 

The ‘civil findings’, on the other hand, shall address the issues of rebuilding all the burnt properties or commensurate monetary compensations to their owners; written apologies to the wronged including the chief victim (Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor) and all members of his nuclear and extended family so affected, adequate compensations to the families of the slain and the wounded as well as incorporation of the lessons learnt into the country’s operational security and safety policies particularly the now ‘routinized’  ‘service’ wanton burning or destruction of properties belonging to members of the public on account of allegation of death of ‘service’ officers in the line of their illegitimate or otherwise duties. To ensure maximum success, we are ready to assist where necessary particularly to ensure fair hearing and fair treatment for all the parties involved.

Facts Of The Matter

Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor is a licensed legal practitioner of at least Fifteen Years in Nigeria having been called to the Nigerian Bar in 2004. Professionally, he is the Lead-Counsel to the controversially proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its Leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu. He is also the National Legal Adviser of the “Otu-Eke” Oraifite Masquerade Group, among his numerous other professional engagements as a lawyer. Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor is also a successful legal practitioner with offices in Abuja and Anambra State. It is trite that under the Nigerian Legal Practice and System, any Legal Practitioner called to the Nigerian Bar has the right and indeed a duty to represent all manner of person(s) accused of any offence(s), the nature of the offence notwithstanding. This is commonly referred to as the “CAB RANK RULE”, which is covered by Rule 24(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007.

 

Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s late elder brother- Rev. Louis Chukwukpelum Ejiofor died on the 9th day of October, 2019, following an unsuccessful neuro-surgery and his interment was fixed for 27th Nov 2019. The Barr, his late elder brother and others are children of late Nze Okolie Ejiofor of Umunakwa kindred, Ifite-Oraifite in Ekwusigo Council Area of Anambra State and as tradition demands, Barr Ejiofor left his Abuja base and relocated to his ancestral Oraifite Community on 24th Nov 2019. The burial and interment took place on 26th and 27th Nov, with outing service on Sunday, 1st Dec 2019. As a popular lawyer, the funeral attracted numerous friends and well wishers including scores of youths who volunteered to make the funeral event successful.

 

The week-long funeral rite ended successfully on Sunday, 1st Dec 2019 with a Thanks Giving service and recorded zero hitches. In a different incident reported on Sat 30th Nov 2019, there was a rivalry clash involving the “Otu-Eke” and the “Otu-Afor” Masquerade groups in Oraifite. Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor is the lawyer to the “Otu-Eke” Masquerade group. The clash resulted from a funeral outing elsewhere in the Community, leading to a fight and ‘momentarily’ disappearance of one person apiece from the two groups and destruction of funeral tents, drinks, chairs and foods.

 

It was from the minor communal incident or ‘cultural group-affray’ that the Nigeria Police made an uninvestigated allegation of “abduction”, ”assault occasioning body harm” and “malicious damage to properties” which the Force curiously and wrongly leveled against Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor. It must be stressed or pointed out that Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor was never seen around or at the scene of the funeral ceremony attended by the rival masquerade groups on Sat 30th Nov 2019. He was busy in his family compound attending to hundreds of friends and well wishers who visited to sympathize with him over the loss of his elder brother (Rev Louis Chukwukpelum Ejiofor).

 

Between 5.30am and 6am on Monday, 2nd Dec 2019, the Oraifite Area Commander and his DPO with sixteen other armed police personnel had stormed the Barr’s family house, with unclear mission. Having met the Barr’s absence, his immediate elder brother, Evangelist Emeka Ejiofor and other family members were handy and met with them. Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor had left late evening of the previous day for his Nnewi office law firm. In the end, the Barr spoke with the Area Commander on phone through his immediate elder brother and during the phone conversation, the Area Commander claimed “they came to pick one of his volunteers wanted for a communal violence”.  An understanding was reached and the Barr promised to see the Area Commander on or before 11am.

 

Surprisingly at about 10.30am same morning, truck-loads of armed police personnel comprising of the operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), Ichi Unit and others had besieged the Lawyer’s family compound and violently broke into same. As a result, verbal exchanges ensued between them and handful of domestic staff and volunteers who were tidying up the compound and watching over the environment. They were all unarmed. The armed SARS operatives and other personnel drawn from the Area Command opened fire after being told that the Lawyer was not at home and likely on his way to honor the invitation from the same Area Commander. Police bullets rained in all directions, forcing many including members of the neighborhood to run for safety.

 

Resisted by some of the volunteers through anti bullet charms, the armed police personnel became deadlier and resorted to grabbing and hitting them with metals and thick planks. In the end, four defenseless citizens were killed and others sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds. Eyewitnesses said two of the dead victims were rescued by their colleagues and hidden while the police made away with two others who were later set ablaze with a police van hundreds of meters away from Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s family compound. Police also said they lost two officers (an ACP and an ASP) during the attack. This claim has not been independently authenticated. Police have also not told the public where they kept their bodies if truly killed as well as who killed them and how, where and when they were killed.

 

As stated in the Anambra State Police Command’s statement same day, reinforcements comprising armed PMF and police anti cult, anti robbery and anti terrorism squads and soldiers were drafted to the scene, leading to war-like siege of the area. The drafted armed security personnel further became barbarous and engaged in wanton burning and destruction of properties including six family houses belonging to Ejiofors’ family, sixteen others within the neighborhood, ten street trading stores, domestic livestock, automobiles and house-hold properties; all independently valued at not less than N700m or $2.3m. The aged mother of the Lawyer, Lolo Joy Udenkwo Ejiofor and scores of others were also hit with live bullets. Among the houses burnt was a newly completed duplex where the widow wife of late Rev Louis Chukwu Ejiofor, Mrs. Chinwe Ejiofor was mourning and receiving sympathizers. The widow wife and her children also nearly escaped being shot dead.

 

As if these were not enough, the culpable Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, CP John Abang, turned around in a public notice declaring  Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor “wanted”, accusing him of ‘burning his own house and properties’. The CP also claimed that Barr Ejiofor “is wanted for sundry felonies” including “murder, arson, terrorism and treason”. The embattled Lawyer had since approached the Awka Federal High Court via suit number FHC/AWK/CS/133/19 for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights to life, dignity of human person, liberty, privacy and family and fair hearing as well as his right to freedom of movement, association, assembly and expression. In response, the Mr. Justice Quadri led Court 2 on Friday, 14th Dec 2019 ordered all the Respondents in the Suit including the Anambra CP and the IGP to ‘maintain status quo and warned not to arrest the Lawyer until the Originating Motion on Notice is determined’.

Nigeria Police May Have Been Hired, Not Invited In The Instant Case

The background of the establishment of the Oraifite Area Command and the Divisional Police Station is adorned with an inkling of ‘privatization’. Before the recent creation of the Oraifite Area Command, there was ‘Oraifite Divisional Police Station’. The two till date are synonymous with the name “Emekah Offorh”. The Divisional Police Station was so privatized that a former DPO, B.S. Wordu, who later retired as ACP for Onitsha Area Command, was sarcastically called “Emekah Offorh DPO”, having served as “Oraifite DPO” for twelve years in a row without statutory and routine transfer. The current Oraifite DPO and the Area Commander are not different. They are widely regarded as discharging their duties according to the whims and caprices of some troublesome and controversially rich persons in the State or any part thereof. Totality of these has lent credence to the fact that the Nigeria Police Force was ‘hired’ to cause and perpetrate the recent Oraifite mayhem.

Key Issues To Be Determined By The Joint Investigation Board

Finally, Your Honor, the following are the key issues to be determined by the Joint Investigation Board:(1)If it has become a crime for a lawyer to defend his or her client(s) in Nigeria, the offence gravity notwithstanding and if there is any law in Nigeria that makes a practicing lawyer a party (or a criminal) to an offence accused of committed by his or her client(s). (2) If the Nigeria Police Force including the Anambra State Police Command and the Nigerian Army have become the NBA and its Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and taken over their functions.

 

(3) If lawyers defending Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists or Herdsmen jihadists in the Northeast or North-central have had their houses and properties burnt to ashes by security forces anywhere in Nigeria. (4) If it has it become a police or military operational or law enforcement guide or ethic for service personnel that died in the line of duty to be retaliated by wrecking havoc such as burning down houses and other properties or shooting and killing at will. (5) If the Nigeria Police was hired to kill and destroy or invited to investigate and prosecute the said “abduction”, “assault occasioning body harm” and “malicious damage to properties”.

 

(6) To ascertain the mission of the Oraifite Area Commander and his DPO to the Family House of Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor between 5.30am and 6am on Monday, 2nd Dec 2019 and the Police summersault hours later that “they received a formal complaint against Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor at about 11.30am” . (7) If it has become the business of Police SARS, an anti armed robbery outfit, to meddle into “affray”, “malicious damage to properties” and “assault occasioning body harm”. (8) If it is true that two police officers, an ACP and an ASP were killed and who killed them if true, where and when were they killed and how were they killed (i.e. whether it is by strangulation or by gunshot or by lynching or by clubbing to death or by machete or by poisonous substance)

 

(9) To also be determined is if it is true that the two police officers were killed by the angered domestic volunteers clearing the Lawyer’s family compound, the use of force and proportionality of same, extent of provocation and the principles of self defense as clearly defined by Section 60 (1) of the Criminal Code Act 2004 applicable in Southern Nigeria including Anambra State. (10) The whereabouts of the corpses of the two police officers if truly they were killed and those of two defenseless citizens shot dead by Police at Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor’s compound and taken away.  (11) Identities of the ‘Service’ Police Officers that set ablaze the two corpses with a police van, perpetrated hundreds of meters away from the Ejiofors’ compound so as to blame the arson on the Barrister and his family.

 

(12) To ascertain why the Anambra State Police Command and the State Commissioner of Police are shielding themselves or keeping criminal mute over the mayhem perpetrated by their personnel and soldiers including burning of six modern houses belonging to Ejiofors and sixteen others within the neighborhood and other multimillion naira properties as well as killing and maiming that took place. (13) If it is no longer part of police and military morals and ethics to value and respect the dead including those mourning their dead ones such as Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor and his aged mother, Lolo Joy Udenkwo Ejiofor (in her 80s); the widow wife of Barr Ejiofor’s late elder brother, Mrs. Chinwe Ejiofor, Barr’s immediate elder brother, Evangelist Emeka Ejiofor and other members of their nuclear and extended family99*, their neighbors and well wishers.

 

 

Yours in the Service to Humanity

 

For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law

 

·         Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chair of the Board

Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies

Master of Science, Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution

 

·         Lawyer Obianuju Joy Igboeli

Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program

 

·         Lawyer Ndidiamaka Bernard

Head, Int’l Justice & Human Rights Program

 

·         Lawyer Chinwendu Cordelia  Umeche

Head, Democracy & Good Governance

 

·         Contacts:

Mobile/Whatsapp Line: +2348174090052

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: www.intersociety-ng.org

Address: 41, Miss Elems Street, 430003, Onitsha

 

CC:

·         The Chairman, Police Service Commission

The Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja, Nigeria

 

·         The Attorney General of the Federation

Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, Nigeria