Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of a Federal High Court in Anambra on Friday awarded N102 million compensatory damages in favour of Ifeanyi Ejiofor the lawyer to the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, for gross violation of his fundamental rights and cost of litigation.
The court also awarded him N5 million being the cost of his Toyota Camry car which was burnt by security agencies.
The IPOB lawyer had in a fundamental rights enforcement suit with No: FHC/AWK/CS/56/2021, dragged the government to court to challenge the invasion of his ancestral home in Oraifite, in the state on June 6, 2021, by security personnel during which his aide was killed.
The Nigeria Police Force; the Inspector General of Police; the State Security Service; the Director-General, State Security Service; the Nigerian Security And Civil Defence Corps; the Nigerian Army; the Chief of Army Staff and Chukwuka Ofoegbu (a.k.a. Ijele Speaks) were joined as first – eighth defendants in the suit.
Delivering judgment, Justice Nganjiwa declared the brutal invasion by the agents of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th respondents as oppressive, and gross violation of the rights to life, dignity of human person, fair hearing, right to private and family life of the plaintiff.
He also declared as illegal, oppressive and unlawful, the taking away and subsequent burning of Ejiofor’s Toyota Car with registration number: YAB 60 CB together with the dead body of his domestic staff, Samuel Okoro, and other vital documents and valuables seized from his house by government agents.
The court further made an order restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th respondents either by themselves, their agents, privies, and howsoever called, from further harassing him, threatening, and/or taking further steps in an attempt to terminate his life and/or destroying the properties of the plaintiff.
The Judge also restrained the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th respondents either directly or through their agents, privies and howsoever called, from further harassing, intimidating, and/or threatening to illegally arrest and torturing him.
While directing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th respondents, to issue public apology to him in two national newspapers, for the gross violation of his fundamental rights, Justice Nganjiwa directed the Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff and the Director-General of State Services to immediately identify their personnel involved in this gruesome act and appropriately sanction them in line with the extant laws.
Reacting to the verdict, Ejiofor wondered what was his offence to deserve such level of brutality.
He said, “All the petitions I wrote to the heads of security agencies including the DSS, the police, and the Army for a thorough investigation of this dastardly act were never attended to. Rather, all the security agents involved in these crimes against humanity have maintained sordid and disturbing silence till date.
“Today (Friday), justice has prevailed and there is no hiding place again for any of those perpetrators because this judgment must be executed to the letter.
“Interestingly, I can now authoritatively confirm to the whole world that the three of my domestic staff abducted during this bloody invasion of my ancestral home as earlier named, are being detained in solitary confinement at the facility of the DSS National Headquarters, Abuja.
“Even though the DSS have repeatedly denied both in their court affidavits and every one of their correspondences, of holding my domestic staff, compelling evidence available at our disposal is irresistibly pointing to the fact that they are being held in the DSS facility, which evidence was equally submitted before the court.
“May I respectfully, and strongly relying on the strength of this judgment, call on the Director-General of DSS, Abuja, to immediately direct for the unconditional release of my above named domestic staff being held in their custody, and accordingly, comply with all terms of this judgment.
“Further to this demand, may I remind the DG of the DSS, who is also a party to this suit, and well represented throughout the proceedings, giving rise to this judgment, to, in compliance with the positive orders of the court, direct for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the DSS personnel involved in this bloody invasion of my ancestral home.
“I had before now, forwarded to the DSS, a clear clip of the CCTV footage of this bloody invasion of my ancestral home, which showed the clear view of the invaders, as it would enable the DSS to identify their personnel involved, for necessary action.
“Judgement will soon be delivered on other sister separate suit, which I filed to challenge the extrajudicial killing of my Personal Assistant, Samuel Okoro, as well as other grave infractions.”
The PUNCH had reported that one year after the invasion of his house by security personnel, Ejiofor had demanded the release of his three staff members who were still being kept in detention.
While describing June 6, 2021, as “Black Sunday,” he said the attackers on his house in Oraifite were “aided by two native doctors whose bodies were dotted with charms.”
According to him, “the murderers in security uniforms” scaled through his fence and laid siege to his ancestral home from about 2:30am until past 3:30 am, during which time they fired sporadically in different directions and viciously expended live ammunition on his domestic staff.
He had said during the invasion, his chief driver, Felix Okonkwo, and two of his domestic staff namely, Lawrence Ugochukwu and Ikenna Chibuike, were also bundled away and are still in the custody of security personnel..