The Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State, has awarded N52 million as damages against the police and Nigerian Army for invading the home of Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lead counsel for the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
The Nigerian security operatives had carried out the raid on Mr Ejiofor’s home at Oraifite in Anambra State, during the funeral of his brother, razing down the house and neighbouring ones on December 2, 2019.
Mr Ejiofor also announced his victorious legal battle over the police and the Nigerian army in a statement on Friday.
He said the Federal High Court judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, in his judgement on the fundamental rights enforcement suit he filed in the aftermath of the invasion of his home, awarded N50 million against the police, Army and other security agencies, as compensation for the gross violation of his rights.
Mr Ejiofor said, the court additionally, awarded N2 million as cost for the lawsuit, to be paid to him by the police and Army to Mr Ejiofor.
In the statement entitled, ‘Justice delayed is not always justice denied,’ the lawyer explained that his house was on December 2, 2019, invaded during the burial of his elder brother, Chukwukpelum Ejiofor, by a team of security agents comprising the Nigerian Police and Army.
The lawyer revealed that four persons were killed in his compound, and all the houses within his ancestral home including his brothers’ and neighbouring houses were razed down.
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 and declared Mr Ejiofor wanted.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/135/19, Mr Ejiofor, who filed the suit through his lawyer, Maxwell Okpara, asked 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, 2019.
The defendants in the suit included 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 were the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Mr Ejiofor had, among other prayers, prayed the court to restrain the respondents, their agents, and privies from further harassing, intimidating, threatening his life and destroying his house and other properties.
He also 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 about him made on December 3, 2019. He also asked for an order compelling the police to tender an apology to him in five major newspapers.
The police had on December 3, 2019, declared Mr Ejiofor wanted following the violent incident of the previous day.
In a video message circulated by the police spokesperson in Anambra State, Haruna Mohammed, the then police commissioner in the state, John Abang, had had urged members of the public with any information on Mr Ejiofor’s whereabouts to avail the police or any other security agencies of such information.
“Gentleman, I will like to let Nigerians to know that as we speak, Barrister Ejiofor, an IPOB member and his cohorts have been declared wanted by the command.
“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 had said.
In an accompanying statement to the video, the police message said: “Police in Anambra State have declared wanted one Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor (a member of the proscribed IPOB) and his cohorts over the alleged brutal murder of two police officers in Oraifite yesterday.”
Recall that the police and IPOB traded accusations over the killings.
While the police claimed IPOB members attacked first and killed the two policemen, IPOB and said the police killed two of its members first.
The police said they invaded the apartment following a reported case of abduction there.
Mr Ejiofor is one of the lawyers defending the leader of the proscribed secessionist group,Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, in his treasonable felony trial by the federal government.
Mr Kanu is currently standing a seven-count charge bordering on terrorism and treasonable felony at the Federal High Court in Abuja, after he was re-arrested and repatriated to Nigeria last June.