Some indigenes of Igga Autonomous Community, in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, have approached a High Court sitting in Enugu State seeking protection against alleged harassment and intimidation by their traditional ruler, Igwe Herbert Ukuta.
Also joined in the suit No E/442/2020, as defendants are one Inspector Paul Igwe, the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State and the Attorney General of Enugu State.
The natives- Anthony Okonkwo, Benedict Okoye, Celestine Nnachetam and Richard Okoye are asking the Court to stop the defendants from further harassing them.
They filed a motion on notice brought pursuant to Order 2 Rule 1,2,3,4 and 5 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure, Rules, 2009 and Section 34 (1), 35, 43 and 46 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
The claimants sought a declaration that “the threat, harassment and intimidation of the applicants by the 2nd and 3rd respondents at the behest of the 1st and 4th respondents are wrongful, unlawful and a gross violation of the Fundamental rights of the applicants as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as amended).
“A declaration that the threats to arrest and detain the applicant by the 2nd and 3rd respondents at the behest of the 1st and 4th respondents unless they comply with the directive to return the proceeds of the agreement to sell the Udaba Imabolo or Egbili parcel of land situate, lying and being at Igga Autonomous Community of Uzo- Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State are wrongful, unlawful and amounted to an arm twisting of the applicants and a gross violation of the applicants fundamental right to property as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“An order of the honourable court restraining the respondents, their agents, servants, hirings and privies, whosoever or however called or described from further threats, harassments, intimidation and arrests in the circumstances of the agreement to sell the aforesaid Udaba Imabolo or Egbili parcel of land.
“An order of this honourable court for the payment of ten million naira as general and exemplary damages against the 1st and 4th respondents and in favour of the applicants for violating the fundamental rights of the applicants.”
Also in a 5-page written address by their counsel, Chief Okenna Agubuzu, the indigenes reiterated their claims that “they have been directed to return, reject, and refuse money already accepted by them,” stressing that such directive “creates the impression that they are sub-human beings.”
Meanwhile, enquiries by ND REPORTERS revealed that trouble had started following a petition addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State, accusing the plaintiffs and some other members of the community, of illegally selling some portion of land belonging to three communities – Igga, Ojjor and Ogurugu of Uzo-Uwani Council Area.
The petition was addressed to the police from the Chambers of Ikeyi Ogakwu on behalf of Igwe Herbert Ukuta, the traditional ruler of Igga Community, Amuche Raphael, the President-General of Igga Community, His Royal Highness, Igwe Emmanuel Umunna, the traditional ruler of Ojjor Community, His Royal Highness, Igwe Emmanuel Egwuaba of Ogurugu community, among others.
They termed the action of the plaintiffs “obtaining goods or property by false,” stressing “it is a crime where an individual makes misrepresentation in order to obtain the property of another.”