The sitting room of the Enugu State Panel on Police brutality was filled to the brim on Tuesday with indigenes of Obunagu village, Obeagu community, in Enugu South Local Government Area of the State.
ND REPORTERS reports that they were in court over a case filed against two police officers, SP Stanley Kwaphoor and Insp. Garba Alhassan, both of the Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi and one Kingsley Eze of Private Estates International West Africa.
They are being accused of using police powers, intimidation and brutal force to perpetrate fraud.
When the case came up before the Panel, the Counsel to the respondents, Barr. Osinachi Nwoye said his clients have not been served with a copy of the petition.
“My Lord, it was this morning that the pendency of this petition came to our knowledge through an online report, that it was coming before this panel for hearing.
“Our clients were variously mentioned in the petition as contained in the media report, we believe that on the principle of fair hearing, the said petition should be served on our client so we can respond appropriately,” he told the panel.
In his submissions, counsel to the petitioner, Barr. G.A. Ekpo said, “we are not opposed to the application but we are praying the court to order that it should be through the office of the counsel who appeared for them this morning. We don’t know the personal address of these persons.”
The respondents’ counsel did not object to his prayers.
In a ruling, the chairman of the panel, Justice Kingsley Ude, ordered that the petition be served on the respondents through their lawyer and adjourned the case for March 16, 2021.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with journalists after the sitting, members of the community alleged that they had suffered untold hardship in the hands of the respondents.
They said some security agencies had made themselves willing tools in the hands of the respondents.
Those who spoke include the Chairman of the Community’s land committee, and the Secretary Mr. Reuben Nnamani, as well as Elder Christian Okoh.
They lamented that a hitherto civil matter involving the community and the respondents was turned into a criminal matter, to the extent of dragging the Enugu State Commissioner for lands, Dr. Surveyor Chukwuemeka Victor Nnam into the case.
“What we have is a civil matter which has to do with fraudulent acquisition of our ancestral land; the case is even in court but instead of waiting for the judiciary to decide the matter, they are now employing all manner of police brutality against us.
“Even this last weekend they still came and arrested some of our people; as we speak about five are languishing in detention before the latest arrest.
“We have suffered a lot over this matter and that is why we are here begging the panel to save us. They have not even spared the Enugu State Commissioner for lands because he did not support them; they are also harassing him with police and all manner of charges.
“What they are doing is that once you are voicing out against their evil act, they will term you terrorist, kidnapper or armed robber and the next day, the police will come, brutalize and arrest you. The way they are using the police to intimidate us is now unbearable.
“Our humble prayer is that his arbitrary arrest and brutality should stop; this is a civil matter that is already in court, they should be patient enough to allow the court make a pronouncement,” the community said.
Meanwhile, in a petition also addressed to the panel by the Land commissioner, Nnam, through his lawyer, he said it was regrettable that the respondents were launching all manner of attacks against his person because he chose to do his job with utmost honesty.
He maintained in his petition that investigation by his office showed that the acquisition of the land in dispute did not follow due process and that the government had no choice than to revoke the property in overriding public interest.
“We deemed it necessary to forward this appeal to you and humbly pray you to take steps to ensure that the huge body of allegations of the police vis-à-vis the conspiratorial plot to silence the Commissioner because of his principled stance against attempts of powerfully connected land speculators to grab poor people’s lands and sell to other individuals in and outside of government circles in Enugu State, are properly investigated, especially as the actions of SP Stanley Kwaphoor and Insp. Garba Alhassan of the Special Fraud unit, Milverton, Ikoyi suggest that there is more than meets the eye and that the proffered charge may be a small part of a bigger sinister plot to deploy the instrumentality of certain state apparatus for witch hunt and frame up,” his lawyer said in the petition.“
He added that, “it is common knowledge that the fight against corruption does not go without corruption fighting back through the perpetrators. This is the case in this charge as the Private Estate International West Africa Ltd may just have employed the ready and willing hands of SP Stanley Kwaphoor and Insp.
“Garba Alhassan of the Special Fraud unit, Milverton, Ikoyi, as a conduit for the perfection of their alleged fraud and illegality as above adumbrated by the institution of this charge against the serving Commissioner for Lands and Urban development, who in the cause of carrying out his assignment may have stepped on the powerful toes of certain powerful land speculators.
“This is so because, being in the know of the stance of the Executive Governor of Enugu State, not to have in his cabinet, any person who has a criminal charge pending against him or her, before any court of law, as well as appreciating the uncompromising position of Chukwuemeka Nnam towards sanitizing the Enugu State Ministry of Lands and ensuring a reduction in the activities of Land grabbers.”
He prayed the panel “to intervene in this case by requesting a thorough, discreet and unbiased review of the entire case by another section or team of the Nigeria Police Force, such that any case against our Client will be borne on the auspices of its merit and not because the puppet masters, Kingsley Eze and his Private Estates International West Africa Ltd are pulling the strings of SP Stanley Kwaphoor and Insp. Garba Alhassan of the Special Fraud unit, Milverton, Ikoyi into abusing the powers of their office to assassinate the professional character of a man who just wanted to have the right thing done as per the mandate of the Governor, his Principal.”