…how police killed four people in my house – Ejiofor
… Ohanaeze Ndigbo condemns attack
Claims and counter claims have continued to trail the raid on the Orifite home of Bar Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer to the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu by the Anambra State Police Command on Monday which led to the killing of at least four persons and burning down of Mr. Ejiofor’s home.
The Anambra police had in a statement by its PPRO, SP Haruna Mohammed on Monday, said IPOB members burnt one of its patrol vehicles and attacked its men with rifles and machetes at Orifite when they went to respond to formal complaint on “alleged case of abduction, assault occasioning harm and malicious damage to property” against Mr. Ejiofor.
The police said the members of the proscribed pro Biafra group killed two its men and injured many others in the attack.
However, Mr. Ejiofor refuted the claims in a video message yesterday saying that the police had come to his house and immediately began shooting at everything on sight. He said no policeman was killed to the best of his knowledge and that it was the police that killed at least four people and later burnt their corpses in their van.
Ejiofor said he is a law abiding citizen who had no problem with anyone, and was surprised to learn that police officers had visited his home early Monday morning.
“On Sunday, I was called at about 8pm or 9pm by the DPO of Orifite police station. He never passed any message to me. Then, at about 6am on Monday morning, I got a call from my elder brother, Evangelist Emeka Ejiofor, that police have invaded my premises, led by Area Commander himself. I requested to speak with the Area Commander and he obliged” Ejiofor narrated.
“I requested to know why they were in my house because at the time in question I was not in my house. He said they came to arrest one of my wards who participated in a local conflict. He, however, demanded to see me. I told him I was not around but that I would be back around 10:30 to 11am, and that when I come back, I would come personally to see him to know why he was in my house.
“He said he will grant me the request but emphasized that time is of essence; that I should keep to time. I became worried. I came back since 24th of November for my brother’s burial. We stayed till Sunday when we had the outing service, I never had any issue with anybody. I had been indoors receiving sympathisers. So, when I came back around 10 in the morning, I had a brief discussion with my mother. I told her I was going to see the Area Commander to find out why they were in my house. But on a second thought, I decided to go and see my uncle to accompany me to the place. I had just left my house to my uncle’s place, and that moment served as my saving grace in the carnage because their target was me.
” I was on the way to the Area Commander’s office through an unconventional route when got a call from my junior brother that the police were in my house and have opened fire on all living objects in my house.
“I was wondering. I therefore decided to wait. As the carnage proceeded, my brother kept on furnishing me with developments in my house. After two minutes in our discussion, he told me that about four persons had been gunned down in my premises and the entire house was set ablaze my the police. I kept wondering.
“I decided to take refuge in the neighbourhood. As the carnage progressed, the report kept coming as to what led to the atrocities they were committing in my house, including raping people around the area. In the end, they took away the corpses of the four people they killed in my house in their own van to a place called Nkwo Orifite along Onitsha – Owerri Road, burnt them in their vehicle and left. That’s what transpired.
“However, when I read the police report yesterday, I was shocked to my marrow.
“I was informed upon further investigation that the people behind the carnage in my house were, one, a controversial business man in Orifite who has has built library and schools in Katsina. That he had promised the Fulani caliphate that his is the only one that will see to my killing. If the intention of those who came to my house were to arrest me, they would only demand to see me and I will go there. But they are only interested in killing me and getting me out of the way. The government is seeing me as a thorn in their flesh because I am defending members of the IPOB.”
Following Mr. Ejiofor’s own side of the story, the police consequently on Tuesday, named two officers allegedly killed on Monday by the suspected IPOB members during the raid.
The police said the officers were Joseph Akubo and Oliver Abbey.
According to the police spokesperson, Mr Akubo was an assistant superintendent attached to the the special anti robbery squad, while Mr Abbey, an assistant commissioner, was the area commander in charge of Oraifite.
IPOB, however, came out with own statement denying the allegation. The proscribed group said it was the police that killed two of its personnel and destroyed Mr Ejiofor’s home.
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo sociocultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned the attack on Mr Ejiofor’s home.
Ohanaeze president-general, Chief Nnia Nwodo who condemned the incident in a statement on Tuesday called for a judicial inquiry into the “unprovoked attack on a law-abiding citizen of the country whose only crime is that he peacefully objects to the maltreatment of his people”.
Chief Nwodo, in the statement issued on his behalf by by his media adviser, Emeka Attamah, described the accusations levelled by the police against Mr Ejiofor as “spurious.”
“Assuming without conceding that Barrister Ejiofor was culpable on a charge of abduction, the only option in law available to the police is arrest and prosecute him under the laws of Nigeria and not deliberate arson and wanton destruction of his family home,” he said.
Nwodo said even before its “wrongful proscribing”, IPOB had never been a violent group and could not have summoned enough force to attack and kill any policemen to warrant drafting in a reinforcement.
Mr Nwodo also frowned at “a situation where any mild expression of dissent against the manifest injustice being perpetrated against a particular ethnic group in the country will be met with maximum force by the Federal Government.”
He called for a “halt to the apparent and incessant physical, economic and political harassment of Ndigbo in a country watered with their blood and who have striven to keep and grow the country with their presence in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.”