Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The Enugu State Police Brutality and Extra-Judicial Killings Panel yesterday adjourned to March 16 for hearing in the petition brought by the State Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Dr. Chukwuemeka Nnam 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 Limited.
The Panel sitting room witnessed unusual crowd as natives of Obunagu village, Obeagu community, in Enugu South Local Government of the State stormed the panel to witness the proceeding on the matter which they were said to be the major victims.
The petitioner had accused the respondents of “Abuse of police powers and the use of the instrument of state to perpetuate forced regime change in the Enugu State Ministry of Lands.”
They were also accused of using police powers, intimidation and brutal force to perpetrate fraud.
But when the petition was called up at the Panel, Mr. Osinachi Nwoye who said he was the Counsel to Kingsley Eze, Chamberlin Mbachu and Private Estates International West Africa Limited, told the Panel that his clients have not been served with a copy of the petition.
He said, “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.”
Replying, counsel to the petitioner, Mr. Godfrey Ekoh 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 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.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the sitting, natives of the community lamented that they had suffered untold hardship in the hands of the respondents.
Chairman of the Community’s land committee, and the Secretary Mr. Reuben Nnamani and Elder Christian Okoh, noted 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. Nnam into the case.
They said, “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.
“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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the Lands Commissioner, Nnam, in the petition said 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.