A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and leading human rights crusader, Femi Falana, has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the alleged scandalous use of police officers attached to the Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS) by a controversial prominent government contractor, Emeka Offor, against his people of Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State.
In a petition written last week and signed by Sam Ogala, a lawyer in Mr. Falana’s law firm, the human rights lawyer accused Mr. Emeka Offor of “using the police hierarchy to commit monumental and scandalous human rights abuses against his own kinsmen.” The letter was addressed to Police Inspector General Mohammed D. Abubakar, NHRC Chairman Anselm Odinkalu, and PSC Chairman Mike Okiro, a former Inspector General of Police.
Mr. Falana’s law firm stated that Mr. Offor’s latest gross abuse of his folks’ basic rights took place last weekend when some officers and men of the Anambra State SARS headquarters at Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area arrested Eugene Nworah, an Onitsha-based businessman from Oraifite. Mr. Nworah’s arrest reportedly followed his public complaint to the Oraifite people that Mr. Offor had deliberately caused the Customs Service to seize his nine 40-foot containers with goods worth N970 million on trumped up charges.
“As a result of this seizure,” wrote Mr. Nworah in an online report, “I was crippled financially through the machination of someone I confided in as a brother, friend and townsman.”
According to the petition against Mr. Offor, he had earlier caused SARS officers to arrest three brothers named Ifeanyi, Chinedu and Tochukwu Igboanuzue, all businessmen in Lagos, over a family disagreement following the death of their sister, Joy, a devout Anglican Christian who died in controversial circumstances on December 5, 2013, and was buried in their hometown on March 21.
“Offor’s interest in the matter is that these siblings dared to disagree with their brother, Sunday Igboanuzue, who is Offor’s Man Friday.
“SARS personnel not only arrested these brothers who were mourning the tragic loss of their dear sister who died at an early age, but also went after a popular and charismatic pastor, Agu Udor, from neighboring Ozubulu town whom they consulted for spiritual succor, and even forced him under duress to admit that the three brothers were in error in opposing their brother.”
All three men were arrested in December and were held till March when the Anambra State High Court in Nnewi ordered their release.
But soon after they breathed the air of freedom, Mr. Offor caused the police to re-arrest them, charging them with murder at the Ozubulu Magistrate Court, according to the petition from Mr. Falana’s law firm.
The petition also alleged that Mr. Offor had masterminded the SARS arrest and torture of Comrade Bonny Okonkwo, an international businessman from Oraifite, who was reportedly abducted in Lagos on July 17, 2013, and detained in Abuja till August 23 when Chief Magistrate Dahiru of the Kubwa Court in the Federal Capital Territory ordered his release.
Mr. Okonkwo’s offence was the “publication of a so-called disrespectful article against Emeka Offor in an online website of Oraifite people called Mbala Obodo.”
Mr. Falana’s law firm accused Mr. Offor of instigating SARS officers in Nnewi to arrest one Ifeanyi Nwokolo, an Nnewi-based businessman, and his cousin, Muozube, also based in Nnewi, who were feuding over the ownership of a piece of land near Offor’s country home at Oraifite.
The petition stated that Mr. Offor, “a supposed knight of the Anglican Church who acquired a third wife only last January 3 at a public show in his village, caused SARS men to arrest in January four members of the Ayaka Cultural Group, accusing them of cultism and detaining them till March, 2014, when the court ordered their release.”
The petition noted that Mr. Offor had two years earlier used the police to disrupt the annual New Yam Festival of the Ezumeri community under the pretext that the feast was being held without police permit, but the real reason was that he wanted to humiliate certain distinguished people from the area, especially Chuks Muomah, the first SAN from Oraifite.
The petition added that Mr. Offor, a mere private citizen, has been able to use the police so blatantly against his own people since Mr Abubakar assumed the leadership of the police.
“This reckless and unconscionable use of the police to commit gross human rights abuses and other heinous crimes tends to give both Nigerian citizens and the international community the impression that Nigeria is a weak state, if not a failed one,” the petition stated.
The petition asked the police authorities not to accept the area command office which Mr. Offor is allegedly building for the police in his hometown because “the facility will definitely end up as a house of torture for everyone in Oraifite who may disagree with the controversial government contractor on any issue.
“If he could currently use SARS so recklessly to hound, harass, detain and torture a number of his people over civil issues,” the petition argued, “no one can imagine what will happen to innocent and law abiding citizens when an entire police command is located in his own house through his so-called benevolence.”