By Emma Amaize
•Reports to IGP how 3 suspects trailed him in unmarked motorcycle•EFCC probes alleged fraud, arrests treasurer, freezes CMTOADS account
•Frightened officials run into hiding
WARRI—EXECUTIVE Director, Centre for the Vulnerable and Underprivileged, CENTREP, Delta State, and rights activist, Oghenejabor Ikimi (Esq.) has cried out to the Inspector General of Police, IGP, over supposed threats to his life by officials and task force members of the Commercial Motorcycle and Tricycle Operators Association, CMTOADS, Delta State.
3 young men trailed me: Ikimi, a solicitor to the National Commercial Motorcycle and Tricycle Owners and Riders Association, NATOMORAS, which filed a lawsuit against CMTOADS and petitioned to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, concerning alleged fraud, in an SOS, dated March 17 to the IGP, they said: “On Thursday, March 16, 2017 while returning from the High Court, Otor-Udu at about 11:00am after court business, I was accosted by three unknown young men on an unmarked motorcycle, dressed on black shirts and trousers, by the Railway Line, along Udu/Ujevwu Road, in Ovwian.”
“The three young men blocked my car by the railway, pointing at me that I wrote a petition against their president and their executives to the EFCC, threatening that they would deal with me as they already know my office and where I reside,” he asserted. The popular Warri-based lawyer added: “As a result of the above, I went to the Nigeria Police Station, Ovwian, same day to incident the above threat, after I had fully recovered from the said shock.” He stated that his life was in danger and requested the police boss to order an independent investigation into his complaint.
Confrontation in court premises: Prior to the above threat, he said that a deputy president of CMTOADS, on March 15, 2017, at the premises of High Court in Warri, rudely interrupted the state secretary of NATOMORAS, Mr. Abedenego Awha, telling him that the association was collating information about Comrade Godwin Ikolo, a top NATOMORAS official and him (Ikimi) for having the impunity to expose the leaders of the union to the EFCC.
He said the official, Charles, told Awha: “CMTOADS officials have been holding various meetings in Asaba, Delta State for some days now to decide what they will do to the said persons and the association for writing a petition against them to the EFCC.”
The lawyer said the official threatened Mr. Awha that “they would resort to jungle justice in fighting back in order to silence them (he and NATOMARAS officials) permanently, as the courts with their unnecessary adjournments may be too slow to achieve the necessary quick action.”
He said that he believed Mr. Awha, who briefed him about the encounter when he returned from the court and consequently, went to the Nigeria Police Station, “A” Division, Warri, to lodge a report.
Underhand conspiracy: Ikimi stated: “I am not a member of NATOMARAS, but hired as a counsel by the said association to discharge my professional duties for them,” adding: “This petition has become necessary due to the state of insecurity and cases of unresolved assassinations nationwide coupled with the desperate nature of the CMTOADS and their task force members, who are prepared to engage the use of any dirty tactics and unconventional methods, including blackmail or assassinations to suppress the on-going investigation by EFCC.”
He recalled that two practicing lawyers and human rights activists, Messrs. Horris Dafiagho and Samuel Ekuwaju, were eliminated sometime in March, 2014 by unknown gunmen on their way to the High Court, Ozoro, in similar circumstances while discharging their professional duties to their clients, adding: “The above assassination till date is yet to be resolved by our security agencies.”
EFCC freezes CMTOADS account
He affirmed that he, indeed, wrote a petition on behalf of his client to the Commissioner of Police, Delta state, September, last year, after the Commissioner for Transport, his officials and members of CMTOADS, aided by some armed policemen, unlawfully seized over 100 tricycles belonging to his client and forwarded another to the EFCC, October, last year, over the “misuse, misapplication and misappropriation of the proceeds from the welfare ticket by officials of CMTOADS, tax consultant union to the state government.”
The lawyer disclosed that based on the petition, EFCC invited CMTOADS executives and others to respond, following which the account of the union was frozen by EFCC and some officials, including the treasurer were arrested. He said the intervention of EFCC angered officials of CMTOADS and their cohorts, including members of their task force, which was why they were after him.
Hide and seek: NDV was reliably informed that since EFCC launched investigations into activities of CMTOADS, fear has enveloped some top officials, who went into hiding, rather than answer the invitation of the anti-graft agency to report at its office.CMTOADS official debunks claim