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ORAIFITE MURDERS: Tension amid police manhunt for IPOB lawyer

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…My story, by Ejiofor; seeks probe of incident

By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka

Anambra State branch of the Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, and the embattled lawyer of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, have called for the setting up of panel of inquiry to look into last week’s incident at Oraifite in Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra State in which two police officers, an Assistant Commissioner, ACP, and an Assistant Superintendent, ASP, lost their lives.

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IPAC, through its newly elected Chairman, Evangelist Isaac Onuka, said it was greatly pained by the gory incident, lamenting that the police officers were on active service when they met their untimely death.

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, Onuka regretted that the Oraifite incident also led to the destruction of lives and properties.

“This is very detestable in a sane society and it is unacceptable. Anambra is a peaceful and law- abiding state and we cannot allow nefarious elements to put the state in a situation of insecurity”, he said

“We ask Anambra State government to immediately set up a high calibre investigative team to look into the case and bring the perpetrators to justice. Justice must be done to serve as a deterrent to others”.

He, however, called for calm on the side of the Nigeria Police and those affected by the incident to allow government deal with the situation decisively.

Narrating his experience on the day of the incident, Ejiofor, whose house was set ablaze following the killing of the policemen in his compound, urged the international community, including the Amnesty International, to probe the incident at Ifite Oraifite on the fateful day.

While expressing grief over the incident, Ejiofor said it was unfortunate that so much falsehood was being peddled over the matter.

Going down memory lane, he said: “On that Sunday, policemen led by the Area Commander came to my house around 6am. I wished to know why they were in my house and he said it was in connection with some people who participated in a local conflict.

“I told him I was going somewhere and that when I returned, I would come personally to the station to find out what happened. He, however, emphasized that time was of essence and that statement made me to become worried.

“I came home to bury my brother and from that Friday when the burial took place to Sunday, I never stepped out of my house and I never had any issue with anybody.

“I told my mother that I was going to see the Area Commander. However, on a second thought, I decided to first of all see my uncle and it was that visit that served as a saving grace because, as I was going to the Area Commander’s office through another route, the police were already in my house firing gun shots.

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“From there, I turned back and escaped to save my life. It was my brother that was briefing me of what was happening in my house and it was then I learnt that four persons had been gunned down in my house.

“I was confused and wondered what was going on. The police set my house ablaze and other houses near my compound. So, I took refuge within the neighbourhood. In the end, they took away the four copses and took away their men that were killed to Nkwo Oraifite along Onitsha-Owerri expressway and burnt all of them in their vehicle and left”.

He said further: “The ACP came to my house about 6.00am and I promised him that I was going to be with him by 10am. So how come he said that someone laid a complaint against me at about the same time that same day? Assuming someone laid a complaint against me, was that sufficient enough to come to my house to fire at people and set houses ablaze?

“As a lawyer, I could not have run away from the police as we have been working together. The police describe me as a gentleman lawyer and so why should they do this to me? If the intention of the police was to arrest me, there would not have been any need to fire gunshots.

“Even if I did not want to go to the police, they have many ways of reaching me. I have the feeling they were only interested in getting me out of the way.

“Perhaps they see me as a thorn in their flesh because I am defending IPOB. I always represent IPOB any where they have a case and I don’t know where I have gone wrong by doing that.

“I don’t know whether it is an offence to be a lawyer for IPOB. I also want NBA to investigate this matter. If my house could be attacked in this manner, nobody in the South-East could be spared.”

In the meantime, Anambra State Police Command said it had obtained warrant of arrest for Ejiofor, who it described as a suspected member of the proscribed IPOB, over alleged cases of conspiracy, murder, treasonable felony, arson and armed robbery.

Ejiofor had not been arrested at press time, but tension had enveloped Ifite Oraifite as the area looked deserted.

In fact, the sight of any unfamiliar face in the community sent jitters around the people and they usually run towards the bush, apparently for fear of being arrested.

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Another twist to the Oraifite incident was the decision of community’s leaders to ban masquerade groups which the leaders claimed were responsible for the unfortunate incident. In their statement which they circulated in Anambra, no mention of IPOB was made, which was an indication that the issue that led to the death of the police officers might, after all, not be connected with IPOB, except that the principal character in the saga happened to be a lawyer representing IPOB in its court cases across the country.

Vanguard

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