IGGA autonomous community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu has dragged their traditional ruler, Igwe Herbert Ukuta and Enugu State commissioner of Police Ahmad Abdurrahman, to Court, over alleged violation of the fundamental rights of some of their leaders through threat, harassment and intimidation.
In an application for order of fundamental rights, filed at an Enugu High court by four of their leaders, the community prays the court to restrain the police from arresting, threatening and intimidating their leaders, allegedly, at the prompting of their traditional ruler.
Joined in the suit are their monarch, Igwe Herbert Ukuta, Enugu state Police commissioner, one Inspector Paul Igwe and the Enugu State Government.
The applicants alleged that the harassment and intimidation being meted to them are “wrongful, unlawful and a gross violation of their fundamental rights.”
In the application filed by Anthony Okonkwo, Benedict Okoye, Celestine Nnachetam and Richard Okoye for themselves and on behalf of the Igga community, the applicants said that they decided to approach the court following threats to arrest and detain them, allegedly at the behest of their monarch.
According to them, their offence was that they prevented the monarch and his group from leasing their communal land to a firm, insisting that the entire community be involved in the lease deal and proceeds of the lease agreement go to the entire community.
Their action followed a petition from their monarch and others to the police, accusing them of “obtaining property under false pretences and criminal trespass to land belonging to the Igga, Ojjor and Ogurugu communities”.
Following the petition, the community alleged that the police have “threatened, harassed, intimidated and arrested its members and have continued to do so to the extent that they no longer sleep in their houses for fear of arrest and being dumped in jail”, allegedly at the behest of Mr. Herbert Ukuta and the Enugu State government.
They therefore praying the court for an order declaring that the threats to arrest members of the community is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights to property as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended
They also prayed the court to grant “an order restraining the respondents, their agents, servants, hiring and privies, whosoever or however called or described from further threats, harassments, intimidation and arrest in the circumstances of agreement to sell the aforesaid Udaba Imabolo or Egbeili parcel of land.
They also asked the court to order the respondents to pay them N10 million as “general and exemplary damages” for the violation of fundamental rights of their leaders.