By Emma Uzoechi
The Anambra State Police Command declared one Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor wanted over his alleged role in the gruesome murder of two senior serving police officers in Oraifite, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra recently.
In a statement on December 2, signed by SP Haruna Mohammed, the Command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO) advised any member of the public with useful information that would lead to the arrest of Ejiofor to urgently assist police with such information.
The two senior police killed during the unfortunate incident were Assistant Commissioner of Police Oliver Inoma-Abbey who before his murder was the Divisional Police Officer, Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra and Assistant Superintendent of Police Joseph Akubo, PMF, SARS and Special Anti-Cult Units in the Ekwusigo council.
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The duo led team of police on official duties to Ifite village, Oraifite when hoodlums suspected to be members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led ambush, attacked the vehicle conveying them and thereafter set their corpse ablaze.
Late Oliver Inoma-Abbey from Bonny Island in Rivers was to be installed Chief and Head of the Abbey-Hart Chieftaincy House of ancient Bonny Kingdom by next year after his retirement slated around April 2020 before he was murdered.
Wife of the late ACP Oliver Abbey, Mrs Rita Inoma-Abbey equally a serving Assistant Commissioner of Police has formally announced the demise of her husband on her Facebook wall, describing the incident as `very painful’.
“This is to officially announce the death of my dear husband ACP Oliver Ibidough Inoma-Abbey. May God alone be praised, He giveth and He taketh, Indeed, God is perfect in all things. Adieu my dear friend, soul mate and husband’’, Rita said.
Godswill Jumbo, an indigene of Bonny said the gruesome murder of Abbey was a huge loss to the Bonny people saying, “Oraifite Community must come and explain to us what happened to our brother, father, uncle and highly respected Chief-elect’’.
Before the violent incident that suddenly made Oraifite a sleeping community in Anambra to be in the news for the wrong reasons, Ejiofor, a legal practitioner by profession was only known for his unholy romance with the IPOB proscribed by the federal Government for its violent activities.
IPOB, a splinter group from the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) was founded by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who went missing abandoning a case of treasonable felony levelled against him by the federal government.
But Ejiofor wearing toga of a legal practitioner, secretly drive IPOB activities, defending members of the group wherever the cause havoc anywhere across the country.
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However, the veil that covered the hidden identity of the Ifite Oraifite-born lawyer whose inordinate ambition to become one of the Biafra Emperors when the dream struggle for Biafra come to fruition was the ugly incidents in Oraifite between December 1 and December 2, 2019.
Ejiofor the seventh out of nine children of late Nwokolie Ejiofor was in Oraifite, his country home for the burial of his uncle Rev. Louis Chukwuemeka Ejiofor who was buried last Friday Nov. 29 and outing service held on Sunday December 1.
As the self acclaimed leader of one of the masquerade group in Oraifite called `Otu Eke of Uto Ube’ which he claimed was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Ejiofor a lawyer graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka who slightly survived third class grade in his first degree, left an order that no other masquerade in town should kit in the same regalia with that of his Otu Eke group.
But his arrogance and dictatorial tendencies resulted to the balkanization of the Otu Eke of Uto Ube masquerade group as the members some of whom are more than 70 years old later formed new masquerade groups called Otu Afor, Otu Orie, Otu Nkwo.
A source from the community said the final straw that broke bthe Carmel back was at burial venue of one Mr John Okafor, a member of Otu Afor group who died and was buried on Saturday Nov. 30, a day after Ejiofor’s uncle Louis was buried.
“During Okafor’s burial ceremony, Otu Afor masquerade appeared in Otube masquerade regalia and this was what sparked off the violence that made Ejiofor set Oraifite community on fire.
“When the signal was sent to Ejiofor that Otu Afor masquerade appeared in Otube regalia, he ordered his boys and violent IPOB members who guards his house to storm the venue of Okafor’s burial and arrest the Otu Afor group members including the masquerade for disobeying his decree.
“Some of the people were taken hostage to Ejiofor’s house and this eventually ignited crisis of monumental magnitude which attracted police and sadly consumed the lives of Abbey and Akubo,” the source said.
According to the source who did not want his name in print, it was when Ejiofor’s boys were publicly de-robbing the masquerade, brandishing machetes, disorganising the burial ceremoney and abducting some of the members of Otu Afor to Ejiofor’s house that police was alerted’’, the source said.
The leader of Otu Afor group whose name was not immediately handy, later reported the matter to Ekwusigo police command, Oraifite so as to rescue the kidnapped members of Otu Afor group.
Following the report, Police Patrol team led by the Area Commander, ACP Inoma-Abbey and Akubo first invited Ejiofor who declined, police invitation forcing the security operatives to later mobilised and rushed to the scene in order to rescue the victims and possibly arrest the suspects.
But unknown to them that the hoodlums were waiting as soon as Police team arrived Ejiofor’s house, armed men suspected to be IPOB members descended on the Police, attacked and set ablaze one Patrol vehicle carrying Inoma-Abbey and Akubo with rifles and machetes.
Ejiofor who had since gone underground in a video clip posted online denied of any complicity in the alleged murder of the senior police officers.
He claimed that what rather happened was a mere conflict involving some locals which police stepped into.
Said he, “on Sunday December 1, I received a telephone call from the Area Commander of Ekwusigo Divisional Police at about 6.30am requesting that I should come to the station.
“Because I was not at home, I assured him that I would be there between 10 and 11am.
“But before 11am, the police came to my house and immediately opened fire resulting to the death of four civilians whose corpses were taken away and set ablaze close to Nkpor junction on Onitsha/Owerri expressway”, he said.
Ejiofor who said it was due to the avalanche of attack in his house and burning of his home that made him to escape to safety, added that he had reported the matter to Nigerian Bar Association ( NBA) Abuja branch and called on international bodies to step into the matter.
“My whole offence is that I am IPOB lawyer who provides quality legal representation to members of the group erroneously proscribed as violent and terrorist group by the federal government.
“We are challenging the proscription at court of appeal as well as rendering quality legal representation to IPOB members across the country and that is our offence”, he claimed.
The Oraifite Improvement Union (OIU), Anambra State however condemned the violence and lawlessness which resulted in the killings of the two senior police officers.
The community equally banned all masquerade groups from ooerating in the community and reiterated the resolve of the leadership of the town to aid efforts by the law enforcement agents to smoke out the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
Sir Sunny Igboanuzue, President General of Oraifite Improvement Union (OIC) his secretary Offor Uche, and the traditional ruler of the Oraifite, HRH Igwe Daniel Udeoji signed the statement on behalf of OIU made available to journalists in Awka.
The statement named the banned masquerades to include: Otu-Eke Otu-Afor, Otu-wo, Otu-Orie and Out-Ube, Otu Ayaka, warning that anybody caught violating the order would be handed over to law enforcement agents.
“The leadership of Oraifite town cannot keep quiet and allow criminal gangs, cultists and miscreants take over the town and tarnish the image of the good people of Oraifite”, the statement noted.
The community stated that what happened on Dec. 2, 2019, leading to the killing of the some men of the Nigerian Police Force was uncharacteristic of Oraifite culture and tradition.
“The acts are condemned without equivocation in its totality. The good and peace-loving people of Oraifite totally dissociate themselves from the acts of the criminals responsible for the abomination.
“The OIU, the Isi Obi of Oraifite, the Obis of Oraifite, the Quarter Chairmen and the entire people will provide full, unrestrained and active support to the Nigerian Police Force and other Law Enforcement Agencies towards a fair and effective investigation of this dastardly act in order to bring all those directly, and indirectly responsible to book”, the community stated.
The statement added that the criminal activities of certain nefarious groups which acted as catalysts to the tragic events of Dec.2 have been proscribed and banished from operating in Oraifite.
Anambra State House of Assembly also condemned the act and urged the state Commissioner of Police, John Abang, to bring to justice the perpetrators of the heinous crime at Oraifite, Ekwusigo.
The lawmakers made their position known in a motion under a matter of urgent public importance moved by Mr Onyebuchi Offor, representing Ekwusigo Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly.
Offor said the incident happened during the burial of Mr John Okafor last Saturday in the area when two known cult groups had fracas which necessitated the Police to invite them for explanation and subsequently the two cult groups declined to honour the invitation.
The Speaker of the House, Mr Uche Okafor, while commiserating with the families of the killed officers and Oraifite people who were injured said the ugly incident was totally bad and assured the people that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
With the position of Oraifite Improvement Union and Anambra lawmakers, it is evident that the critical stakeholders in the area are unhappy with the unfortunate incident in the community.
However, what is now needed is for all and sundry to join hands with the security agents to trace the where about of Ejiofor so that he will help the police in unravelling the truth behind the gruesome murder of Inoma-Abbey and Akubo as that for now is Central for the return of enduring peace in Oraifite.
Dr Emma Uzoechi is Enugu-based Public Affairs Analyst