Ifeanyi Ejiofor is a lawyer, a human right activist, over nineteen years post call who has wide exposure to legal practice and litigation. By the grace of God, a senior advocate of the masses, the defender of the defenseless and oppressed. I live a simple lifestyle.
In an exclusive interview with Arabella Star Magazine, the lawyer spoke about his experience being IPOB lawyer and Nnamdi Kanu in particular. Below are excerpts:
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Is there more to being a good general council than just following the law?
“We have several aspects of the law, but we specialize in commercial, criminal and civil law, and we have been doing justice to it since I was called to bar as a lawyer.
“From the moment I was called to bar till this time, I have not ceased one day from practicing law, and this has helped me a lot in achieving a lot in this discipline.”
Some say that if Nnamdi Kanu wins the Nigerian government, it will be the best chance of Biafra gaining more grounds as a democratic society, would you agree with that?
“Concerning the case we have at hand, winning the federal government is a concluded issue because I know that we are going to win them in court, we have won them before severally because Nnamdi Kanu has not committed any offence against the law.
“He has not done anything wrong by asking for his right and that of his people, this is a right guaranteed under our law, a people asking for their sovereignty or a state are acting within the confines of the law.
“I have been into IPOB case since 2015, and I have won over 1,000 cases against the federal government, and we are going to win them again.”
What is your relationship with Nnamdi Kanu?
“Nnamdi Kanu is my client, I act in dual capacity in managing IPOB cases. I am a personal lawyer to Nnamdi Kanu on one hand, and a lawyer to IPOB as an organization. That will tell you the he is special to me.”
What is it like to be a lawyer to IPOB?
“I don’t think there is anything difficult about it. What I can assure you is that when you are in this kind of situation, it’s up to you to identify what you want and how to go about it.
“It doesn’t go without threats, but when God is in control, nothing will go wrong. I have been attacked several times, and there has been multiple attempts on my life but God saved me because I have been upright and decisive in my legal steps and have not compromised. It is when you take prejudiced steps that you run the risk of being set up.
“It is God who has been protecting us, even against some evil and lawless security agents in our country. In June 2021, my house in the village was invaded by Nigerian security agents, and my PA was murdered in cold blood, taken into my car and taken somewhere to be burnt.
“I was in the house when this happened, but wasn’t attacked, this was denied by the security agencies but it was captured on security camera which was played in court and I got a judgement against them.
“Three of my staff were also abducted on that day, and we eventually got information that they were detained in SSS headquarters, I had to write to demand for their release and they corresponded. These are some of the sacrifices you pay in the cause of defending your people.
“If I wasn’t involved in IPOB case, I may not be exposed to that kind of situation, but that will not deter me because I know I am pursuing a just cause. And I believe that my stewards who were arrested during that operation will be freed. These are just some of the things we pass through in the cause of managing these cases but we know that God is with us.”
Being the IPOB lawyer, do you believe in the ideology?
“Everybody within the Nigerian have a right to self-determination, every tribe can choose to exercise their right, and if the IPOB says they no longer want to be part of the nation, the government should take them serious and determine ways to approach their demands, by engaging a discussion with them and understand where they are coming from.
“The government should have listened to their demands and see the possibility of meeting those demands instead of going after them and killing them. In May 2016, over 28 persons were killed and Nnamdi Kanu’s house was invaded in September 2017, and innocent citizens who were not armed were murdered.
“The atrocities committed against the people is in the public domain. The ideology cannot be killed by anybody. They are only fueling the agitation to continue by illegally detaining Nnamdi Kanu.”
In the past few months, there has been a lot of unrest in the South East, especially in Imo state where houses are being burnt, with accusations that IPOB is responsible, what measures has IPOB taken to dissociate themselves from these attacks?
“This is a very important question. Shortly after the abduction of my client, he was tortured and beaten and subjected to all manner of evil treatment, there was a protest in reaction to the manner in which he was treated.
“In situations such as this, you will see people who would take advantage of this situation to foment trouble and carry out their own crime, they claim to be active members of IPOB. I issued several statements on my social media handles on behalf of Nnamdi Kanu, with his directive after discussing with him. IPOB also volunteered to be part of the investigation to apprehend these criminals.
“One thing about security is that when situations like that happen, there is need to get people at the local level involved, traditional rulers and those who are in the system. It is those who live in a particular setting that can easily identify someone who is a criminal or engaging in suspicious activities.
“But Imo state is an exceptional case in the sense that the government of Imo state is also assisting in creating civil unrest and problems in the state.
“I issued a statement few days ago about what is happening in Imo state, there you see those that they call security outfits created by the Imo state government, along with soldiers, SSS and police, they will be killing people without profiling them and they have killed over 500 persons there.
“I am handling the case in court against the Imo state government, and I am going to the international criminal court against the Imo state government.
“There is what we call rules of engagement, it entails that if you are going after a person who is identifies as a criminal, you are not supposed to kill other people around him, but you identify him, apprehend him, and not in the cause of pursuing him start killing everybody around him, it is crime against humanity.
“In their response to my press statement, the commissioner for information was struggling to defend the obvious, saying that the state government is not aware of what is going on.
“As far as I am concerned, Hope Uzodinma is the governor of Imo state today, by the virtue of his positon, he is the chief security officer of the state, if there is any security breach in the state, or any crime committed by the security agents, he is going to be held responsible. He is supposed to identify and produce those who are involved.
“They have succeeded in burning over one hundred houses in Orlu axis, what do those houses have to do with the crime they are fighting? The state is not helping the situation at all, the state is actually creating insecurity in the state. Look at other states, we have Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi states, we have not seen that kind of escalation of crisis in those other states.
“I am not trying to exonerate the fact that there are people who are criminals and I am not trying to protect them, but in other states, security agents get involved to apprehend criminals, after profiling and identifying their targets.
“Someone called me at about 5am some days ago, to alert me about what is happening in a place in Imo state, they were still burning houses there.
“Is there any justification under the law to go after innocent civilians and their properties, people are being killed in the streets, farms and houses? The governor will answer to the international criminal court, and also other people who are towing the same path.
“We are still collecting our evidences and facts, it is genocide that is going on in Imo state and it is a crime against humanity.”
Do you think that the Nigerian judiciary is under any siege?
“The system is corrupt, though we still have good ones among them, both in the executive and legislation.
“The few ones who are faithful and courageous are being intimidated and oppressed, even the custodian general of the court of appeal, his house was invaded by the EFCC, the presiding judge of the court of appeal was invaded by the executives.
“I agree with you that the judicial system is under siege. Many serious cases are treated with levity, and some are working under fear.
“The security agents once invaded the court during a case, in an attempt to scare the judge, that hasn’t happened before in the history of judiciary, so we can say correctly that the judiciary is under siege.”