Nigeria: Release Labor Activists
Investigate Unlawful Raid on Union Meeting in Enugu
(Lagos) – Nigerian authorities should immediately release labor union leader Osmond Ugwu and union member Raphael Elobuike, and drop all charges, given the glaring lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case against them, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and 33 Nigerian civil society organizations said today in a joint statement. The authorities should investigate state involvement in breaking up a peaceful union meeting and arresting the union activists in violation of the right to freedom of association and assembly, the groups said.
Enugu govt faults rights group’s statement on detained labour leaders
By Tony Edike
ENUGU- Enugu State government has faulted statement credited to Amnesty International and other human rights bodies that it was responsible for incarceration and trial of labour leaders, Osmond Ugwu and Raphael Elobuike, saying such claims were unfounded.
The government also dismissed as “totally baseless and mischievous” reports by some media organisations that it had set up special tribunals to try anti-subsidy removal activists.
The government was reacting to reports in some national dailies that Amnesty International and others were demanding immediate release of Ugwu and Elobuike, and that the government should drop all charges against them for want of evidence.
A statement by Chukwudi Achife, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Sullivan Chime, said the government was appalled at the way facts relating to the activists’ case had been misrepresented, stressing that the duo were being remanded and prosecuted before a court of competent jurisdiction with respect to a case they had with the police authorities in Enugu and not the state government.
The government added that the charge of attempted murder arose from the accused person’s alleged attack on a police officer that had resulted in severe injuries to the latter.
According to the government, the case involving the labour leaders is a matter that can only be resolved by the court before which they are being tried.
The governor’s spokesman expressed surprise that the rights bodies could be asking the government to usurp the functions of the judiciary when they should be talking about raising a good legal team to prove the innocence and secure the release of the accused persons in the proper manner.
Achife further denied that a special tribunal to try protesters existed in the state, saying it was an invention by some sections of the media either “out of ignorance or mischief” as the court that handled the case was a regular Magistrate Court.
He stressed that the Chime administration had notably remained consistent in its submission to the rule of law and had exhibited an uncommon interest in the improvement of the welfare of workers.
He said some of the government’s critics had found it difficult to appreciate its unwillingness to compromise such principles.
Source: Vanguard, 19th January 2012.
Enugu landlord, tenant in 15 -year tussle over parcel of land
From PETRUS OBI, Enugu
The reprieve that came the way of Mr Sunday Ejiole Ude who is based in the United Staes on June 15 this year in the battle to reclaim his land that was rented out to a tenant, Mr and Mrs K.B. Ude, may after all be momentary as Mrs Ude’s lawyers have applied for stay of execution of the judgment delivered by the Enugu High Court.
The Enugu High court has adjourned till November 23 to hear an application for stay of execution of judgment of the same court in the 15-year-old land dispute.
The tenants, Mr and Mrs K.B Ude, had allegedly taken the land said to belong to Mr. Sunday Ejiole Ude on lease for the purpose of moulding blocks.
They were, however, said to have started claiming ownership of part of the land by the time Sunday who lives abroad returned to commence projects on the land.
In a judgment delivered on June 15 this year, Hon. Justice A. R Ozoemena reinstated Sunday Ude as the rightful owner of the land.
However, in response to the judgment, the defendants filed for stay of execution of the judgment.
But, when the matter came up for hearing on November 9, counsel to the defendants, Barrister. Okafor from Anthony Ani Chambers asked for more time to file all necessary applications.
Although counsel to the plaintiff, Okechukwu Ugolo (SAN) had pointed out unnecessary delay by the defense counsel; Justice Ozoemena adjourned the matter till November 23.
Narrating how the problem started, Mr Sunday Ude from Alachara Mgbowo in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State said he did not foresee any problem when he was leasing his portion of land to Mr K.B. Ude and wife, Mrs Evelyn Ude.
He narrated how he bought the large portion of land in 1992, handed it over to his brother Godwin.
“I live abroad and gave my brother, Godwin Ejiole the land to take care. Godwin on his part gave out the land to the family of Mr and Mrs Ude because they wanted to use part of it because it is a big land for block industry. Everything went on very well; tenancy agreement was prepared by a lawyer and rent was paid,” he said.
In 1995, Sunday recalled that they wanted to take possession of the land for development; and that his wife actually came back purposely for that.
But he said that Mrs Ude pleaded that she be given six months to adjust herself , adding that surprisingly at the expiration of the six months she started claiming ownership of the land.
His words: “What she did was that she divided the land the way she wanted, and occupied one part till date. Well, we looked for ways to let her vacate the land, but she was getting cover from some people in government then.
“So, we went to Nike people, the original owners of the land who set up an arbitration which was headed by the late Justice Nnaemeka Agu; they gave judgment.
“Nike people also sent letter to the then Commissioner of Police and they made investigations and found out that the land belongs to Ejiole Ude; but this woman will not budge.
“She started building houses there, court intervened, police intervened, but she was using people in government and they even used force.
“At a time they even sent one of my brothers to detention over the land. Eventually, we went to court and the court took its time and was about to give judgment, that was Justice Agbata, one of her brothers wrote a petition against the judge, and the case was transferred to a new judge.
“This new judge, the pressure was coming, but he stayed until the judgment. Apart from all the documents: I have C of O, I have deed of sale, I have letter from Nike people, receipt, and everything about that land I have it.
“Late Justice Nnameka Agu even testified at the court that after the arbitration, that Nike people wrote that the land belongs to the Ejioles. The court closed the case, gave judgment and gave me my land.
“But the woman who would not be deterred after that judgment went ahead to lease the land again to another company.”
Sunday said he decided to cry out because of the unnecessary frustration coming out from his land
He argued that if he did not have the wherewithal or not an Enugu indigene, he may have lost his land.
“Is this the society we are supposed to be proud of? Is this the society that is supposed to protect everybody?
“I want to make sure that all the institutions in this state are aware of this case; they should wake up to the problems of the common man.
“I want the world to hear about the injustice, and this situation where a human being feels he can trample on anybody and go scot free. But I believe that there is human justice and there is God’s justice,” he said.
In her defense at the court, Mrs. Ude claimed ownership of part of the land marked I.D.7.
“I am not a tenant of the plaintiff. I have an agreement with one Godwin Ejiole (brother to the plaintiff). He bought the I.d.6 while I bought I.D.7. I bought from the late Igwe Edward Nnaji, the Odezuligbo of Nike. He gave me receipt when I bought the land in 1996. I was given a temporary receipt because I did not finish my payment,” she said.
But in his judgment on June 15 this year, Justice A. R. Ozoemena declared the plaintiff as the title holder to the statutory Right of Occupancy of the land.
According to the judge, the defendant has no legal right whatsoever to develop or build on the land in dispute known as plots I.D.6 and I.D.7.
He also declared that the foundation dug on the land in dispute, and the construction works going on or already completed by the defendants on the said land without the consent or approval of the plaintiff are illegal and act of trespass.
He granted an order evicting the defendants from the land as well as a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from entering the land. `
Mrs. Ude, whose lawyer in the case, Barrister Anthony Ani, is now the Attorney-General of the state is reported to have filed for stay of execution of the judgment.
Source: Sun, 16th November 2011.
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