Prominent pro-democracy and Not-for-profit body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has applauded the landmark decision of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) to drop pending charges alleging official misconduct relating to land allocations hitherto instituted against the serving Enugu State Commissioner for Land and Urban development Surveyor Chukwemeka Nnam before a Federal High Court.
Addressing a media conference on the news of the withdrawal of all charges against the Enugu State’s Land and Urban development Commissioner by the office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the Rights group said the decision was particularly commendable given that the Rights group had previously appealed to the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice to bring the apparent politically motivated witch-hunt against the Commissioner to a quick end.
HURIWA recalled that in a recent letter of appeal titled : “RE: CHARGE NO: FHC/EN/CR/33/2020: HONOURABLE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHOULD NOT ALLOW INJUSTICE AND FRAME UP” datedDecember 10th 2020, the civil rights advocacy group had informed the Federal Attorney General as follows:
“Sir, we are writing to your good offices regarding the politically motivated persecution of the serving Commissioner for Land and Urban development Dr. Surveyor Chukwemeka Nnam (the defendant in the above referenced charge) who shall hereinafter be referred to as a victim of police harassment and frame up based on groundswell of information we amassed from reliable sources on ground in Enugu State.
As patriotic Nigerians that have been in the forefront of advocacy interventions through series of strategic investigations, we deemed it necessary to forward this appeal to you and we pray that you take steps to ensure that the huge body of allegations of police conspiratorial plots to silence the Commissioner because of his principled stand against attempts of powerfully connected.
The Rights group submitted that: “Respectfully Sir, we write to specially appeal for your intervention in charge No: FHC/ENCR/33/2020 wherein this gentleman who is the serving Commissioner for Land and Urban development is charged with an eight count charge and which charge is a ploy and an antic by some desperate individuals within the Enugu municipal and its environs to perfect their grand scheme and illegal activities and vendetta against the Commissioner, who as the commissioner for lands, Enugu State is strongly determined to sanitize the Ministry of Lands and curb or possibly eradicate illegal land dealings in Enugu State which has over the years occastioned a lot of crisis within the state resulting in multiple court cases.”
The Rights group had alleged that the case that has been dropped is not unconnected with the Land and Urban development Commissioner’s alleged INVOLVEMENT IN THE REGISTRATION OF ARUGA LAYOUT whilst he was in private practice as a Surveyor before he got appointed as commissioner in Enugu State.
HURIWA had said that “according to our reliable sources, sometimes in the year 2017 while he the Commissioner was carrying on his private practice as a registered Surveyor, he was approached by the representatives of Obunagu village of Obeagu community in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State in the company of their counsel Gab Ogbe Esq. as well as one Honourable member of the Enugu State House of Assembly Hon. Paul Ogbe with a request on him to assist in the registration of their already parceled layout name Aruga Layout with the state Ministry while accepting the brief, the man who is now a commissioner of Lands and urban development handed over to the said representatives of the village above mentioned a list of the requirements necessary for the registrations of the layout with the Enugu State Ministry of Lands which requirements include but not limited to a Newspaper publication of the intended registration, affidavits of facts to be sworn by the representatives of the village among a host of other requirements.”
“Following the above and upon the satisfaction of the requirements as contained in the list handed over to the representatives of the said village, all the documents necessary for the registration of the said Aruga Layout on behalf of the Obunagu Village of Obeagu Community were reportedly submitted to the then Private Surveyor’s office by Hon. Paul Ogbe and one Mr. John Onyechi both of whom were facilitating for and representing the Obunagu Village of Obeagu Community.”
“It was upon the receipt of the documents so required for the registration of the layout and having certified the documents as being complete and regular on the face of it, that he Chukwiemeka Nnam after the expiration of the twenty-one days period as contained in the Newspaper publication proceeded with his brief and successfully registered the layout on behalf of the entire Obunagu Village of Obeagu Community with the Enugu State Ministry of Lands.”
THE ACTUAL BACKGROUND/ IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE CASE IN CHARGE NO: FHC/EN/CR/33/2020:
From sources, we learnt that sometime in September 2019, Chukwuemeka Nnam was appointed by the Governor as the Commissioner for Lands and considering the overwhelming land related crisis within the state, he was given a stern mandate by the Governor to sanitize the Ministry of Lands.
It was in discharge of the duties of his office as the Commissioner for Lands, Enugu State Ministry of Lands that he discovered to his dismay an alleged land related dispute involving over large expanse of land with contentious ownership status just as the Rights group had asked the Justice Minister to initiate independent investigation tbus: “We urge your good offices to please activate investigative mechanisms to verify these information. Again, the Commissioner being in the know that the allocation of such a large expanse of land within Enugu State must be approved by the State Executive Council and having discovered allegedly that no such approval was obtained prior to the allocation of the said land allegedly and in appreciation of the lingering crisis between the Amechi Awkunanaw and Obeagu communities on one side and a company on the other side, vis-a vis the deluge of petitions forwarded by the concerned communities to the office of the Governor including various Newspaper publications over the said land which covers almost the entirely of the two Communities, attention of the State Governor was drawn to the details of the said land. There is current litigation on the ownership of the said land. A company has vigorously laid claim to the said land and a lot of litigation are ongoing, the Rights group informed the AGF then.
HURIWA then said further that: “Honourable minister Sir, it is also pertinent at this stage to state that all that the police did was to visit the commissioner in his office and sought his statement in respect of a certain case of forgery in the registration of Aruga Layout which the Police Special Fraud Unit, Milverton Police is reportedly investigating. This is considered a perfect set up just to rope him into a phanton charge for his involvement which was the professional brief for the registration of the said layout following his briefing by the representatives of the village involved.”
HURIWA had then informed the minister of justice on the core of it’s appeal to his office thus:
“In view of the above therefore and while appreciating your most principled position toward stamping corruption out of Nigeria. We as Human Rights campaigners humbly appeal to you sir to intervene in this case by causing a withdrawal of the said charge against him so as not to allow corruption prevail in the Enugu State Ministry of Lands in particular and the entire Enugu State in general.
Confident that our appeal will receive a favourable consideration from you Sir, we humbly wish to express our profound gratitude in anticipation of your much desired intervention.”
The Rights group noted that the Office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice has just reportedly served the commissioner a notice of withdrawal of charges as follows:
“IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ENUGU JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ENUGU
CHARGE NO: FHC/EN/CR/33/2020
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA……………… COMPLAINANT’S
1. DR. SURV VICTOR CHUKWUEMEKA NNAM DEPENDANT”.
The AGF said as follows: “NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL
PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 108 (1) (2) (a) & (5) OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL, JUSTICE ACT, 2015 AND UNDER THE INHERENT JURISDICTION OF THIS HONOURABLE COURT
TAKE NOTICE that the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation intends to withdraw FHC/EN/CR/33/2020 before this Honourable Court.
Dated this: 10th days of September 2021 and endorsed by A.K BELLO
CHIEF STATE COUNSEL; K.A FAGBEMI
PRINCIPAL STATE COUNSEL and SANI BAGUDU SENIOR STATE COUNSEL For: The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.