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INTERVIEW: Simon Ekpa a conman, opportunist – IPOB lawyer, Ejiofor

  By Henry Nnaemeka   Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has slammed Simon E...


By Henry Nnaemeka


Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has slammed Simon Ekpa, the Finland-based self-acclaimed Prime Minister of the Biafra Republic Government-in-Exile, describing him as a ‘conman’ and ‘opportunist’ exploiting the vacuum caused by Kanu’s incarceration to pursue his selfish agenda. He added that Ekpa’s agenda runs contrary to the beliefs of Nnamdi Kanu.


In this exclusive interview with DAILY POST, Barrister Ejiofor affirmed that Nnamdi Kanu is not in support of the incessant sit-at-home orders and wanton destruction of people’s livelihood in the Southeast. He also gave an update on Kanu’s case and on other issues. Excerpts!


Supporters of sit-at-home have argued that they are using it because they want to consistently remind the government and demand the immediate release of Kanu by the Department of State Services, DSS. What do you think about their argument?



Their argument is misconceived and holds no water, simple. How can it make sense when Nnamdi Kanu whom you are purportedly sitting-at-home for has given a direct order that you should stop because he doesn’t like that strategy?


However, I want to clarify again that MNK (Mazi Nnamdi Kanu) has totally cancelled sit-at-home. This is because it is a dead strategy. Nnamdi Kanu didn’t start saying this today. This message has been on for almost two years. The first time this sit-at-home was suggested by the DOS, he instructed me to tell them that they should cancel it. He warned that the sit-at-home would make it easy for criminal gangs to take advantage and be causing havoc in our community.


The IPOB leadership were reasonable when I told them MNK’s directive on sit-at-home. They understood the point he was making and consequently proceeded to cancel it. Now when that was done and they announced the cancellation of the sit-at-home in line with the directive of MNK, that was when some people who were scheming for an opportunity to be relevant saw that as an avenue to launch themselves into the limelight. They started dishing out contrary orders that sit-at-home must continue. They came out throwing insults and threats that made gullible people believe they are true, and have the interest of MNK at heart. But unknown to them, the man spearheading the sit-at-home is on a different project. He has his own ideology, plans and agenda which is fundamentally different from whatever you think he’s pursuing.


MNK has consistently relayed messages telling people that they should stop sit-at-home over his case. At one point, he was forced to say something in court where he clearly said he wants Southeast to be calm and peaceful. He explained that the suffering he’s passing through is to liberate the Igbos. He said it clearly, under no duress or at gunpoint. He also went on to send a handwritten note directly to the person anchoring the sit-at-home, telling him that sit-at-home orders and enforcement should not be done for his sake. How can you merge the agenda of MNK that is being detained and subjected to intense physiological trauma so that his people can be liberated, with people that go about kidnapping, killing, and cannibalising innocent people? The answer is that these gangs enforcing sit-at-home are not for MNK’s interest and ideology.


But as a member of MNK’s legal team, has this sit-at-home had any impact on the federal government at all?


Sit-at-home has not been effective, and will never make the federal government do anything for MNK. In fact, I can assure you that the government and the DSS are even happy with the hostility going on in the southeast. Because I have reasons to believe that this criminal in Finland ordering sit-at-home, is being armed, supported and funded by the government.


For example, in Imo State today, we have various communities that have been taken over by these criminals. These communities are known to the government but instead of the government deploying forces to go there, they instead go after arresting innocent passersby. I can confirm to you that they are killing and arresting innocent people in the east, and bringing them to Abuja in their 100s.


I have a friend of mine who lost his elder sister, and I called him to confirm when they have fixed the burial. He told me that the in-laws are waiting to get permission from the gangs operating in the community. These criminals are the ones that now tell people the date, time for the burial, the number of guests they should invite, and the time all the guests must leave the community. This is the situation in many parts of Imo and Anambra. And you have governors there who claim to be fighting insecurity.


But now the new directive is that the government should go out to fish out these criminals and deal with them accordingly. As far as I am concerned, sit-at-home has no impact whatsoever in the matter we are having in court.


What we have now are criminals destroying communities in the name of MNK. What that shows is that they have nothing to do with the Biafra struggle. And we have said this countless times that Simon Ekpa is not with IPOB. He is just an opportunist who saw the vacuum created by the temporary exit of MNK as an opportunity to come into the limelight. And his activities of late will show you that he is pursuing his own different agenda. I noticed that he is a conman right from the early days. But many gullible people thought he was working for Nnamdi Kanu until at some point it now became clear to everybody.


Now, everybody can see how he is destroying the Southeast with his sit-at-home orders and enforcement. And I can assure you that 99.9 per cent of the people calling for MNK’s release are doing so because they are convinced that he was not indulging in criminal activities.


What is the update on MNK’s case?


The point is that life has not been fair to Nnamdi Kanu, so you can’t expect him to feel fine for so many reasons. One, he was abducted in Kenya on the 19th of June 2021, tortured for eight days, exposed to all sorts of inhuman treatment, kept in an undescriptive environment like a criminal, and he faced extraordinary rendition to Nigeria. He was taken to court on the 29th of June on a subsisting matter without reference to us, his lawyers. The court made an order that he should be remanded in the DSS facility. It is known to all that DSS is not a conventional facility for remanding people awaiting trial. We have the correctional service centre which is the institution in charge of keeping people awaiting trial until they are convicted. But that is by the way.


We vigorously pursued the charges against him and the FG kept amending the charges. They started from five to seven-counts-charge, then they made it up to 10 and then later 15-count charge. In all these amendments, we kept filing objections to the competence of the charge, and the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, on the grounds that there was gross violation of international and domestic laws in the manner he was brought to Nigeria.


Two, the offences disclosed in the charge proffered against him have no true evidence backing them up. These are grounds upon which we objected to the charges against him.


The last charge is the 15-count charge and the court heard our objection to the charge and eventually struck out many of the 15-count charges, leaving the remaining seven. We took the seven to the Court of Appeal and on the 13th of October 2022, the court delivered judgement and consequently, they struck out the remaining charges. The court did not only discharge MNK of the seven-count charge, but it also made a far-reaching pronouncement in the judgement, ordering the government to release him unconditionally and to stop prosecuting, detaining or subjecting MNK to any form of criminal indictment or trial before any court in Nigeria again.


This order was served on the government, and to date, they have not complied with that court order. Instead, the federal government went to file an application before the same Court of Appeal to stay the execution of the judgement delivered. We objected because that sort of application is not known to law. Normally if you want to appeal the judgement of the Court of Appeal, you take it up to the Supreme Court. But another set of judges at the Court of Appeal sat on the application and on 18th of October 2022 delivered a ruling staying the execution of the judgement made by the same Court of Appeal.


Again, the federal government proceeded to the Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling. We have also filed an appeal against that order staying the execution of the order granted by the Court of Appeal. So we have three different appeals pending before the Supreme Court, and the court has set down the matter for a definite hearing on September 14th.


How has this whole situation affected MNK in DSS detention?


You can understand that he is emotionally traumatised. He is in solitary confinement where he has no access to no human beings. They have continued to violate his rights, more so, when a court of competent jurisdiction has freed him. But instead of complying with that order, the government went further to appeal against it. We are not against FG appealing the judgement, but they should have complied with the declarative order of the Court of Appeal that ordered you to let him go. So he is not happy at all.


And we, his lawyers, representing him are not impressed with the manner in which the FG is treating court orders with levity and impunity. It shows that they have no respect for the rule of law and constitutional democracy.


However, we won’t take laws into our hands. We are hoping that the final court of the land will grant us justice come September 14, 2023.


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