Four siblings have filed a suit against their mother, Mrs. Eucharia Ukamaka Anowai, their father, Mr. Pius Emeka Anowai, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and eight others before a Federal High Court, Lagos, demanding the sum of N200 million for allegedly putting them under ‘house arrest’.
The four siblings are: 24 years old, Miss. Chioma Anowai, Stephen Emeka Anowai, 22, Miss Rita Onyinye Anowai, 20, and Joseph Chiedu Anowai, 18.
Other defendants in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/2031/18, filed by the applicants’ lawyer, Damien Mousa Anyama, before Justice Babs Kuewumi led-court are: one Mrs. Nkem Ezeonwu, Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Akinyemi Bose and Inspector John Akogun of Financial Monitoring and Intelligence Unit (FMIU) of Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) Lekki-Lagos, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Ejigbo, Lagos, Mr. Ovie Dominic , DCO, Ejigbo Police Division and one Mrs. Motunrayo of Ejigbo Police Division.
Chioma and her three siblings, apart from the sum of the N200 million demanded from the defendants as damages for infringing on their fundamental rights, also wants the court to declare that their arrest, detention, intimidation, torture, humiliation, harassment and forcible extraction of undertaking from then not to belong to Holy Ghost School Fellowship, located at 13, Eckanckar Drive, Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos, by the police at the instant of their parents is arbitrary, unlawful, and ultra vires Sections 34, 35, 37, 38, 40 and 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
They also want the court to declare that the seizure of their telephone sets since 2017 till date by ACP Bose Akinyemi and John Akogun, is violation of their right as guaranteed by section 37 of the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999. And a declaration that they are entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion including freedom to change their religion or beliefs from Roman Catholic Church to Holy Ghost School Fellowship.
The applicants also want the court to declare that the seizure of the their wearing apparels, personal effect, cell phones, educational certificates, by the police in order to enforce the undertaking restricting them to their parents’ home and to restrict their movement for greener pastures is a violation of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The four siblings also want the court to make an order directing the police to release their personal effects. And an order of perpetual injunction restraining the police, its agents, privies, from arresting, harassing, intimidating and detaining them based d on the religious beliefs as adult forthwith.
The applicants, in an affidavit deposed to by the first applicant, Chioma, a graduate of Pharmacy, from Madonna University, Elele, Rivers State, stated that prior to her admission and graduation from the university, her parents were constructively separated, though, living together in the same house, but not in good terms as husband and wife, which robbed them of affection, care and emotional. And that due to continual disharmony between their parents, her father abandoned them and relocates to another place of abode and since this n he refused to care for them from infancy till they attained adulthood.
Chioma also stated that during their formative age, their mother was a member of Holy Ghost School Fellowship, Oke-Afa, Isolo-Lagos, where she introduced them and made them members of the Church in 2013.
She added that on their mother’s stopped being member of the said church, they found spiritual fulfilment and upliftment in the Church since there was nobody to uplift them spiritual and emotional and as their parents were at war with each other.
The deponent further stated that their mother had brought intimidation, harassment, threat to disown them as her children if they continue to be members of the church stated above, to the extend that she had to relocated to one Sister Blessing Nmezi, a member of the fellowships, while the second applicant was still in schools and third and fourth applicants were staying inside the fellowship premises. And that that the reasons for their dispersal, was due to their parents’ separation from their matrimonial home at Plot 25, Mercy Day Estate, Close 2, Jakande Estate, Isolo, Lagos and that they never maintained or provided maintenance, necessaries, upkeep even school fees for were unpaid.
She further stated that on or about August 31, 2018, while she was in the church premises, her mother and some police officers from Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) Lekki, Lagos, arrested, tortured, manhandled, humiliated and harassed her and the fourth applicants and threw them into police vehicle.
She also stated that on getting to the police station, she realised that her father was the petitioner and that they were made to answer allegations of being abducted and kidnapped by the Holy Ghost Fellowships and that they were also made suspects, humiliated, their photographs were taken, handcuffed and dragged to a corner to make statements denouncing her membership of the fellowships and not to step into the fellowships or move away from their parents’ home from morning till night.
She stated that in order to enforce their compliance with the undertaking, their cell phones which include, Samsung s5 valued N105,000; Tecno wx3 valued N35, 000; Tecno Y2 valued N15, 000; and Samsung S4 valued N80, 000, belonging to a member of the fellowship were confiscated till today.
She also stated that due to the seizure of her academic certificates which include, Madonna University B.SC Pharmacy degree certificate, provisional license for practice and other certificates are in her parents’ custody, she is unable to apply to perform her internship with any pharmaceutical company as well as performing the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corp (NYSC).
She stated that the actions of all the respondents have brought untold hardship on her as well as her siblings, as they are now living like destitute, societal dregs and orphans with nobody to rely on for comfort and that attention have exposed them to vagaries of life, their comfort been distorted and that they have become unemployable to business environment and refused them to destitution of which no amount of damages would be able to assuage as well as emotionally broken.
She also stated that they were left without clothes, phones and other personal effects, as they now depend on people of goodwill for their survival and restoration of their dignity as human persons. Adding that they are all that entitled to the sum of N200 million against all the defendants for infringing on their fundamental rights.
Though, the defendants have not file any counter to the suit, the matter has been fixed for February 14, 2019, for hearing.
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