Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
An Anambra-based legal practitioner, Moses Peter Okon, has cried out to the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) as well as the Police in Anambra State over what he described as threats and attempts to terminate his life in the state.
According to the lawyer, a judgment debtor in a case he stood as plaintiff at Nnewi Magistrate Court is conniving with unknown forces to threaten his life and well-being in the community where he resides and practices.
Narrating the incidents that led to the situation, Okon, the Publicity Secretary of NBA, Nnewi Branch, said he represented a party as Plaintiffs’ Counsel in a civil suit at the Magistrates Court, Nnewi, and got judgment in his favour against a certain man named Christian Aguezue (the judgment debtor) in December, 2022.
According to him, his client (plaintiff) got the judgment executed mid-January 2023 and after the execution, sold the shops to a company, which subsequently resold the shops to its current owner.
He said trouble started when the current owner tried on several occasions to take possession of the shops but was constantly prevented by the judgment debtor.
“After the current owner has had several meetings with the market authority (N.A.S.P.A.) in respect of which the latter has been inviting the Judgment Debtor but he had been declining the invitations. The market authorities agreed to allow the current owner to bring painters to repaint the shops to his business name on Sunday, 5th March 2023.
“On that same Sunday, 5th March 2023, while I was riding my motorcycle to Hundred Foot Road, Nnewi to purchase some tubers of yams, I received a call from the current owner that his painter called him and informed him that some persons prevented them from repainting the shops. I then told him that since the shops are in the market just along Hundred Foot Road that I would go and observe what was going on as it is possible to view the shops from outside the market as the market has transparent gates.”
Okon who said the market does not usually open for transactions on Sundays said he got close to the gate and observed the presence of a few persons including the Head of the credit department of his client’s company. He also said that the area was calm at the time he left for where he would purchase his yams.
“Immediately, 2 young men approached me and got me into a discussion with them about the naira scarcity despite the Supreme Court’s order. Unknown to me, the men were emissaries of the Judgment Debtor.
“While we were still discussing the matter an ash-coloured Peugeot saloon car approached us in reverse motion. As soon as the car honked its horn, the 2 young men grabbed my arms on both sides and held me tightly, and detained me. I was in shock when I saw the Judgment Debtor alight from the driver’s cabin with an axe in one hand and a gallon in the other. The Judgment Debtor then informed me that he has been looking for me for a long time and that he would hack me to pieces and dissolve my corpse with acid.
“I screamed for help and struggled with my captors and I only managed to escape by the whiskers when the Defendant’s axe almost struck me. The Judgment Debtor then pursued after me with his axe and gallon of acid and only turned back around Nwanyi Imo Roundabout on seeing that crowd was gathering. I then stopped and watched him retreat to my motorcycle. With the assistance of the said 2 young men, the Judgment Debtor took possession of my Red Honda Jaguar motorcycle and commenced wanton destruction of same by hacking it to pieces of ironmongery.”
Still shocked, the lawyer said he reported the incident to the Police Area Command at Nnewi and was accompanied to the scene by a joint team of policemen and Vigilante operatives who arrested the Judgment Debtor and also recovered the red-handled axe.
According to him, the police later, during their investigation, recovered the haggard motorcycle together with the Judgment Debtor’s car with which he conveyed the motorcycle to a construction site.
Okon, however, said that he got wind of information that the suspects were later released on bail the following day, despite the gravity of his complaint. He noted that the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) later informed him that arraignment notices had been issued to the suspects to appear in Court on March 9, 2023, but unfortunately, the case was adjourned to Tuesday by the Magistrate.
Narrating further, Okon said he was waiting by the roadside, close to his office, on Sunday, around 5:30 pm to meet up with an appointment, when a strange man approached him. “He mockingly asked me if I have now succeeded in sending his brother, Hammer King (the nickname of the Judgment Debtor) to prison after I had sold his shops.” He said the strange man swore to deal with him so long he remained in Nnewi town and the state.
Following the incidents, the lawyer said he has been living in fear since the inception of the threats and attempts to take his life. He reported that he is yet to recover from the psychological trauma of being pursued with an axe and a gallon of acid, and watching his motorcycle being hacked to pieces.
Meanwhile, the NBA Nnewi branch has condemned the incident, describing it as a very ugly, provocative, life-threatening, and unwarranted assault on its member.
A statement signed by its Secretary, C. S. Agbom, said the body has petitioned the State Commissioner of Police on the matter. It said it will file a civil suit for damages and will ensure justice for the victim as he was merely carrying out his services as a lawyer to warrant such treatment.