Human Interest

Mgbilimgba: Anambra Govt disowns SASA operatives in court,says we didn’t employ them


By Our correspondent

The Anambra State Government has denied any affiliation with the Special Anti-Touting Squad Anambra State (SASA), revealing that the group’s operatives are impostors with no legitimate authority.

The government’s stance was made clear in a counter affidavit deposed by Mr. Obumneme Obiekie, a litigation officer in the State Ministry of Justice, at the Federal High Court in Awka.

The affidavit was filed on behalf of the state government and the Honourable Attorney General, who are respondents in a N500 million lawsuit brought by Mr. Wilfred Ikechukwu Ezike, alias Mgbịlịgba.

Ezike’s lawsuit alleges maltreatment and unlawful actions by SASA operatives on May 9 and 10, 2024.

The suit, which alleges violation of the human rights of the Applicant (Mr. Nweke), also has the Anambra State Government, the Attorney General of the State, Hon. Solomon Chukwuebuka Onwuemene (State Director, Special Anti-Touting Squad Anambra State, SASA), Mr. Fred Nweke (the Admin Officer of SASA), Kenechukwu Okolie (Officer in Charge of Torture Special Anti-Touting Squad, Anambra State), the Inspector-General of Police, and the Attorney General of the Federation as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th respondents respectively.

However, the state government’s counter affidavit unequivocally denies any involvement with SASA or its activities.

According to the affidavit, the Anambra State Government never employed or authorized the SASA operatives to carry out any duties on its behalf.

The government also disavowed any knowledge of the group’s existence or operations within the state.

The state government’s affidavit read in part, “That Paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the applicant’s affidavit are false.

In response to paragraph 3, the 1st and 2nd respondents( Anambra State Government and Attorney General of the state) state that the 3rd to 5th respondents are not employees, agents or contractors of the 1st and 2nd respondents.

“In response to paragraph 4 of the applicant’s affidavit, the 1st and 2nd respondents state that state organs/entities in Anambra State are created by law, executive orders or other contracts duly executed by the State Government.

“The applicant is challenged to provide any law, executive order, official gazette or any other contract duly executed by the Anambra State Government creating and/or constituting the alleged Special Anti-Touting Squad.

“In response to paragraph 6, the 1st and 2nd respondents state that they are not responsible for the activities of the 3rd to 5th respondents or the alleged Special Anti-Touting Squad complained of in this suit.

“The applicant is challenged to produce evidence that either the Special Anti-Touting Squad or the 3rd to 5th respondents are employed directly or indirectly by the Anambra State Civil Service Commission, or that they receive their salaries out of the consolidated fund of the state.”

Continuing, it said: “In further response to paragraph 5 of the applicant’s affidavit, the 1st and 2nd respondents state that they have no hand in the travails of the applicant described in this suit.”

Our correspondent recalled that when the incident happened in May,the Commissioner for Homeland Affairs, Chikodi Anarah, said, “We are investigating the matter and will punish the erring SASA operatives.”

The Commissioner added, “I have been alerted to a viral video on the arrest and manhandling of one Wilfred Ezike, also known as Mgbiligba by SASA operatives. I really feel bad that an incident of that nature took place. I have felt bad all through the day since somebody posted the video to me.

“It is true that some people are unrepentantly committed to various criminalities on the basis of which innocent citizens remain in miserable conditions running their legitimate day-to-day life, but we must handle human beings according to prescriptions of the law, no matter their offence.

“Our government is law-abiding, and that is why we must fish out the SASA operatives involved in the incident under reference and punish them accordingly.

“It is also true that we are resolute to stamp out ‘Agberos’, but that must happen within the confines of the laws of the land. Interestingly, people have been commenting and reacting. This shows life in an organised democracy.

“Some of them allege various levels of atrocities committed by Wilfred Ezike for which he ought to have been more severely manhandled and brought to book, while counter-narratives insist that he should not be manhandled at all. For me, and the government of Anambra State, nothing justifies brutality, and that is why we will punish the erring operatives.

“According to records published in various platforms, Wilfred Ezike had been in and out of prison custody for the alleged murder of innocent people while with his boys, extorting money from them. He is said to be a major kingpin of touts in whose hands people have gone through hell.

“We were informed that there was widespread jubilation among Onitsha traders and ‘keke’ operators when they heard about his arrest. They alleged that he was dreaded, but that (if true) does not imply that SASA should not follow the law in dealing with him.

“Other comments are that SASA operatives may have been enraged because, according to them, he wrote a petition against them falsely alleging that they killed somebody along Niger Street, Onitsha.

“SASA was further quoted as saying that he did that to commence his effort to cripple its job so as to continue his unholy business. A police investigation is said to support SASA’s position that the petition was unfounded.

“General comments have also expressed opinions that Wilfred had been prominent in fighting previous administrations to a standstill in their effort to curb the State of touts and their activities.”

The RAZOR News had reported that the Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, inaugurated the state Anti-touts Squad in 2023 to tackle the increasing spate of touting in the state

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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