Ex-Chairman NBA Aguata, D. U. Umeobika Drags FRSC to Court

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Former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Aguata Branch, D.U Umeobika Esq, whose brawl with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) went viral a few days ago has dragged the FRSC to Court.

The former Chairman revealed that PIN IKWUETO, SAN, BS NWANKWO SAN and E O ACHUKWU,  SAN are leading his team of legal counsel while he has the assurance of four other SANs to also join the team. He also revealed that over fifty lawyers within and outside his state have called to request to join his legal team. In his words:

“I humbly inform you that I have filed the court actions against the officials of the FRSC who assaulted me. Our own PIN IKWUETO, SAN, BS NWANKWO SAN and EO ACHUKWU,  SAN are leading my team of legal pundits. I consider all members my lawyers also. I have received assurances from four other SANs from outside the state to join the team. Over fifty other  lawyers from the state and beyond have called me requesting to join the team. ROB IWEKA, SAN sent in his message of solidarity. Dear brothers and sisters, I most sincerely thank you for your solidarity so far. I cannot thank you enough.

Mr. Umeobika who is a lawyer of over 30 years post call was involved in an ugly fight with men of the FRSC sometime in November. Many lawyers condemned his action in the video which went viral a few days back. However, Mr. Umeobika has in an exclusive chat with BarristerNG revealed details of the event of the said day.

Below is his story as reported by BarristerNG:

I am DAVID UCHECHUKUMEE UMEOBIKA, a Legal Practitioner of No. 23 Mercedes Avenue, Nkpor, Anambra State. I was called to the Nigerian Bar in October, 1987.

On Wednesday 21-11-18, I had the following cases in courts: – HOS/2C/2018 STATE V EKENE EZEABIKWA and MAG/57C/2016 C.O.P V TOCHUKWU NZEDIEGWU.

While the former is a manslaughter case at High Court Orumba South sitting at Umunze, the latter is an assault charge pending at the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Ekwulobia. I am for the defendants in both cases.

In the morning of the said date, I set out in the company of my colleague in chambers N.M. Okpala Esquire. We travelled in my car. My design was to drop my colleague at Ekwulobia Chief Magistrate’s Court, then proceed to Umunze.

Along the Agulu to Igboukwu road, I sighted men of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on the road. I noticed their presence on the road after doing a bend on the road. Then I was going at about 60 kilometres per hour and I started slowing down on seeing them. I noticed that three of them were on the road. One Mrs Emesue was in front and others stood at some distances from her. That she had her two hands raised up and was right at the middle of my lane/side of the road. The place is at Oraeri in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

When I got to where she stood, I stopped the car, brought out my head from the car window and told her I was going to Court at Umunze. I had my black coat on. I also had my white lawyer’s collar (plastic) and bib on. When I said this to her, she stepped out of my course and I took it that she had allowed me to proceed on my journey. I then started moving the car again.

At this point and to my surprise she spoke raising her voice drawing the attention of others who closed in on my car which was moving very slowly. I drove the car slowly to the side of the road and stopped it. Three officials including the two Respondents came to my side of the car and demanded to have the key to my car. I was confused as to what they wanted to do and I repeated that I was going to court at Umunze and was late already. Then it was about 8.45 a.m.

It appears they were annoyed by my explanation and my failure to give them my car key.

Mr. I.P. Okonkwo one of the officials went over to the passenger’s rear seat (far side) of my car opened the door and jumped into the car calling me an idiot. My colleague N.M. Okpala occupied the front passenger’s seat. He turned and asked Mr. I.P. Okonkwo why he was calling me (an elderly person) an idiot. He retorted by saying that he would call me that again and in fact said to me a second time that I was an idiot.  N.M. Okpala Esq. then said to him that he was a fool. Mr. I.P. Okonkwo took offence and hit N.M. Okpala on his hand asking Mr. Okpala why he (Mr. Okpala) “a small boy” should call him a fool.

Immediately after, Mr. I.P.Okonkwo from the rear seat of my car reached for the key which was still in the ignition. He made to take it with his right hand. I blocked him with my shoulder, whereupon he gave me a fist blow on my right shoulder with his right hand. In a flash, Mr. I. P. Okonkwo again went for the car key and I still blocked him. Again he hit me with his fist on the right shoulder. At this point, I grabbed my steering lock and N.M. Okpala faced him and he jumped out of the car the way he jumped into it.

Almost simultaneously, Mrs. Emesue was pulling on my door trying to get it open and I held fast to the inner door handle of the car. In the process of her relentless pulls, the car handle (inside) got broken.

I was complaining about that when she made to take the car key from the ignition using her right hand while standing outside the car. Though I blocked her move, but she tore off a glass key holder with N.B.A written on it and the justicia symbol made on it. I bought it at the last N.B.A. conference at Abuja in August 2018 for N 2, 000 only.

I was then bitterly complaining about the conducts of the officials and while still seated in my seat in the car, Mrs. Emesue pulled the lapel of my coat and I lost one of the buttons of my coat. As if that was not enough, she held me up on my neck where I wore my collar and bib and pulled it roughly and real hard tearing the bib into two and breaking the plastic collar. Even this was not enough for her, she and Mr. I. P. Okonkwo moved about like mad jackals with Mrs. Emesue tearing at me at intervals and menacingly daring me to come down from the car. Mr. I. P. Okonkwo threatened to make me eat grass if I came down from the car.

I was all the while seated in the car and in terror as to what they would do next. At this point I have become thoroughly irritated also and I knew I needed to do something to stop them from getting me naked on the road.

I came down and brought with me my car steering lock intending to use it to ward them off from further attacks on me.

Even that did not deter them. Mrs. Emesue particularly continued her aggression on me and ended up shredding my coat. Even after shredding my coat, she continued her attack on me despite the belated pleas by her colleagues for her to stop her aggression.

When she tore my bib, one bit fell on the road and the other remained on the string used in tying it to my neck. I picked the one that fell on the road afterwards.

Thereafter, the most senior official there suggested that I drove my car while we all went to their Igboukwu office. When I made to go into the car, Mrs. Emesue jumped into the car and sat on the driver’s seat insisting still that I must bring the car key which I now had in my pocket. It took her colleagues about five minutes to persuade her to leave my seat.

At their office, the Unit Commander was away and we were taken to the office of the man in charge of operations. He asked my colleague and I what happened and we narrated our ordeal to him. He asked his men what happened and they gave their side of the story. They denied asking me for my car key, they said they asked for my driver’s license instead. Then Mrs. Emesue was holding my broken car key holder in her hand and I asked a question to the effect that if they did not ask for my car key and struggled to take it by force how come she was having my car key holder. She immediately pocketed the key holder and that was the last time I saw it.

At that time about fifteen officials of the FRSC entered the office with a cell phone which the said contained a video of what happened. They watched the video without showing it to us. After watching the video, they roared up calling us names, pouring invectives on us and saying unprintable things against lawyers generally. Only the man in charge of operations was calm.

Days later, when I had the opportunity of watching the video, I noticed that they only brought out an aspect of the encounter so as to give the impression that I was the aggressor.

After the uproar following the watching of the video by them had subsided, one of them declared that the matter must not end that day. The man in charge of operations said they were going to impound my car to await the return of the Unit Commander on Friday 23/11/18.

I resisted the move to impound my car, where upon he placed a call across to the Unit Commander who asked him to give me the phone and he did. The Unit Commander told me through the telephone to hand over my driver’s license and vehicle papers to the man in charge of operations and go with my car. I handed over to him my driver’s license, insurance papers, Roadworthiness certificate and the vehicle license. All the documents are originals. I also left my shredded wearing apparels with the official.

On 23-11-18,  my colleague and I went back to their Igboukwu office. We met the Unit Commander and narrated what happened to him. Thereafter he said they had reported a case of assault occasioning harm against me at the police station, Ekwulobia and that we were to go to Ekwulobia. Himself, two other officials, my colleague and I went to the police station.

There the D.P.O. listened to me and asked me to make a statement under caution. This I did. He granted me bail in my self recognizance and asked us to come back on Monday. He muted that the matter would be best settled amicably. I was at the police station on Monday but the D.P.O. was away. He left regrets.

On 4/12/18 the I.P.O. in the matter called me at about 9 a.m and informed me that the D.P.O. would like to interview us at 3 p.m same day. At 2.50 p.m on 4/12/18, I was at the Police Station Ekwulobia and waited till 5.00 p.m when the Igboukwu Unit Commander and Uzoma Enweluzo Esq. a lawyer with the FRSC, Awka arrived.

The D.P.O. wanted to know what next and the Unit Commander and the lawyer said that the Sector Commander at Awka and the officers at Abuja after watching the video clip said that I must be prosecuted for assaulting Mrs. Emesue.

The D.P.O. turned to me and I said I was ready to swallow the assault, insult and other losses I incurred if they wanted settlement, otherwise I knew I can pursue some of my rights infringed upon by the officials. The D.P.O. spoke to us at length and still suggested amicable settlement as the best option in the circumstances of the case.

At last the D.P.O. advised me to go to Awka office of FRSC and meet the Sector Commander. I eventually agreed to do so.

Outside the D.P.O.’s office I agreed with my learned friend Uzoma Enweluzo Esq. that I was going to go to Awka on the 6/12/18 to see the Sector Commander. On 5/12/18, in the evening Uzoma Enweluzo told me through the telephone that the Sector Commander said that he was not going to see me for anything; that I must be prosecuted. The same evening I called Mr. Francis Eban, the Unit Commander Igboukwu, who corroborated what Mr. Uzoma Enweluzo said.

At this point I informed Sir R.O. Ezenwosu the leader of Aguata branch of the N.B.A about what was going on. He later informed me and I verily believed him that he reached Mr. Uzoma Enweluzo who said there was nothing he could do to secure settlement out of court.

I have not been arraigned before any court.

They are still with my driver’s license and vehicle papers to my injury. I was not booked for any contravention. They did not even check my vehicle on 21-11-18 owing to the confusion brought about by the conducts of the two officials.

Rather than arraign me, they and their colleagues have resorted to making the video clip (which is inconclusive of my encounter with them) go viral in a design to bring me to disrepute.

My shredded coat, collar and bib are with the Police at Ekwulobia Police Station. I have also passed through mental torture, discomfort and inconveniences owing to the acts of the officials.

However, the most agonizing of the episode so far is the public statement made by Kunle Edun the Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association. Without making any efforts to trace me and hear from me, Kunle Edun made the publication vilifying me. His publication came to me as a shock. It traumatized me. It sheered my heart like a red hot iron shaft.

I am particularly pained by the action of the Mr. Edun because the N.B.A. is an association I have belonged to for thirty one years and two months since my call to bar in October, 1987. I have also served the N.B.A. locally and nationally. Between 2008 and 2010 I was the secretary of N.B.A. Aguata branch. Between 2010 and 2012 I was the chairman of the branch. I had been chairman of the committee of Chairmen and secretaries of all the N.B.A. branches in Anambra State. I was a member of the N.E.C. of the N.B.A. for six years running 2008-2013. I have served in a number of national committees of the N.B.A. I believe that I am not a personality Mr. Edun would have had difficulties in tracing if he had made any effort. 

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