Four siblings have filed a fundamental rights violation suit against their parents, Pius and Eucharia Anowai, the Inspector-General of Police and eight others before a Federal High Court in Lagos for putting them under house arrest.
Other defendants in the suit marked, FHC/L/CS/2031/18, before Justice Babs Kuewumi, are the Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos, Mrs Nkem Ezeonwu; Assistant Commissioner of Police, Akinyemi Bose; and Inspector John Akogun of the Financial Monitoring and Intelligence Unit of the Police Special Fraud Unit, Lekki, Lagos; Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Edgal Imohimi; Divisional Police Officer, Ejigbo Police Division, Mr Ovie Dominic; the Divisional Crime Officer, Ejigbo Police Division; and one Mrs Motunrayo of the Ejigbo Police Division.
Twenty-four-year-old Chioma as well as Stephen, 22; Rita, 20; and Joseph, 18, are demanding the sum of N200m as damages from the defendants.
Chioma and her three siblings, apart from the sum of N200m in damages, are also seeking the order of the court declaring that their arrest, detention, intimidation, torture, humiliation, harassment and forcible extraction of undertaking from them not to belong to the Holy Ghost School Fellowship, located at 13 Eckankar Drive, Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos, by the police at the instance of their parents, was arbitrary, unlawful and contrary to sections 34, 35, 37, 38, 40 and 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
They are also seeking the order of the court to declare that the seizure of their telephones since 2017 till date by ACP Bose Akinyemi and John Akogun was a violation of their rights as guaranteed by Section 37 of the constitution and a declaration that they are entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change their religion or belief from Roman Catholicism to the Holy Ghost School Fellowship.
Chioma, a graduate of Pharmacy, in a deposed affidavit, alleged that prior to her admission and graduation from the university, her parents were constructively separated though living together in the same house, but were not in good terms as husband and wife, which she noted robbed her and her siblings of affection, care and emotional support.
She added that due to the continual disharmony between their parents, her father abandoned them, relocated to another place, and allegedly refused to care for them till they attained adulthood.
The 24-year-old graduate noted that while growing up, their mother was a member of the Holy Ghost School Fellowship, Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos, which she introduced them to and made them members of the church in 2013, adding that when their mother stopped being a member of the church, they found spiritual fulfilment in the church as their parents were at war with each other.
Chioma further alleged that their mother had threatened to disown them if they continued as members of the church, adding that on August 31, 2018, while she was on the church premises, her mother and some police officers from the SFU arrested, tortured and harassed her and one of her siblings, and threw them into a waiting police van.
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, their agents and privies from arresting, harassing, intimidating and detaining them based on their religious beliefs.
Chioma said, “When I got to the police station, I realised that my father was the petitioner and we were made to answer allegations of being abducted and kidnapped by the Holy Ghost Fellowship. We were handcuffed, humiliated, our photographs were taken and we were dragged to a corner to make statements denouncing our membership of the fellowship and not to step into the fellowship again or move away from our parents’ home from morning till night.
“In order to enforce compliance with the undertaking, our cell phones, which included Samsung S5 valued N105,000; Tecno WX3 valued N35,000; and Tecno Y2 valued N15,000; and Samsung S4 valued at N80,000, belonging to a member of the fellowship, were confiscated till date.
“My academic certificates, which include the Madonna University’s Pharmacy degree certificate, provisional licence to practise and other certificates are in my parents’ custody; I’m unable to apply to perform an internship with any pharmaceutical company as well as the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps.”
According to Chioma, the respondents in the suit have brought untold hardship on her and her siblings, as they are now living like destitute, which has exposed them to the vagaries of life, as their comfort has been distorted and they have become unemployable to the business environment.
Though the defendants have not filed any counter motion to the suit, the matter has been fixed for February 14, 2019, for hearing.