Alleged Terrorism: Eze Ndigbo of Ajao Estate Not Recognised, Lagos Tells Court

Alleged Terrorism: Eze Ndigbo of Ajao Estate Not Recognised, Lagos Tells Court

Wale Igbintade

A Lagos State civil servant, Mrs. Raulat Ibrahim, yesterday told a Lagos High Court that the title of Eze Ndigbo of Ajao Estate, claimed by Frederick Nwajagu “is not recognised by the Lagos State Government.”

Led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr. Babajide Martins (SAN), Mrs Ibrahim, who is the third prosecution witness said that the defendant did not follow due process and not recognised by Lagos State government.

According to her, there is no Oba or  chief in Ajao Estate recognised by the  state government.

Nwajagu is standing trial on a nine-count charge bordering on an attempt to commit acts of terrorism, financing terrorism, participating in terrorism, and meeting to support a proscribed entity.

He was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services, (DSS), over an alleged threat to invite members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)to Lagos to secure properties of Igbo people in the state.

The Defendant had on July 25, 2023, applied for bail, citing his medical reports, adding that he was not a flight risk.

At the resumption of proceedings, Mrs Ibrahim said: “I am a civil servant at the Ministry of Local Governments, Chieftaincy Affairs and Rural Developments. I was employed in October 2001 and made Assistant Director in 2015.

“My schedule of duties include, upgrading of Baale/chiefs or Oba either from part 3 to part 2. Creation  of stool, monthly meetings with the Obas and the Lagos State Council of Chiefs and Obas. Preparing  allowance of Obas, conflict resolutions and lastly stakeholders meetings.

“The processing for stool designation is from the Local Government. Relevant documents will be forwarded such as the minute of the ruling house, minute of the selectors, then minute of the chieftaincy committee in the local government.

“The bio data of the chieftain, the Curriculum Vitae,  the picture of the chieftain and a certain amount of money which the chieftain will pay to the Local Government.

“Payment of moving from part 3 to part 2 then we start the processing from our ministry, we then forward the document to ministry of justice for clearance then we send it for Governor’s approval, and ratification of the executive members. Then we prepare the letter.

“Since the letter is from the Local Government, my office calls the chieftaincy officer of the local government for collection of the letter.

“For the Obas, the local government will forward the requirement letter to our ministry then we send it to Ministry of Justice, then they forward it to Lagos State Standing Tribunal Enquiry for Chieftaincy Matters, the Standing Tribunal publishes the name in a national newspaper, interested parties will join the tribunal.

“After it has been resolved, the file will be sent back to our ministry for further processing. Then we start all over again to the ministry of justice to governors office etc. Then the ministry will now issue letter of approval. On the installation day, certificate will be sent by the Governor for approval, then the ministry will install the Oba.

“The letter of approval will be signed by the permanent secretary of the ministry. There is no installation for Chief.  It’s the letter that shows his recognition as a chief in Lagos state.”

The witness further stated that the procedure is governed by the Obas and Chiefs law of Lagos State 2015, adding that there is no Oba or recognised Chief in Ajao Estate.

Asked by the prosecution, ‘if a person claims or parades himself that he is a Chief in Ajao estate, what does that mean under the law and the procedure?’

She said: “The person did not follow the due process and it’s recognised by law therefore not recognised by Lagos State.”

Prosecution: When the Defendant was arrested by police he had a certificate, are you familiar with it? 

Witess: No sir, we don’t issue such.

This is not a certificate signed by the governor? It’s not issued by Lagos State. Since the chief did not follow this procedure, he will be charged to court.

During cross-examination by the Defence Counsel, the wittiness stated that she attended Maryland primary school, Maryland comprehensive and Ondo state University Ado-Ekiti, where she obtained  a West Africa Examination Council Certificate, and a Degree in Sociology.

Asked if Defendant paraded himself as Elegushi of Ikate land?

Wittiness: He did not parade himself as Elegushi nor Baale of Addo. He did not parade himself as any of the recognised chiefs.”

On whether she investigated the certificate paraded by the Defendant, she said “I’m seeing the defendant for the first time, I have never investigated him. The police or Department of State Services (DSS) report on this case was not copied to our department.

“The Permanent Secretary gave me instruction on this matter. A file containing a mail was sent from the Perm Sec to our Director of Chieftaincy then it was sent to me on December 19, 2023, and we appeared in court in January. We didn’t have the administrative file of the Eze-Ndigbo, then we sent to Director Legal in archives.

“The director then said I will appear in court because we don’t have such processed file as he is not our chief. I am conversant with the recognised chief in Lagos State and Eze Ndigbo is not one of them”.

Justice Adesanya adjourned the suit till January 29, 2024 for continuation of trial.

The Lagos State Government had in suit No: LD/21505C/2023 alleged that the Defendant’s acts contravened Section 403(2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The state noted that the offences also contravened Sections 12(a) (c), 18, 21, and 29 of the Terrorism (Prevention & Prohibition) Act, 2022.

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