Alleged N2.5Billion Diversion: Union Homes Former Secretary Sues Police, Officials For Alleged Rights Violations, Laments Threats To Life
Mrs Maimuna Chionuma, a legal practitioner and immediate past Company Secretary of Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc, has sued the Inspector General of Police, Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 7, principal officers of Union Homes – Risi Ladi Ahmed, Richard Femi Bello and Femi Adewoye over alleged human rights violations.
The suit with number FHC/C/CS/748/2023 was filed on Tuesday at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court of Nigeria. It commenced under the Matter of Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The suit filed by her lawyer, Igbinigle Orukpe Esq is brought Pursuant to Order II Rule 3 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.
On April 19, 2023, Chionuma petitioned the police and the Central Bank where she revealed how Aso Savings and Loans PLC along with some officials allegedly diverted N2.5 billion judgement debt of the firm.
She had in the petitions said that N2.5 billion was judgement debt paid by the Lagos State Government as compensation to Union Homes Plc, Searaq Nigeria Ltd and the Abule Ado Plumbing Materials Association.
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Speaking to The press concerning the development, Chionuma, said she wrote the petitions following threats to her life for refusing to accede to the transaction.
It was gathered that Chionuma was relieved of her appointment with Union Homes and Loans because of her insistence that due process should be followed in order to save the firm and officials from being prosecuted for money laundering.
Following the revelation about the diversion of the fund, the officials of Union Homes and their collaborators in Aso Savings and Loans allegedly engaged police personnel from Zone 7 to hound Chionuma, a development that forced her to abandon her house for safety
Sequel to the emerging development, Chionuma through her lawyer filed the fundamental human rights enforcement suit against the Inspector General of Police, Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 7, the principal officers of Union Homes – Risi Ladi Ahmed, Richard Femi Bello and Femi Adewoye, who are listed as 1 to 5 Respondents, asking the court for protection.
Among the reliefs she seeks against the Respondents is that the court should stop them from further harassing, stalking, inviting, intimidating, arresting and/or detaining her in respect of Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc, arguing that the matter is a civil rights issue.
She told the court that under Section 34(1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), she (the Applicant) is entitled to her fundamental right to dignity of her person and not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.
She also contended that the Respondents’ act of threatening and intimidating her (Applicant) with arrest and detention is unlawful and a breach of the Applicant’s fundamental rights.
The reliefs sought read: “A declaration that the 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Respondents continuous stalking, harassment, haranguing, dehumanizing, oppression, humiliation, intimidation and threats (by the 3th, 4th and 5th Respondents) to the life of the Applicant and the 3, 4 and 5 Respondents’ threats of using the 1 and 2 Respondents to arrest and incarcerate the Applicant over a purely civil matter between the Applicant and the 3, 4 and 5 Respondents, constitutes a violation of the Applicant’s fundamental right to privacy and family life, dignity of human person and personal liberty as guaranteed under sections 34, 35 and 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and Articles 3 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and is therefore unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void.
“A declaration that the 1″, and 2″ Respondents by the enabling Act establishing it, lacks the statutory power to function as a tool to threaten and intimidate the Applicant on behalf of the 3, 4 and 5 Respondents or anybody for the matter in matters of civil rights.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents jointly and severally either acting by themselves or through their privies, servants, agents or anybody howsoever called or described from further stalking, inviting, harassing, intimidating, arresting and or detaining the Applicant in respect of Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc.
“And for such further or other Order(s) as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this Application.”
In her affidavit of non-multiplicity of action on the same subject matter, Chionuma stated that “when I drew the 3rd Respondent’s attention to the Consent Judgment signed by the parties detailing the Trust Account into which the compensation should be paid in, I was issued a query by the 3 and 5 Respondents.
“That thereafter, I was directed by the 3rd Respondent to write a letter notifying Searaq Nigeria Ltd about the payment of N2.5 billion by the Lagos State Government and to also state that 50% of the N2.5 billion which translates to N1.250 billion will be paid to “Unknown Political People” and that the sum of N75 million will be paid as fees to Consultant for sharing the money to the “Unknown Political People”.
“That as Company Secretary of Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc, I was instructed to cover up the sums not received by Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc and to acknowledge receipt of the sum of N2.5 billion Lagos State Compensation paid but not received by Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc. This directive I refused to carry out and I was threatened severally by the 3rd Respondent.
“The 5th Respondent subsequently acknowledged receipt of N2.5 billion.
“That as a consequence of my refusal to aid and abet the diversion, conversion and money laundering of Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc, Lagos State Compensation by the acknowledgement suffered continuous harassment, intimidation, threats to my life and the unlawful and malicious termination of my employment.
“That the harassment and intimidation include threatening telephone calls and text messages at night to me by the 3rd Respondent, the directing mind behind the diversion.
“That the harassment, intimidation, threat to my career and well-being on account of my refusal to be a party to fraud transcended beyond the illegal/wrongful termination of my appointment on 20 March 2023 as I received a registered letter delivered at my residence dated 28 March 2023 with strong emphasis on the condition that I must remain silent on all matters involving the diversion, conversion and money laundering.
“That I was invited by the Police Force, Zone 7 Headquarters, Abuja and I honoured the invitation by filing a Cross- Petition. Now shown to me and marked Exhibit F is a copy of the invitation letter dated 31/3/2023.
“That notwithstanding the 1″ and 2 Respondents’ receipt of my cross-petition, the 3″, 4 and 5 Respondents, in furtherance of their determination to use their connection and contacts with and involve the 2 Respondent in this case, commissioned the 2nd” to continue the threats and intimidation, harassment among others.”