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Driver’s family accuses Cross River judge of human rights abuse, demands justice

Driver’s family accuses Cross River judge of human rights abuse, demands justice
April 08
14:18 2020
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The family of Otu Edem (pictured), a driver attached to Agnes Onyebueke, a high court judge in Cross River state, has accused her of molestation.

In a video uploaded on social media, the sister and mother of Edem called on the National Judicial Council, and the Judicial Service Commission to sanction the judge.

The duo accused Onyebueke of attempting to kill Edem, whom they said is not her personal but official driver.

They alleged that the judge ordered her sons to beat him while she supervised them from her balcony.

“On Tuesday, some serious injustice and maltreatment was brought upon my family by a judge, Justice Agnes Onyebueke. She is a judge in Calabar, Cross Rivers state,” Edem’s sister said.

“Her husband is a lawyer; his name is Ifeanyi Fedelis Obi Onyebueke. He is a solicitor in Calabar. My brother is a civil servant. For the past five months, he has been working with this woman. He has been a driver for six years but transferred to this judge late last year.

“Two days ago, my brother showed up to work, and this woman sent her sons to beat up my brother with an iron rod. They beat him up so badly that they almost killed him. They locked the gate so he could not escape.

“He didn’t show up to steal in her house, he is not an intruder, he showed up to carry out his obligation, and he was beaten up and assaulted. She asked her son to beat up my brother over the claim that he insulted her.”

She said when the matter was reported to Okon Edem, chief registrar of the state high court, he promised to transfer Edem from the place, confessing that previous drivers also complained about the judge.

The sister demanded justice, calling on the appropriate authorities to look into the matter.

‘I STRUGGLED TO RAISE MY SON’

Edem’s sister and his mother

Edem’s mother also complained bitterly, saying as a widow for 16 years she struggled to raise her son and his siblings.

She alleged that the Onyebueke family were trying to influence the police to drop the matter.

When contacted, the chief registrar told TheCable that he is aware of the complaint against the judge.

He said Maurice Eneji, acting chief judge of the state, has already set up a panel to look into the matter and report back to him by Friday.

“We are aware of the matter. In fact, the acting chief judge of the state has set up a mediation panel to look into the matter and submit report this week Friday,” he said.

“As a matter of fact, I am the secretary of the panel, so for now, I will advise you to wait until the report of the panel is out as I cannot speak on the matter for now.”

Attempts to speak with Onyebueke were fruitless as she neither answered calls nor responded to text messages.

JUDGE’S HUSBAND DENIES THE ALLEGATIONS

But the judge’s husband, who is a lawyer and head of F. O. Onyebueke & Co Chambers in Calabar, the state capital, told TheCable over the phone, that the claims were untrue.

He said without hearing the side of his wife, the driver’s family chose to circulate falsehood online.

“They did not even hear from my wife or myself, they did not ask any question, they just went ahead to do a video and put on social media, is that fair,” he said.

“They are in America, not in Nigeria; they did not even witness what they claimed happened. All they kept saying was that they were told, they were told. It’s just unfortunate. Right now, the matter is before the police, they took us to the police and also the acting chief judge has set up a panel of which we are going to appear before.”

When asked to react to the allegation of assault, he said: “My brother, what I can tell you is that it was a domestic matter. It was one of my sons that was involved and not two as claimed in that video.”

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DEMANDS PROBE

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for thorough investigation into the allegation.

Tony Ojukwu, executive secretary of NHRC, made the call in a statement on the alleged torture.

“Information reaching the Commission, revealed that since assumption of duty, the driver has perpetually been subjected to a series of inhuman and degrading treatments. These degrading treatments ranged from verbal, physical assaults and other forms of oppression. This particular one has left him with a broken rib, legs and bruised eye. There’s no justification for any form of human rights violation by anybody, especially those looked upon as the custodians of the law based on fairness and equity,” Ojukwu said.

The panel set up by the acting chief judge of the state was sitting at the time this report was filed.

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