By KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA — Following Police investigation into the killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt at Aluu recently, the traditional ruler of the community where the gruesome murders were carried out, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, has been arrested alongside 20 other suspects.
This came on a day Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, NUPENG, called for the arrest and prosecution of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Aluu where the killings took place.
Giving an update on the investigation, Force spokesman, CSP Frank Mba, noted that some of the suspects arrested were those identified in the video footage of the murder, adding that those directly responsible for the murder included Felemo Solomon, Cynthia Chinwo, Oziomo Abajuwo and Chigozie Samuel Evans, while one Segun Lawal, aged 28, is on the run.
How the students were killed, by Police
A statement from the Office of the Inspector General of Police presented by the Force spokesman read: “On October 5, 2012 at about 0700 hrs, based on a distress call that some armed robbers were arrested at Omukiri-Aluu area in Ikwerre LGA, a patrol team of four policemen from Isiokpo Divisional Police Headquarters was dispatched to the area, a distance of about 10 kilometres.
“The police on getting to the scene, met a mob attack on four victims who were supposedly the suspected armed robbers. Attempt made by the police patrol team to take over the suspects was met with stiff opposition from the mob who chased the team with stones.
“Consequently, the patrol team called for reinforcement, but unfortunately, upon the arrival of the reinforcement, the alleged armed robbery suspects had been stoned and burnt to death, while the mob immediately took to their heels.
“The corpses were recovered by the police who by then had been joined by members of the Joint Task Force (JTF).
“‘The victims were later identified to be students of the University of Port Harcourt. They are namely: Ugunna Obuzor, aged 18, a 200 level Geology student; Lloyd Toku, 19, a 200 Level Civil Engineering student; Tekena Elkanah, 20, a Diploma Technical student and Chiadaka Odinga, 20, a 200 level Theatre Arts student.
“The police immediately launched an investigation leading to the arrest (based on information) of Alhaji Hassan Welewa, the traditional ruler of Omukiri Community, Aluu, where the heinous incident took place and 18 others, some of who are members of the vigilante group of the community.
“Intelligence report implicated Alhaji Hassan Welewa as being the person who incited the mob to unleash terror on the victims. Further investigation conducted by the police indicates that four suspects, namely: Felemo Solomon; Cynthia Chinwo; Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Samuel Evans, have been closely linked to this barbarous act.
“Findings have revealed that the victims had gone to the area where they met their unfortunate death earlier that morning to demand for money allegedly owed them by Coxson Lelebori Lucky, alias ‘Bright’, who raised a false alarm that the victims were armed robbers. Although Coxson has gone underground, detectives are on his trail.
“Investigation is ongoing with efforts being intensified to track down others who are involved in the incident. Those who are found culpable shall be prosecuted.”
Massive deployment of Policemen
Meanwhile, the police said “massive deployment of Policemen has been made to the area, including detectives to assist the State Police Command.
“Normalcy has been restored in the area, while the situation, especially in the university and other tertiary institutions, is being closely monitored with a view to forestalling any untoward reactions.”
Emphasizing that efforts were being intensified to establish the motive(s) behind the crime, arrest all who might be directly or indirectly connected with the crime and eventually bring all indicted persons to book, the police statement appealed to Nigerians to see it as their civic obligation in the fight against crime and criminality, to assist security agencies in the discharge of their responsibility.
It said: “Security is everybody’s responsibility and so, should not be abandoned in the hands of security agencies alone. The maximum cooperation of the public is needed to ensure that Nigeria is safe for all.
“Nigerians are further reminded to avoid taking laws into their hands, as two wrongs can never make a right. More so, it is criminal and against the laws of the land and those that do so will surely be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
It also appealed to citizens who might have information on this and other ongoing police investigations not to turn in such information to the police, assuring Nigerians that the Force will do everything legitimate within its capacity, to ensure that perpetrators of the dastardly acts at Aluu, Rivers State, were identified and made to face the law.
NUPENG demands DCP, DPO’s trial
Meanwhile, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, NUPENG, yesterday, called for the arrest and prosecution of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Aluu where the killings took place.
President of NUPENG, Comrade Achese Igwe, noted in a statement that the murder of the unfortunate UNIPORT four was carried out with so much impunity that the police authorities charged with policing the community where it happened could not go unquestioned.
He said: “You can see the video footages. It was a broad daylight murder. It was not in the night that the DPO would claim there was difficulty in rising to the occasion.
“The police should take responsibility and say there was a failure in policing at that moment. We are demanding that the DPO in charge be arrested and prosecuted.”
Achese, who called for a formal public apology from the police over its failure to avert the jungle justice resulting in the murder of the four, also called for trial of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (CID) Rivers State, Sam Okaulu, for saying the police were prompt in responding to the killings.
He noted: “I listened to the media where the Deputy Commissioner (CID) was saying that the police were prompt in response. That is false information at that level in policing. He too should be prosecuted.”
Rivers ACN calls for UNIPORT VC’s sack
Also reacting to the development, Rivers State chapter of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, called for the sack of Prof. Joseph Ajienka, Vice Chancellor of UNIPORT, for displacing the institution’s Acting Head of Department (HOD), Philosophy, Dr. Andrew Efemini, for his involvement in a students’ protest following the killings in Aluu.
The party in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jerry Needam, described the action of the VC as “irrational, unlawful, condemnable and provocative.”
UNIPORT’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Dr. William Wodi, who confirmed the HOD’s removal, however, described the ACN’s statement as baseless, claiming that the action followed due process in a decision reached at an emergency session of the university’s Senate.