BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME, EGUFE YAFUGBORHI & NNAMDI OJIEGO
PORT HARCOURT – Thirteen suspects arrested in connection with the killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt will be arraigned in court today.This was made known in Port Harcourt yesterday by Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Muhammed Ndabawa.
This came as parents of two of the four deceased students petitioned Rivers State House of Assembly, RVHA, calling for trial of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, at the Isiokpo Police Division Headquarters, for faililg to avert the lynching of their children.
Also, literary icon, Captain Elechi Amadi (rtd), has absolved his Aluu community of complicity in the killing of the four students of the University of Port Harcourt at Omuokiri-Aluu clan, even as Rivers State chapter of Trade Union Congress, TUC, condemned the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Joseph Ajienka, for displacing Head of Philosophy Department, Dr. Andrew Efemini, for joining students’ protest against the killings.
Human rights group, Youth and Conflict Resolution Initiatives, YCRI, also called for the immediate sack of Rivers State Commissioner of Police for his inability to coordinate the fallout of the killings.
Police parade suspects
The Police Commissioner spoke yesterday at the Police Headquarters in Port Harcourt, while parading the suspects. Three of the suspects, who were allowed to field questions from newsmen, confessed that policemen arrived Omuokiri-Aluu community before the four students were murdered.
One of the suspects, Mr David Ugbaje, said he saw two policemen when the four students were being beaten, adding that one of them pleaded that the boys should be set free.
He said the other policeman joined the mob in beating the students.
According to him, the four students were accused of robbery, adding that the mob marched the four students to a compound on Coca-Cola Street to confirm if they truly went there to see a tenant, Mr Bright, as they alleged.
Ugbaje, a cobbler, said he and other neighbours in the compound had to push the riotous mob out of the compound where Bright lived when it became obvious that the mob wanted to lynch them there.
He said the man they allegedly went to see was not at home.
When asked if he did not join in beating the students, he said he only hit the students twice.
Ikechuckwu Louis Amadi and Lawal Segun in their separate comments, also said they saw policemen at the scene of the sad incident.
Lawal, a taxi driver, said he was not part of the mob that murdered the students but claimed to have pleaded with the mob to release the students.
On his part, Amadi said he saw four police men while the students were being beaten, adding that the angry mob insisted they were not going to release the boys to the policemen.
Others paraded were Alhaji Hassan Welewa, 59; Lucky Orji, 43 ; Cynthia Chinwo (F), 24; Ekpe Daniel, 30; George Nwadei, 30; Gabriel Oche 33; Ozioma Abajuo, 23; Chigozie Samuel, 22; Endurance Edet, 27 and Uwem Akpabio, 30.
Parents petition Rivers House
Meanwhile, the joint petition from the parents of Tekena Elkanah and Lloyd Michael, which was presented at yesterday’s sitting of the House by Belema Okpokiri, member representing Okrika Constituency, noted that the Isiokpo DPO whose jurisdiction coverered Aluu where the killings were carried out should be held responsible.
The petitioners held that evidences abound on the culpability of the DPO and his Division over the killings at Aluu, citing the accounts of Lloyd’s mother, Mrs. Jane Toku Mike, and Tekena’s sister who said she watched the police encourage the cheering mob to lynch and burn his brother and three friends alive, instead of rescuing them.
Okpokiri urged the house to give the petition urgent attention as the petitioners and his entire constituency were on his neck to ensure that justice was done over the killings
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Dan Amachree, however, referred the matter to the Public Complaints and Petitions Committee to work on it and come up with recommendations to the general House for further debate and decision.
The four students killed by the mob include Chidiaka Biringa, Llyod Michael, Tekena Elkanah and Ugonna Ibuzor.