By Anayo Okoli
Umuahiaâ€” ABIA State Police Command, yesterday maintained its ground that the four men killed by its men on Monday, at Ntigha in Isiala Ngwa on the Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt Express way, were criminal suspects until the command completes its investigation.
The police position came on a day the Amuzukwu community, the home of one of the slain men, Mr Chibueze Ibezim,Â Â protested the killing of their son, whom they said was not a criminal. Two of the slain men,Â were from Ibeku in Umuahia, one from Ngwa land while the policeman was said to beÂ a native of Taraba State.
Those killed were Chibueze Ibezim, about 36 years; a trader, Mr. Nlewe Azunna, about 40, a panel beater with five children; Mr. Innocent Punjab, about 30 and a motor mechanic, as well as Aki Imade, a police constableÂ attached to a hotel in Umuahia,Â who escorted the vehicle in which the men rode.
The police had on Monday,Â said that its men killed four suspected criminals as part of its effort to rid the state of criminals and had gone ahead to parade their corpses before newsmen.
Meanwhile, Mr. Emmanuel Ibezim, Chibuezeâ€™s father has called on the police to carry out a thorough investigation into the killing, to ensure that the policemen who killed the innocent citizens were brought to book.
Also, both the traditional ruler of Amuzukwu, Eze Onyebuchi Ugwu,Â the traditional Prime Minister of the Ibeku Kingdom, chief Uche Akukwuegbu and the member representing Umuahia Central in the Abia State House of Assembly, had expressed shock over the killing of the men. They all blamed the police, saying that they wereÂ reckless in their use of guns.
Speaking at different occasions, they condemned the killing and testified that the slain citizens were not criminals but people known to them and who were engaged in legitimate means of livelihood. They called for a thorough investigation into the killings, to ensure that the policemen were brought to book.
Akukwuegbu, also accused the Mobile Policemen from Mopol 55 based in Nsulu,Â of being reckless, alleging that they almost killed him and his wife recently.
But the police through its spokesman, Mr. Ali Okechukwu said the police would not shift grounds on its position for now, until investigation was completed because according to him, the â€œpolicemen acted based the challenging situation of the momentâ€™.
Okechukwu, however, said that based on the claim of Mr. Chimobi, who said that the menÂ were his people, the Police Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Johnson,Â had ordered an investigation into the killings and called on interested parties to exercise patience while the investigation is rounded up.