•We will get to the bottom of allegation – CP Ezike
By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Last Sunday, a policeman, Sergeant Chijioke Okorie, was mobbed in Amandugba in Isu Local Government Area of Imo State for allegedly shooting to death a hotel guest.
The victim was identified as Ojiegbe Azuoku.
Fracas had ensued at the hotel at about 8:45pm, leading to the deployment of policemen from the nearby Isu Divisional Police headquarters.
A source said that upon the arrival of the police at the hotel, Sergeant Okorie fired at the crowd, killing Azuoku instantly.
Angered by the action, the source said a mob descended on the policeman and beat him to death.
Imo State Police Command Public Relations Officer, SP Andrew Enwerem, confirmed the deaths and disclosed that investigation into the incident had commenced.
According to him, the state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, had ordered that normalcy be restored in the area and the arrest of everyone involved in the jungle justice.
Enwerem said: “As a command, we condemn the unwarranted opening of fire on people but also frown at jungle justice. We have begun the process of identifying those who administered jungle justice in this incident for arrest as ordered by the CP”.
Criminality like the one that happened in Amandugba is commonplace in Imo.
So bad was the situation that, in September 2017, Governor Rochas Okorocha described the state as the headquarters of kidnapping.
At that time, robbers had twice attacked the state House of Assembly complex and carted away valuables and vital documents.
Some natives were said to be behind the criminality and getting protection from unscrupulous policemen.
For instance, penultimate Wednesday, scores of villagers from Umuowa-Ibu in Okigwe Local Government Area of the state embarked on a march to the state Police Command headquarters in Owerri in protest against what they described as the incessant kidnapping of their children by their kinsman (names withheld) alleged to be enjoying police protection.
Led by the President General of the town union, Benjamin Emere, the natives, made up of men, women and youths, alleged that the kinsman had, of recent, kidnapped three persons whose fate was unknown.
Emere listed the victims as little Chisom Nnadi (two years old); Chinonso Okorie (two years old) and Ekene Odoemela, in his 30s.
According to him, there were witnesses to prove that the kinsman kidnapped the victims.
The town union President General said the suspected kidnap kingpin was arrested following the complaint made against him to the police only for him to be released, saying he has since continued to harass the villagers.
“The suspected kidnapper threatens every now and then that he will deal with us. We live in the fear of the unknown”, he added.
The natives called on Imo State Commissioner of Police, Ezike, to intervene.
They also called for the release of a fellow villager arrested by the police following a false complaint allegedly lodged by the suspected kidnapper.
Emere said, “The parents of the missing children are living in agony and perpetual discomfort. One of our brothers, Edwin Obijiaku, is also being held in police custody as we write and the suspected kidnapper is allegedly working to have him remanded in prison custody”.
Murder of pastor who flew to Nigeria to bury father
In another development, the kidnapping and murder of Rev. Father Cyriacus Onunkwo of the Orlu Catholic Diocese allegedly by 32-year-old ex-corporal Jude Madu turned the heat on the police. Onunkwo had returned home from abroad for the funeral rites of his father, Celestine Onunkwo, before he was kidnapped and killed.
Others who allegedly participated in the crime were Izuchukwu Okafor, 28, from Ukwukwa in Azia, Anambra State; Cyril Onyema, 29, from Okwelle, Imo State; Emmanuel Ozuigbo, 29, Ezeagu, Enugu State; Victor Ikechukwu, 33, from Obowo, Imo State; and Ifechukwu Nwosu, 28, from Azia, Anambra State.
Ezike, the state Commissioner of Police, said the telephone and wrist watch of the slain priest were recovered from two of the suspects.
Ezike alleged: “The police team, using forensic technology, arrested former Corporal Jude Madu who was found in possession of the late Rev Fr Onunkwo’s Infinix telephone handset”.
Meanwhile, Imo people jubilated when the state Police Command shot to death a suspected armed robbery kingpin, Ihechi Nwankwo.
Nwankwo, who hailed from Amaumara in Ezinihitte Local Government Area, had been on the wanted list of the police for a while.
Police spokesperson, Enwerem, had said Nwankwo was declared wanted following his alleged involvement in separate robberies of N8m and N650, 000 at Ahiara Junction on August 8 and June 21, 2017 respectively.
Nwankwo was also said to have masterminded the robbery attack on a Chinese in Owerri in May 2017 during which the N10million the victim had just withdrawn from a bank was snatched and his police orderly, an Inspector, killed.
The spokesperson said the elder brother of Nwankwo, Chibuike, 42, and one Chukwudi Obinwanne, were being held by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, for alleged bank robbery cases.
Pastor arrested during church service for alleged robbery
In another incident, 36-year- old Michael Chiedozie Anochima, founder of Jesus The Rock Of Salvation Healing Ministry, Uratta in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State, was arrested by operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, following his alleged involvement in the February 22, 2017 robbery attack on a new generation bank which left two policemen and one of the robbers dead.
Anochima was arrested on a Sunday while officiating in a church service.
He was allegedly named by a suspect arrested in connection with the robbery, Chinonso Onwugbuchlam, popularly called Ogolo, as the gang’s armour bearer.
Ogolo was said to have named the pastor as the one who also prayed for their protection, and evade being caught by the police.
Police Commissioner Ezike confirmed the arrest of Anochima, saying it was a big breakthrough for the command.
Ezike also confirmed that two suspected kidnapping kingpins were in police custody. The suspects had allegedly kidnapped a lady in Agwa in Oguta LGA.
He also displayed 2, 615 guns and firearms recovered through voluntary submission and arrests to the media.
The breakdown of the recoveries include 168 guns; 99 cartridges; 2,323 ammunitions; 25 empty magazines consisting of 19 English pistols; 19 locally made pistols and 36 guns; 9 AK 47 rifles; and 2 AR 70 rifles.
According to him, the mop up exercise had led to “a reduction in the number of light and small but dangerous weapons in the hands of criminals; a reduction in crimes of various dimensions like kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism/cult related violence and brigandage”.
The time for voluntary submission of arms, Ezike said, had been extended to allow more people to submit them, even as he noted that the police use persuasion and mediation to make people submit their firearms.
The police boss stated that suspects arrested in connection with arms recoveries that were not voluntarily made were facing charges in court.
He told residents to be vigilant as criminals now waylay late returnees from work, saying it was a new tactic adopted by robbers.
“I advise late returnees to watch the corners of their house before alighting from their cars or honk their horns for the gate to be opened for them. Miscreants now use it as a new device to gain access and hold people to ransom right in their homes”, Ezike warned.
Governor Okorocha is appreciative of the efforts of the police to drastically reduce crime rate in Imo.
Okorocha spoke during the commissioning of the vehicles refurbished by the state government for the police.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Uche Nwosu, he stated that since the assumption of office of Ezike as the state Commissioner of Police, the security agency had reduced criminal activities in the state to the barest minimum.
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