By Chinonso Alozie
OWERRI—WOMEN and youths from Umuowa-Ibu community in Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State, Wednesday, protested for the second time in two months, over incessant kidnapping of their children and insecurity in their community, alleging that the Police released a notorious kidnap suspect after collecting N5 million bribe from him.
During the protest, women and youths from the community blocked Imo Police Command Headquarters, insisting that the suspect be re-arrested and tried as they have evidence to prove that he was responsible for the recent kidnapping of three children in the community.
Vanguard had reported in February this year that Umuowa- Ibu women protested against “incessant kidnapping” of toddlers in their community, an incident they said started in 2015.
This is coming at a time the Imo state commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike, boasted that “there is calm in Imo communities.”
During the protest, the apparently troubled women and youths circulated a protest letter signed by their President-General, Mr. Benjamin Emere; Vice-President, Mr. Jonas Egbu; Secretary, Mr. Cosmos Arogu; Woman Leader, Mrs. Helen Akazie and Youth Leader, Mr. Uchechukwu Okorie, in which they alleged that the police took N5 million bribe from the suspect who is also from Umuowa-Ibu community and let him off the hook.
The letter stated: “With a devastated mind, we write to draw the attention of the CP to a serious case of kidnapping in our community. Our children, Chisom Nnadi, Ekene and one other little girl were kidnapped in our community.
“All fingers and investigation pointed towards the suspect. We have witnesses to back up our claim .
“The matter was handled by the anti -kidnap unit. Painfully, the suspect was released and he has returned to the community, bragging that he got off the hook after giving the police N5 million.”
Reacting, Ezike said: “Criminality is not by suspicion, it is by evidence. Justice is for everybody. It is their right to protest but I have asked the Security Intelligence Bureau of the command to investigate the bribery allegation.
“We have arraigned those who destroyed the houses of the accused while he was in our custody for malicious damage.
“The court remanded one today. More arrests are on the way . It took us to the extent of going to the accused house to do excavation. Yet, there was no trace that the missing persons were in his compound.”