By Dennis Agbo
Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Mohammed, in this interview, speaks on the investigation of the death of Igwe Stephen Nwatu, the traditional ruler of Ogbozinne-Akpugo autonomous community, who died after a mob attack.
How true is the claim that your command is working at cross purposes with the FSARS in Lagos on the investigation of the death of Igwe Nwatu of Ogbozinne-Akpugo?
It is wrong to say that we are working at cross purposes because it is one Nigeria Police. We have our procedure and we have standards. FSARS Lagos is under Force CID with a DIG in charge. So whenever they come to take over cases from any command, not only in Enugu, they usually come with official letters endorsed by the officers in charge of their departments or units.
In this case, did they come with an official letter?
They did. They came with investigation activity letter, we endorsed and they went and made the arrest because that arrest was legal.
Why are bank accounts of people from the community being frozen? Was there any financial fraud involved in the matter?
Let me tell you one thing, all these publications are being sponsored by the principal suspects we are looking for in the killing of Igwe Stephen. They are people who have already been declared wanted. They know what they did and they now think the best way they can help themselves is by resorting to false publications and, as far as I am concerned, that cannot help them. The earlier they come out and surrender the better. This is a group of criminals who conspired among themselves, killed an innocent man and somebody is saying they should not be investigated. People who decided to take the law into their hands, no we cannot allow this to happen.
Is it because they are wanted that the police froze their accounts?
Which people’s accounts were frozen? They should tell you, name them.
Maybe you should tell us whose accounts you have frozen?
No, because, as far as I am concerned, that publication is false.
Are you saying the police did not freeze anybody’s account on the matter?
Who? They should mention names and addresses. We don’t operate that way. Somebody is making an allegation against the police as an institution. We expect them to come up with the name of the bank accounts, their numbers and we cross check, but, as far as I am concerned, its false publication.
You said the Igwe was murdered innocently, but he reportedly died in the hospital after a mob action. Does that translate to murder?
Of course yes. Some people gathered and beat him up and we have an autopsy report which revealed that he died as a result of that injuries inflicted on him. He lost a lot of blood. The mob inflicted severe injuries on his body and, by the time he was taken to hospital, he gave up the ghost.
Somebody’s legs were reportedly crushed by the traditional ruler which brought about the mob action. Why is it that the police have not gone to that man for investigation?
As we talk, nobody has complained to me that his legs were crushed. My take here is that they want to build up a defence which does not hold water. If there was somebody whose legs were crushed, which police station did he report the matter to? What is his name with fixed address?
In the course of you investigation, did you hear that the late traditional ruler was a tyrant with so many allegations against him?
Let us assume he was a tyrant, a terrorist who they said was terrorising his people, was it enough for people to gather and take the law into their hands and beat him to death? Can they justify that as a legal action? Is there any written law which gives you power when somebody is behaving with impunity that you should pounce on him and beat the hell out of him. So what is the essence of establishing police stations and courts?
How come the Igwe was with policemen when he was beaten up and the police couldn’t save him?
He was coming from court and the mob intercepted him. A ‘Good Samaritan’ alerted the police and the police came to rescue him but it was too late. By the time they came, the man was already beaten to stupor.
We learnt he had always had protection?
That is not to my knowledge. That lawyer who said the police are working at cross purposes is a lair. We are working hand-in-hand with FSARS and, at the end of the day, whatever they do in Lagos, the prosecution will still take place here in Enugu, the venue of the offence.
So why was the investigation transferred to Lagos?
You need to ask the lawyer of the family because I asked them the same question. Despite all we are doing, we declared these people wanted, we arrested some, we charged them to court, we are still looking for some other people, why did you decide to go to Lagos and they said they have the fear I might be compromised. I said not me.
They claimed you are blocking investigation into the matter.
How? And now the same suspects they are alleging that I declared wanted, blocked their accounts, and the complainant is saying I have compromised. Compare the two, do they tally? You should know the man is beating about the bush.