By Ugochukwu Alaribe, UMUAHIA
The Police in Abia State has arrested one of its officers identified as Corporal Chinedu Nwachukwu, for allegedly raping a student of the State Polytechnic, in Aba.
Academic activities have been halted at the Polytechnic as students took over the Aba -Owerri road protesting the alleged rape of three students by Policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad, RRS.
Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Abia State Command, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, in a statement, expressed regret over the disgraceful act allegedly committed by the policemen.
“After visiting the victim at the hospital and obtaining information from her, an investigation was launched which led to the arrest of the suspect. The Commissioner of Police, CP Janet Agbede, being a woman and a mother has been on her toes with other officers in the command to douse the tension and to find out what actually happened.
“The Commissioner of Police and her management team visited and listened to the victim in the hospital. After hearing from the victim, a serious investigation started through which the policeman, Cpl. Nwachukwu Chinedu that committed the barbaric act was arrested but not attached to Rapid Response Squad Aba (RRS) as alleged by the protesters.
“The Commissioner of Police appeals to Abia Polytechnic community and the general public to exercise patience and wait for the outcome of Police investigation which is ongoing and would be fast-tracked and made public to ensure justice and actually the law will take its course.” On how the investigation commenced, the statement read;
“On 23 September 2021 at about 0915hrs, the Area Commander of Aba received information that students of Abia State Polytechnic were on protest along with Aba/Owerri Aba.
The Area Commander and his personnel along with other security agencies met the protesters. The students were advised not to carry on with the protest.
The Area Commander met the School Acting Rector, Associate Professor Kalu Osonwa Okorie on the campus.
The Area Commander further advised the students to be peaceful and law-abiding.
He also urged students of the Polytechnic to be law-abiding and peaceful in their protest and avoid a violent confrontation with law enforcement officers.
Heavy gunfire rocks Abia Polytechnic
Meanwhile, students of the polytechnic were said to have insisted on the protest till justice is done on the matter. They also shunned appeals by the management of the institution and the Police to shelve the protest.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the Police started firing shots to disperse students from the Aba –Owerri road. In the ensuing encounter, many students were injured and motorists deserted the area.
Gov. Ikpeazu decries shooting by some police officers at Abia polytechnic
Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has condemned the shooting at the Abia State Polytechnic, Aba during a protest by students of the institution.
The Governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, noted that the action of the Policemen was uncalled for and could aggravate the tense situation at the institution which could lead to collateral damages.
In his words; “Shooting at unarmed students who were protesting the alleged sexual assault of one of them by a police officer is against all known and recognized rules of engagement by law enforcement officers who could have employed other means other than deadly force to disperse the protesting students.”
While noting that the State Government was already looking into the issues that led to protests which created a huge traffic jam along Aba Owerri Road, the Governor insisted that the use of deadly force by the Police was completely unacceptable to the State Government and out rightly condemnable.
Ikpeazu directed the State Police Commissioner and the Area Commander in charge of Aba to ensure that the policemen who were involved in the shooting are identified and disciplined in line with extant Police regulations, while further ensuring that such display of disproportionate force doesn’t happen again.
The Governor also advised the students to be disciplined and avoid taking the law into their hands even while protesting, adding that they must at all times, exercise restraint when confronted by Police Officers who are on lawful duty.
Ikpeazu further warned that while the State Government will not condone the use of excessive force by Policemen, any student who, under the guise of a protest, chooses to unlawfully confront an armed police officer must be prepared to face the consequences.
“Under no circumstances must students confront police officers who are engaged in their lawful duties. The Police have a responsibility under the law to ensure that peaceful protests by students are not hijacked by hoodlums whose intentions are different from that of the students.”