More revelations are emerging on how four University of Port Harcourt undergraduates were killed as a suspect in custody, David Ugbaje, Tuesday accused a policeman of participating in the lynching of the deceased.
He said the policeman joined the mob in the killing of the four students at Omuokiri, Aluu, in Rivers State on October 5.
Also yesterday, the police announced that they had arrested the fleeing principal suspect in the murder, Lucky, alias Bright, who raised the false alarm that labelled the students as armed robbers, which prompted the rage of the mob.
Lucky was said to owe one of the victims some money and they had gone on a debt-recovery mission, when he accused the deceased of trying to rob him.
Ugbaje told journalists Tuesday in Port Harcourt, when the police paraded him and 12 other suspects for their alleged involvement in the crime, that one of the policemen who met them when the mob was beating the students joined them in beating the victims.
He explained that it was after the policeman had partaken in the beating that he requested that the students be handed over to them, a request which the mob refused.
As Ugbaje narrated, “along the line, two policemen came around. One of the policemen was pleading that the boys be left alone, but the other one even joined us in beating the boys. After beating the boys, the policemen now said let the boys be handed over to them. The crowd said no: We no go gree. The policemen now told us that whatever this will result to, they (the crowd) will bear the consequences.”
Ugbaje’s narrative tallied with the eyewitness account of Miss Ibisobia Elkanah, an elder sister of one of the victims, Tekenah Friday Elkanah. Ibisobia said the police were not repelled by the mob as claimed by them (police), but that one of the policemen suggested that the victims be burnt alive.
“The police van came, went into the mob and they were talking to them (youths). The people kept quiet as the police were making statements. I heard them laughing. You know, they were happy. They kept quiet again. The police talked and they laughed again. The next was for me to see three policemen coming out of the mob, boarded their van. And, one of the said ‘burn them alive’. I must confess, I was gripped with fear,” she said.
But the police’s storyline has been that they were chased back by the murderous mob, forcing them to call for reinforcement from the Joint Task Force (JTF). However, men of the JTF did not come until several hours after the students had been killed and burnt.
The police had earlier announced the arrest of 21 suspects in connection with the crime, including the traditional ruler of the community.
Those paraded included the traditional ruler of Omokiri village, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, Lawal Segun, Lucky Orji, Cynthia Chinwo, Ekpe Daniel, George Nwadei, Gabriel Oche and Ozioma Abajuo.
Others were Chigozie Evans Samuel, Endurance Edet, Uwem Sampson Akpabio, David Chinasa Ugbaje and Ikechukwu Louis Amadi (alias Kapoon).
However, while the police allowed journalists to interview Ugbaje, Amadi and Segun, other suspects, especially Welewa, were shielded from the press.
Briefing journalists, the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Indabawa, said the police arrested two additional suspects, Amadi and Ugbaje, at about 3pm on Monday.
He said the police were forced to parade the suspects because of the enormity of the crime and the interest the crime had generated.
“It is not the philosophy of the Inspector General of Police to parade suspects. Nonetheless, the gruesome manner in which the crime was committed, coupled with the direct and glaring involvement of some of these suspects and the interest generated by the heinous crime left the police with no option than to parade them,” he said.
The Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, had ordered a full investigation into the crime.