- Aide denies incident as c’ttee establishes assault
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Controller General (CG) of Prisons, Dr. Peter Ezenwa Ekpendu, has appealed to the House of Representatives for an amicable resolution of the assault on Hon. Mkrapor Onyemaechi by one of his aides last Wednesday.
This is as the aide in question, Senior Inspector Idah Odeh, denied hitting Mkrapor despite being identified by at least two witnesses.
Ekpendu, speaking at the fact-finding hearing conducted by the House Committee on Interior yesterday, described the incident as barbaric and embarrassing.
“Sometimes some of these boys are overzealous, but please whatever it is, try and help us to resolve this matter amicably,” he said.
He had earlier denied knowledge of any alteration between the officers in his convoy and Mkrapor, as the vehicle bearing him had already gone ahead.
The controller general read about the incident as it broke last Thursday, he said, adding that the cars in the convoy were six.
The pilot vehicle, his vehicle and back up vehicle had all gone through the (MOPOL) gate before the Tundra vehicle bearing the lawmaker attempted to overtake the remaining three vehicles, and was blocked by one of them.
Ekpendu added that he had already commenced investigation into the incident and had directed some of the officers involved to report to the Divisional Police Officer, National Assembly, to write their statements.
The CG however drew the ire of the committee for issuing a statement at the weekend denying that any altercation happened, while investigations were still ongoing.
The committee headed by Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba heard from several witnesses that the lawmaker’s vehicle was speeding and was being flagged to stop by security agencies at the gate.
The committee also established that Deputy CG, Budget, and Finance, Mr. Kangiwa Shehu, were the ones who banged on the lawmaker’s vehicle. Kangiwa was absent from the hearing as according to the CG, he had travelled on an official assignment.
The sergent-at-arms, Mr. Chike Igbo, said Onyemaechi vehicle had no plate number, and was fully tinted.
He confirmed that after the vehicle was stopped, a prison officer did indeed poked his finger into the face of the lawmaker, hitting her in the face.
“Her glasses fell down,” he said, and identified Odeh, when asked to identify the person who hit the lawmaker in the face by the committee.
A female corporal also identified Odeh as the person who assaulted Mkrapor when she rolled down her window glass.
Mkrapor, in her narration, said her driver made to overtake the vehicle and was blocked.
She noted that when some of the prison officials started to bang on her car, she instructed her orderly not to disembark.
“Because people have been harassing my orderly since the incident. I asked him not to get down because he was armed and anything could have happened,” she said.
Onyemaechi also identified Odeh as the person who poked her in the face.
Meanwhile, while Odeh insisted he did not assault the lawmaker, no one present corroborated his claim.
Despite being reminded that he was under oath, Odeh said he did not get out of the Hilux van bearing him and other escorts.
The driver of the Hilux van, when queried by the lawmakers, said he was not aware if Odeh got out of the van or not.
The DPO, National Assembly, Nancy Ajasana, said the findings of the police over the alleged assault is ‘inconclusive’ and arrests have not been made.
“They (police officers at the gate) were not able to establish that she was a lawmaker as she didn’t have her ID card and her vehicle did not have a plate number,” Ajasana said, adding that such altercations were a daily occurrence at the gate.
The committee members however pointed out that it is not an offence to overtake a convoy.