Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Confusion has enveloped the Rivers State Police Command as a suspected ritual killer, Ifeanyichukwu Maxwell Dike, escaped from police detention shortly after he was taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Port Harcourt.
The 23-year-old Dike was arrested at Eliozu Community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers last Saturday by men of the Okporo Police Station.
According to a statement by the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Omoni Nnamdi (DSP), Dike abducted one eight-year-old Chikamso Victory, of the same address.
Nnamdi explained: â€œThe little girl was abducted, defiled and killed, while her vagina, eyes, tongue and breast were removed and put in a polythene bag. The suspect was going to dispose of the body, when he was arrested by the local vigilante that suspected his movement.
â€œOn being questioned, the suspect dropped the bag and took to flight. Consequently, he was given a hot chase and arrested. On further interrogation by the Police, he confessed and took the Police to where the vital organs were concealed. The body and the organs have been recovered, paraded and deposited in the mortuary. While the suspect is helping us in Investigation.â€
But contrary to what the PPRO said, when the suspect was taken to the state CID, the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), one Johnbosco, reportedly removed the handcuff that was on Dike to take his statement.
As he was leading the suspect to the cell, he ran away and all efforts to catch him failed.
The father of the victim, Dr. Ernest Nmezuwuba, narrated: â€œAfter taking the corpse to the State CID with the suspect handcuffed, the Inspector that led me there; the commissioner (CP) said I should come and that they should officially hand this case to the state CID, which I followed up.
“Reaching there, I saw the DSP in charge of the place, we explained to him what happened and the man shouted.
â€œHe (DSP) called one Johnbosco to record everything and take statement. We were there with the suspect in handcuff. When we got to the state CID, there was no light in the entire State CID. I wrote my statement with candle; imagine a whole state CID. The Johnbosco removed the handcuff from the suspectâ€™s hand for him (suspect) to write his statement.
â€œAt a point, the boy (Dike) said he was thirsty and Johnbosco said I should buy pure water for him and I asked him; are you crazy? Is something wrong with you? Why would you ask me to buy water for a person that killed my daughter? Why would I buy water for a ritualist? And I told Johnbosco that it was none of my business.
â€œSome policemen were at the gate with guns while we were at the charge room writing statement. After we finished writing our statement, Johnbosco called the IPO to go and put the suspect in the cell. The suspect was not handcuffed at that time.
â€œThey did not walk up to a pole when I heard hold am, hold am. He has escaped. Whether he jumped the fence or not, I cannot say because the entire place was dark; it was around 7.30 to 8p.m. I now told Johnbosco that you know what you are doing.
â€œThey (policemen) came out with torchlight and checked under the cars parked there. Then I saw the DCP, I mean the Deputy Commissioner of Police and he said; what nonsense is this? He then asked of Johnbosco and he was told he was inside. The DCP then said that they should handcuff both his hands and legs. The DCP asked Johnbosco if he had ever seen where any policeman has removed handcuff from the hands of an arrested ritualist. He ordered that Johnbosco be thrown in the cell and immediately informed the CP.â€
A distraught Nmezuwuba believes the police colluded to ensure the escape of the suspected ritual killer.
â€œI cannot understand this country; this must be a planned game and I must fight it to the end. They have to provide that suspect. The Rivers State Police must provide him while Johnbosco should remain in detention. This incident has proved the kind of country we are living. What is going to happen in this particular matter; honestly speaking, heaven will hear it. The whole world will hear it.
â€œThis boy (suspect) is related to me; we are from the same village. He killed my daughter inside his room. The landlord is my in-law and also his own in-law. The landlord was arrested and the same day, they released him (landlord) with N50,000. The name of the landlord is Pius Nwoko. I went to him and he told me this,â€ he lamented.
But reacting to the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, confirmed the incident but denied any collusion.
Speaking on a radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt Monday, Ahmed said: â€œWhat I am saying is that it was individual negligence that caused it. The escape happened in the presence of the complainant; that is the parent of the deceased. The boy (suspect) escaped under the cover of the night. But we are making every effort, every move and by the grace of the Almighty God, within a short time, he will be arrested. We are not relenting. We know that this is a serious problem; it can happen to anybody.
â€œIt is too bad it happened, but it is one of those things. Sometimes, things can happen this way. We have moved a lot of resources, both human and material resources, to ensure that the culprit is arrested. We call on the people to confide in us if they have any useful information. I will act on it.â€