By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The people of Ntigha Okpuala in Isiala Ngwa North local government of Abia State have called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure a thorough investigation of the alleged killing of three young men by mobile policemen and prosecute those found culpable.
The call was made in Umuahia at a press conference addressed by the community leaders, Chiefs Obioma Onyenso, Daniel Njoku, Omerenma Ubani with a constitutional lawyer, Dr. Anthony Agbazuere.
According to them, there were surreptitious moves by some highly placed persons to cause the policemen involved in the cold blooded murder to be released from detention hence their call on the IGP to intervene to ensure that justice was done.
Agbazuere, also a human rights activist said that the incident occurred about midday on March 3 when the policemen stormed a town hall of the community and opened fire on the people who were holding a meeting, leaving three young men dead.
The deceased were identified as Adimchi Obiocha, Joseph Nwokocha and Obinna.
He said that the police officers had immediately fled the scene after the killing with the intention of covering their tracks but the community leaders raised the alarm which made him to wade into the matter.
The human rights activist said that he was alerted of the gory incident by the traditional ruler, the prime minister and some titled chiefs of Ntigha, prompting him to file a petition to the IGP, demanding for a thorough investigation and prosecution of the policemen
Narrating how the unfortunate incident happened, Agbazuere said that the policemen drove into Ntigha â€œwith a Mercedes Benz 190 and got to the village hall and killed three young menâ€. He stated that the vehicle used in committing the crime was hitherto parked at Okpuala Divisional Police Station and it was traced and discovered that the suspects were part of a â€œvisiting mobile policemen.â€
â€œThat was how they got them arrested and they are now at the state CID in Umuahia,â€ he said, adding that the suspects had not denied their identity of being policemen.
In the petition he sent to the IGP, Mr. Idris Ibrahim dated March 6, 2018 Agbazuere pointed out that the deceased â€œwere not fowlsâ€ hence â€œI cannot afford to fold my hands and ignore the gruesome incident.”
“I am aware that police could decide to save their face but they can also punish their erring members,” he said.
He said that the IGP had responded to his petition and directed the Abia State Commissioner of Police to treat the matter and also report back to him (IGP).
The IGP actually responded through a letter dated March 9, which was made available to newsmen, and entitled “Re: Gruesome murder of three young men at Ntigha Okpuala by men in police uniform.” It was signed by the Principal Staff Officer to the I-G, ACP Usman Umar, and referenced CZ: 7050/IGP. SEC/ABJ/VOL.123/534.
Chief Obani, who spoke on behalf of the community leaders, said that the incident had thrown the community into deep mourning.
He recalled that unknown gunmen had kidnapped a woman in the village a fortnight ago, adding that the killing of the three men had heightened tension and fear in the area.
“This was why when we heard the sound of the shooting, we thought that another gang of kidnappers had invaded the venue of our meeting,” he said.
According to him, after the shooting, they rushed the young men to General Hospital, Okpuala Ngwa where they were confirmed dead, adding that the community was determined to ensure that the perpetrators were made to pay for their dastardly acts.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Godfrey Ogbonna (DSP) when contacted on his cell phone said he was yet to be briefed on the incident.