INVESTIGATION OF WITCH-BLOODLETTING IN EBONYI STATE

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The case of Okechukwu Nweke, accused of harmful magic and tortured to death in Ezza North in Ebonyi State, has once again demonstrated the incompetence and lack of diligence in the Nigeria police force. This sordid reality is once again manifesting itself. Mr. Nweke was last seen on August 28, 2021. On this day, a lynch mob abducted him, dragged him to the village square where he was severely beaten. Nweke’s was later thrown into the Akadoro river. His body has yet to be recovered. His alleged murderers went through his phone and transferred five million naira. The case was reported to the state police command in Abakiliki and a police investigative officer (IPO) was assigned to handle the matter. Unfortunately, almost six months since the alleged killing and disappearance of this young man, nothing has come out of the investigation. It has been one excuse after another. A source in Abakiliki told the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, that Nweke’s family members ‘mobilized’ the police to go and carry out an arrest of the suspects.

But the police were unable to arrest the suspects. The IPO claimed that the road that led to the village, Inyere, was impassable. So he, along with his team, had to turn back and return to their station in Abakiliki. However, some locals who know the Inyere community very well said that this was not the case; that the police officers made this claim to kill the matter. Some community leaders were among the suspects and must have bribed the IPO and the police command in Abakiliki.

AfAW contacted the commissioner of police who pledged to look into the matter. After meeting with the CP, the IPO sent letters inviting the suspects for questioning, which was in December last year. The IPO sent the letter through Mrs. Rose Nwankwo, who is the coordinator, Imoha Development Center, Ezza North. She is also from Inyere community and is also aware of the case of Mr. Nweke. Incidentally, none of the suspects has reported at the police station. Local sources have confirmed that the suspects received the letters because some of them had called relatives of Mr. Nweke asking to know who included their names in the list of suspects.

Some of the suspects and their allies have invited Nweke’s relatives to the village for a meeting. But the relatives have declined to attend any meeting. At the moment, no measure is being taken to facilitate the arrest of these suspects. There is no movement on the investigation of the alleged murder and disappearance of Mr. Nweke. As in other cases of witch bloodletting, if the police refused to take further action, the matter would fizzle out. The alleged murder and disappearance of Nweke would not be accounted for. The torture of Mr. Nweke did not happen in some dark corner in Ezza North. It happened in the open, in the public, and was captured in a photo.

The state, zonal, and federal police commands should understand that they must ensure that the suspected killers of Mr. Nweke are arrested, investigated, and eventually prosecuted. The police should not allow the matter to die. They should stop giving flimsy excuses for delaying and compromising the investigation of this case. The family of Mr. Nweke needs justice. They want to know what happened to their son and brother since he was last seen in August last year. They need answers and closure to many questions: Is he still alive? Is he dead? If he is dead, what killed him? Who killed him? When? Where and how?

Police in Ebonyi, please do your duty!

Leo Igwe, nskepticleo@yahoo.com