Suspicious Killing of Suspected Serial Murderer in Police Custody

The killing of an alleged international fugitive, Andrew Ochekpo, in Benue State while on transit to Abuja with police officers from the Force Headquarters after his arrest in Aba, Abia State, for allegedly causing the disappearance of a Nigerian lady, Celine Ndudim and her Ghanaian friend, Afiba Tandoh, has further dragged the image of the Nigeria Police in the mud, Ejiofor Alike reports

Who are the police officers suspected to have killed or aided the killing of Andrew Ochekpo, an alleged serial murderer, kidnapper, organ harvester, and international criminal kingpin, who was also accused of causing the disappearance of a Nigerian lady, Celine Ndudim and her Ghanaian friend, Afiba Tandoh, in Aba, Abia State?

Where are the bodies of the two abducted ladies who were feared killed by the alleged criminal suspect and his powerful syndicate?

Who are the senior police officers, if any, that allegedly provided cover to the late suspect while he was allegedly perpetrating heinous crimes in Nigeria?

Did the policemen taking Ochekpo to Abuja allegedly book hotel accommodation on transit where they wasted several days while he was in their custody?

Who allegedly withdrew millions of naira from the suspect’s account while he was in custody?

These are some of the questions investigators put together by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Kayode Egbetokun, should unravel to satisfy the expectations of Nigerians and the international community who are disenchanted with the suspicious handling of the investigation of the disappearance of the two girls by the police and the alleged foul play surrounding Ochekpo’s death.

The Aba-based businessman, formerly resident in the United Kingdom, was killed around the Kogi-Benue axis while he was being taken to Abuja from Abia State by heavily armed policemen from the Force Headquarters, and his corpse deposited in a mortuary.

The suspect, who was also accused of several other heinous crimes, was arrested in connection with the disappearance of the two ladies who went missing on April 27, 2024.

The deceased was seen in a viral video clip on social media inviting the two girls to his palatial home in Aba.

Celine’s sister, Tessy Ndudim, told BBC News Pidgin that she got a call from her sister on April 27, 2024 who told her that the man she and her friend had gone to visit in Aba had kidnapped them.

Tessy said she shared this information with the police when she got to the Abia State Police Command but the policemen dismissed her.

“The police would have rescued my sister and her friend that week when I reported the matter to them, but they did not seem to take it seriously,” she said.

“I saw a car believed to belong to the suspect because my sister had shared a video of the car when it came to pick them up at a hotel when they arrived in Aba, but the police dismissed me,” she added.

Tessy said the unsatisfactory response from the Aba police made her family to write a petition to the Police Zone 9 in Umuahia.

“It was the Umuahia Command that finally made an arrest in the same building I had told the first set of officers to check,” she reportedly added.

Afiba’s husband also told BBC News Pidgin that he was not happy with the way the police were handling the matter.

He said he spoke to his wife when she left Accra, Ghana with Celine for Lagos.

The husband also said he was aware that his wife accompanied her friend to Aba to meet the crime suspect.

Before he was killed under suspicious circumstance, the prime suspect, also reportedly known as Andrew Ucheckwo, and David Okorochahe, was allegedly declared wanted in March 2023 by the police in the United Kingdom for sexual assault.

Human rights activist, Harrison Gwamnishu, who exposed the incident to Nigerians, revealed that another petition was written for the case to be transferred from Umuahia to Abuja because, according to the activist, the late suspect was living large while in police custody in Umuahia.

In a video posted on Gwanishu’s Facebook page, some policemen and a few human rights activists went for another search and recovered the dead body of a lady near the suspect’s home.

The decapitated body with some missing vital body parts was said to be wrapped in a curtain allegedly similar to the curtain in the suspect’s house.

But Celine’s sister said the fact that the body was decomposing showed that the person had died long before Celine and Afiba’s visit to the area.

In what seemed like another wonder of the 21st Century, news broke on May 31, 2024, that the suspect was killed during an exchange of fire with vigilantes, while he was being taken to Abuja by detectives from the Force Headquarters.

According to the report, the suspect was allegedly armed, and driving himself when he tried to escape from the policemen and was shot and killed during an exchange of fire with vigilantes.

Gwamnishu who had raised the alarm that he was being threatened, stated that the police claimed that the men who shot the suspect were arrested and put in custody.

The alleged claim that a crime suspect being taken to Abuja was driving himself and was also armed, beats all imaginations.

The families of the two ladies alleged foul play, claiming that the police officers spent several days with the suspect on their way to Abuja from Abia State.

Many Nigerians believe that Ochekpo’s killing was a calculated move to conceal the heinous crimes committed by his syndicate in collaboration with some senior police officers.

Unfortunately, the police authorities kept mum for over one month without clearing the air on the matter, even when an unconfirmed report alleged that the suspect was forced to transfer over N100 million into different accounts and one of his phones seized before his death.

Following the embarrassment, it caused Nigeria, the IG, Egbetokun, last Monday directed the monitoring unit to conduct a thorough investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of the businessman.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Prince Muyiwa Adejobi, in a statement issued, said Egbetokun mandated the monitoring unit to complete the investigation in two weeks and present a comprehensive report.

Adejobi said IG’s “directive comes amid the numerous allegations, arguments, and counter arguments surrounding the case, which also involves the disappearance of two ladies, Celine and Afiba, after their trip to visit the said Andrew in Aba, Abia State, for which he was alleged to be responsible.

“In light of the public interest and the gravity of the allegations, the IG has deemed it necessary to institute a meticulous investigation into the roles played by the team which carried out the initial investigation in Abia State, and the Force Intelligence Department Intelligence Response Team, to unravel the veritable facts of the matter.”

Adejobi said Egbetokun assured Nigerians that the case would be handled with utmost professionalism and integrity.

Nigerians and the international community are waiting to see if the investigative team would cover or expose their colleagues.

Notes for File

Endless Weeping and Wailing in Katsina

The reports that over 60 persons were killed by terrorists in Dutsin-Ma and Kankara local government areas of Katsina State in the last one week were indeed frightening and worrisome.

 The state, like others in the North-west, has been ravaged by banditry, leaving its residents in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. 

Killings, abductions, and assaults on women and girls have tragically become the norm.

For these residents, life is really brutish as farmers cannot go to their farms and women cannot engage in their trading without fear of being attacked.

The nefarious activities of the marauders are also evident in other parts of the North-west geopolitical zone, including Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna states, as well as in North-central state of Niger where over 30 people were killed penultimate week.

The bandits have so far reportedly killed thousands of innocent persons, and kidnapped several others including schoolchildren, with some still in their custody, while others who were lucky to survive, are still nursing injuries sustained during the attacks.

Even the security agents, including soldiers and policemen posted to the state are not spared as they are ambushed, killed or injured at regular intervals.

President Bola Tinubu has resorted to former President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of issuing statements condemning the attacks on the people, and condoling with the families of the victims any time attacks occur, without holding the heads of security agencies who have failed to end these killings to account.

The primary responsibility of any government is to see to the protection of the life and general welfare of the people and not to consistently console the victims of insecurity and give endless marching orders to security operatives to arrest perpetrators who have become elusive. 

This is why former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar accused the federal government of being nonchalant about the issue of tackling insecurity. He noted that it was worrisome that banditry and terrorism have become routine, with the government seemingly helpless and nonchalant about it despite the enormous annual budget for defence.

It is time for the security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities of protecting the country unless insecurity has become a new normal in Nigeria.

Related Articles