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Rivers State: Four police officers arraigned for torture and murder

Four police officers alleged to be involved in the murder of an auto-mechanic, Chima Ikwunado and the torture of four others in Rivers State, have been dismissed and remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.

The police officers, Inspector Ayogu Fidelis, Sergeant Eke Chibuzor, Sergeant Egbunefu Felix and Sergeant Rose Georgewill, attached to the Eagle Crack (E-Crack) Squad at the Mile 1 Police Station, were dismissed by the Rivers State Police Command on Monday, following an orderly room trial which indicted them.

Rivers police spokesman, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, described the dismissal of the officers as “a testament to the promises of the Commissioner of Police Joseph Mukan, to address all cases of infractions and unprofessional conduct of the officers and men of the command. “It is an eloquent demonstration of his transparency and avowed commitment to entrench discipline in the command.”

The ex-cops were arraigned at the Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate Court 4 on Tuesday, on a 7-count charge including murder, conspiracy, attempted murder, felony and causing grievous harm.

Counsel to the deceased’s family, Chinyere Lawrence, informed the court that out of the seven police officers allegedly involved in the crime, only four were arraigned. She noted that the E-Crack Commander Benson Adetuyi, a superintendent of police and the investigating officer, Inspector Sam Amadi, who allegedly took part in the torture & gruesome murder of late Chima, were excluded from the trial.

Police prosecution counsel, Romeo Queensoap, told the court that investigations revealed that the four ex-cops arraigned were the only persons directly involved in the murder.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.

Chief Magistrate Promise Iloanya held that his court had jurisdiction on counts 4, 5, 6 and 7, but lacked powers to entertain the matters in counts 1, 2 and 3. He, therefore, referred the case file to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice.

Iloanya remanded the accused persons in the Portharcourt Correctional Centre and adjourned the case till September 18, 2020.

On December 19 2019, police officers attached to the Eagle Crack Squad of the Mile 1 Police Station, arrested a Port Harcourt auto-mechanic Chima Ikwunado and his four associates; Ifeanyi Onyekwere, Ogbonna Victor, Ifeanyi Osuji and Osaze Friday, for alleged car theft, cultism and robbery. The allegations later turned out as false.

While in custody, they were said to have been tortured and subjected to inhumane treatments by the police leading to the death of Ikwunado and inflicting various degrees of injuries on the other four detainees.

The death of Ikwunado and desperate attempts by the police to cover up the incident drew a widespread outcry and protests from the public who demanded justice for the “Ikoku 5.” Further investigations on the incident led to the arrest and prosecution of the erring police officers.

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