Vanguard (Lagos)

10 November 2012

Nigeria: Onitsha Market Crisis - Police Probe Attempted Murder of Spare Parts Market Boss

Police detectives attached to the Zonal Criminal Investigations Department, ZCID, of the Zone 9 Headquarters, Umuahia, Abia State, are working round the clock to unravel the circumstances surrounding the attempted murder of Chief Emmanuel Onyeharam, Chairman of Old Mercedes Benz Spare Parts market, Nkpor in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Already, two suspects have been arrested, charged to court and remanded in the prison custody at Onitsha, in connection with the attempted murder, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm, robbery and sundry crimes against Onyeharam and one other person, Emmanuel Umeakunne.

This round-the-clock investigation followed a strongly-worded petition tothe Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Zone 9, Umuahia, by Onyeharam's legal counsel, Barrister Kingsley Awuka, which the AIG assigned to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of the Zonal CID, Umuahia, for thorough investigations.

In the petition to the AIG, dated October 1, this year, Awuka alleged that Chijioke Okafor (a.k.a. Nanka), Daniel Nwokike, Azubuike Akuana, Emeka Ezeugo (a.k.a. Bishop), Tochbukwu Eziagu (a.k.a.Topoo), Kalimbo, Nando, Matthew Ejike (a.k.a. Osisi di naiwu), Chijioke (a.k.a. Ogidi), Ugo Ezinifite, Douglas, Meache and other unknown persons had on September 26, 2012 when the victims and other registered trustees of the spare parts market were holding their meeting at their Elephant House union office, caused commotion inside the market premises.

The petitioner stated that when the second victim, Umeakunne went down stairs to find out what the commotion was all about, he was accosted by Chijioke Okafor, the first suspect who allegedly slapped him with back of a machete, and severally wrecked fist blows on his eyes.

The petitioner further alleged that other suspects mentioned above joined in the beating until he was chased to the office of the first victim and when they saw the first victim, the sixth suspect who was simply identified as Kalimbo, uttered to him: "Chief, today will mark the end of your leadership of the market".

He stated that the victim saw the 12 above listed suspects clearly and they heavily descended on him, inflicting on him several injuries with machetes, gun butts and other dangerous weapons. According to him, "the beating and assault continued until the two victims became unconscious and suspecting that the two had died, the suspects left them and went to fetch petrol and light to set them ablaze. It was at this juncture that both victims were rescued and driven to a hospital, unconscious.

At the moment, the victims were still at the hospital receiving treatment and as such, the exact extent of properties stolen and or vandalized by the suspects cannot be ascertained, even as the first victim's Mercedes Benz V-Boot car was wrecked beyond repair."

The petitioner alleged that sponsors of the attack were said to have procured and armed the suspects with explicit instruction to assassinate the victims, adding that their motive was not unconnected with the long standing leadership tussle at the old Mercedes spare parts market, owned by the incorporated trustees of old Mercedes spare parts dealers association. He said the situation had already elicited several law suits, some of which are still pending and all which were instituted against the first victim, by their sponsors.

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