Vanguard (Lagos)

30 January 2013

Nigeria: Controversy Trails Killing of Middle-Aged Man By Police in Imo State

The hitherto quiet atmosphere witnessed in Uvuru Ntu, Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State recently, was truncated following sporadic gun shots by a team of policemen at about 5.45 am.

Villagers, who were jolted from sleep, sought for refuge in different directions, apparently thinking the invaders were kidnappers.

However, when the dust settled, a middle-aged man identified as Nnanna Eke, was found in the pool of his blood;and he died before reaching the hosptal.

The tragic incident, which occurred on December 30, 2012, also marred the family's thanksgiving scheduled that fateful Sunday, to mark the 25 years of one of its daughters' religious profession as a Catholic Nun.

Controversy, has however, continued to trail the death of Nnana, following allegation by the deceased family that the Publicity Secretary of the state's Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Blyden Amajirionwu,who allegedly accompanied the policemen that shot Nnana had a hand in his death.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Rev. Sr. Concillia Eke, a Catholic Nun of the Congregation of Daughters of Divine Love, DDL, whose silver jubilee thanksgiving was marred as a result of the invasion and killing of her younger brother, by the armed policemen, offered an insight into what happened that fateful day.

According to her: "A police patrol van, with four policemen, drove into my family home at about 5.45am, accompanied by Mr. Amajirionwu, the PDP Publicity Secretary,Imo State.

"The policemen surrounded our house and started shooting sporadically. They shot directly at the door of the room where my younger brother, Nnanna Eke, was sleeping. Amidst the ensuing confusion, every person in the compound ran for safety.

My brother who was oblivious of the fact that he was the target, woke up and ignorantly made to come out of the room, only for one of the policemen to give an order that he should be shot".

Amajirioonwu ordered the arrest of members of my family

The Catholic Nun further alleged that the state's PDP Publicity Secretary, ordered the Policemen to arrest her siblings; Mrs. Ngozi Ihemba, a nursing mother and Toochukwu Eke.

"My mother was also whisked into the Police van which zoomed off immediately. I entered Blyden's car, insisting that they must also take me along with members of my family. But Blyden drove off so furiously, that I fell off from the car", Rev Sr. Eke recounted.

She recalled that it was after the Policemen had left that she sighted Nnanna lying helplessly in the pool of his blood, adding that she quickly sought assistance from sympathizers with a view to saving her dying brother.

"Unfortunately, my brother died while we were on the way to the hospital owing to the gunshot injuries he sustained from the trigger-happy policemen. He was confirmed dead by the doctor on duty at Holy Rosary Hospital, Emekuku, Owerri.

My mother was dropped along the road, a little before Umuneke,while my elder sister Ngozi and my brother, Toochukwu, were detained at the State Criminal Investigations Department, SCID, Owerri, from December 30, 2012 to January 3, 2013, before they were released on the instructions of the Commissioner of Police,Mr. Adisa Baba Bolanta.

I suspected he kidnapped my three-year-old daughter- PDP publicity secretary

Reacting to the accusation through a press statement, Amajirionwu, traced how his three-year-old daughter was kidnapped on December 8, 2012, in his Owerri residence but was later released after payment of an undisclosed ransom on December 13, 2012.

Excerpts:

"In the whole process of the kidnap and release, I had more than enough convincing suspicion that Mr. Nnanna Eke was a prime suspect behind the act. Naturally, I had only one option, which was to report to the police. And that I did, in writing and of course it was for the police to arrest and investigate the allegation.

"On December 30, 2012, the Police went to arrest Mr. Nnanna Eke but had difficulty locating the place . But because I didn't want any mistake in the arrest, I decided to show them the way.

On getting there, I pointed at Nnanna's house and stood on the main road, while the police went in to arrest him.

If Nnanna had a clear conscience on the matter, he would have simply surrendered himself. But instead, he resisted the police by trying to escape, only to be shot in the process.

The truth is , Nnanna knew the implications of what he did. ", Amajirionwu stated.

However, a villager who spoke on condition of anonymity could not hide his consternation at the Police claim that the late Nnana tried to resist arrest.

"It was obvious that the Policemen simply shot Nnanna and left him to die. The question that needs an answer from the police, is; whether the late Nnana was armed as at the time the Policemen stormed his compound?.

"Amajirionwu has also, refused to say what sort of resistance Nnana put up, that eventually led to his being shot. Again, since the complain was against Nnanna, why did the policemen abandon their target and preferred to take two other innocent members of the family away? There is much to this than meets the eye. That is why we are urging the Inspector General of Police to properly investigate this ugly murder", the villager pleaded.

Policemen replied gun shots- Imo state PPRO

Contacted, the Imo State Police Public Relations Officer PPRO, Mr Vitalis Onugu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police DSP , stoutly defended the police and the complainant, Blyden Amajirionwu, stating that he only acted a s a pointer.

Said he: " The Policemen that went there are well trained and could not have taken instructions from the complainant.

The Policemen saw a lady as she went and alerted members of the family about the presence of the security personnel. But they did not see the deceased on arrival . What attracted them were gun shots from behind the family house and they responded by firing into the area where the gun shots was from"

Asked if the Policemen recovered expended shells of ammunition from the location of the suppossed gun shots, the PPRO gave a negative reply, adding also that no policeman was injured in the process.

He further stated that : " The Ekes, without reference to the police, moved the suspect to Holy Rosary hospital, where they were told he was dead on arrival.

Family of the deceased at a later date, came to the Police with an affidavit for the release of the corpse. They equally told the police that they would like to bury Nnana and would also not go into any trouble with any body. But the Police refused and insisted on carrying out an autopsy".

He however,expressed regrets that the middle-aged man died but was quick to add that: " If he was innocent as claimed by members of his family , he would have quietly surrendered himself to the Police and awaited proper investigation".

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