Imo community barricades police command, accuse officers of receiving bribe to free suspect

Imo community barricades police command, accuse officers of receiving bribe to free suspect

- Residents of an Imo community blocked the state’s police command and accused officers of freeing a kidnap suspect after receiving N5 million bribe

- They said the suspect was now threatening members of the community and bragging that he got off the hook by giving the police N5 million

- The police CP, however, said the suspect was freed because no evidence was found linking him to the alleged kidnappings; and that the bribery allegation was being investigated

The entrance to the Imo state police command was barricaded by protesting indigenes of the Umuowa-Ibu community, Okigwe local government area, on Wednesday, April 25.

The protesters held up placards, as they accused the command’s anti-kidnapping unit of collecting N5 million to free an alleged kidnap suspect who was a native of the community, Punch reports. gathers that the angry indigenes wrote a petition to the commissioner of police, Chris Ezike, which was signed by the president-general of the community, Benjamin Emere; the vice-president general, Jonas Egbu; the secretary, Cosmos Arogu; the youth leader, Uchechukwu Okorie; and the woman leader, Helen Akazie. They stated that members of the community were now being threatened by the freed suspect.

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The petition read in part: “With a devastated mind, we write to draw the attention of the CP to a serious case of kidnapping in our community. Our children, Chisom Nnadi, Ekene and one other little girl were kidnapped in our community.

“All fingers and investigation pointed towards the suspect. We have witnesses to back up our claim.

“The matter was handled by the anti-kidnapping unit. Painfully, the suspect was released and he has returned to the community, bragging that he got off the hook by giving the police N5m.

“He threatens every now and then that he will deal with us. We live in fear of the unknown. We demand that the CP, who is known to have no tolerance for injustice, should intervene and ensure that justice is served.

“We are ready to testify at any lawful place about the heinous activities of Okwudiri in our community.”

The president general also alleged that shortly after the suspect was released, operatives of the anti-kidnapping unit arrested a member of the community, Edwin Obijiaku.

The commissioner of police, Chris Ezike, however, reportedly stated that there was no evidence linking the suspect to any crime. He said some indigenes of the community had destroyed the suspects’ houses while he was being held in police custody. He said the suspect was released after a thorough investigation because there was nothing linking him to the alleged missing children.

Ezike stated that those who committed arson were charged to court; and that one of them, Obijiaku was remanded in prison. He also disclosed that he had asked another unit of the command to investigate the N5m bribe allegation; adding that “he who alleges must be ready to prove it.”

In his words: “Criminality is not by suspicion; it is by evidence. Justice is for everybody. It is their right to protest, but I have asked the Security Intelligence Bureau of the command to investigate the bribery allegation. We have arraigned those who destroyed the houses of the accused, while he was in our custody, for malicious damage.

“The court remanded one today. More arrests are on the way. It took us to go to the extent of going to accused’s houses to do excavation, yet there was no trace that the missing persons were in his compound.”

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Meanwhile, previously reported that journalists attending a media convention in Imo accused some policemen attached to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of collecting N10,000 bribe from them.

The officers, led by a certain Inspector Uche, harassed the journalists, who are members of the Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, and threatened to frame them if they refused to part with the money.

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