Thursday, February 6, 2020 9:17 am
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, calls on State Chief Judge to assemble Magistrates to visit Police Cells to free innocent citizens
… Ledum Mitee, human rights lawyer, former President MOSOP calls on CJ of Rivers to direct Magistrates to visit Police Cells to free innocent detainees
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Four officers of Rivers State Police Command have been arrested and detained by police authorities over alleged torture to death of late Chima Ikwunado and inflicting injuries on four others arrested alongside the deceased, otherwise known as Ikokwu five.
The five men, popularly known as Ikokwu five were arrested by officers of the E-Crack of the Rivers Police Command over allegation of theft of vehicles which later turned out to be false. But one of them, Ikwunado was allegedly tortured to death during the process of trying to extract confession from him while in detention.
The police claimed that he died of complications from diabetes, a claim that has been refuted by the family.
The four others came out with gory wounds when they were released about two weeks ago and have been narrating sordid tales of the torture they were subjected to and which led to the death of their colleague while they were being detained by the police.
There have been calls for arrest of the policemen involved in the torture.
But lawyer to the family of the late Ikwunado, Princess Chinyere disclosed after meeting with the Ohaneze Indigbo and the Association of Ikokwu Traders in Port Harcourt that the police authorities has already arrested the police officers involved in the torture of the five men who are auto mechanics.
“I was called by the OC Homicide and I went with Chima’s elder brother, the father, Chima’s widow and some other persons went into the DCP’s Office. Before the proper interview started, I heard the DCP send somebody to the cell to bring the policemen. l was even surprised that the policemen came out, three of them were in uniform. We were informed that they had just come back from Abuja. One was said to be in the Hospital. The DCP sent for him to be brought from the clinic and they brought him.
“So four of them I saw personally in Police custody,” late Chima’s family lawyer said.
Also, Ohanaeze Nndigbo in Rivers has urged the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Iyayi Laminkara, to assemble a team of Magistrates to visit the various police cells in state to free suspects who are being wrongly detained or remanded in various Correctional Centres in the state because they could not meet bribe demand of police officers.
The Publicity Secretary of Ohaneze Indigbo in Rivers, Felix Onwuma, said the interactions they received from the Ikokwu 4 while they were in the Cells of the E-Crack Squad, otherwise known as the ‘Commissioner’s boys’ in Mile One Diobu Port Harcourt and Port Harcourt Correctional Centre showed that many youths have been wrongly accused and thrown onto jail without proper investigations.
“There are a lot of Rivers People in the detention Centres across the state for crimes they did not commit. And they are locked up there because they didn’t have enough money to pay to buy their freedom. Some are wrongly charged just like the Ikokwu 5. We should be able to right the wrongs with one good move. These People deserve better deals.
Also, Ledum Mittee,a human rights lawyer and former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, has also asked the Chief Judge of the State to explore the provisions of the domesticated Administration of the Criminal Justice of Nigeria Act to decongest police cells.
Mittee said the Act can be used to curtail brutality and torture of suspects in police custody.
“Administration of criminal justice Act made copious provision to curb the kind of excesses. Under that law is to check the excesses of indiscriminate detentions by the Police. It also stipulates the setting up Magistrates in an area for the purpose of visiting police stations and police detention centres under their jurisdiction every month for the purposes of either to direct those deserve bails be granted bails. I am not sure most of these provisions are being carried out.”