Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), a non-governmental human rights advocacy organisation, has accused some police officers attached to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command, Abuja of harassment, intimidation and unprofessional conduct.
RULAAC asserted that the FCT Command has no jurisdiction or any business whatsoever intervening in a matter clearly outside its jurisdiction.
This was contained in a petition to the Inspector General of Police dated November 29, 2021, signed by the group’s Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma.
In the petition, the group is asking the IGP to order an investigation into the alleged unprofessional conduct of some police officers attached to the FCT Police Command, Abuja, led by Sunday Agboji.
It said the conducts of some police officers portray them like they were hired by criminal suspects to help them settle scores and evade justice.
The statement reads in part "Sometime in April 2021 Mr Clifford Chukwunonyerem, a Lagos-based Risk Analysts/Advisor and President-General of Itu Autonomous Community in Ezinihite Mbaise LGA, Imo State approached Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) with a complaint concerning a petition he had addressed to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Zone 9 Police Headquarters, Umuahia, Abia State dated 20th April, 2021, bordering on alleged ‘Criminal Conspiracy, Attempted Murder, Terrorism Financing, Unlawful Possession of Firearms, Arson and Breach of Public Order’ against 'a suspected criminal gang allegedly sponsored by Mr. Oliver Osuagwu and Mr. Alex Eberendu both from Itu, Ezinihite Mbaise LGA, Imo State'.
"Mr. Clifford Chukwu informed RULAAC about his suspicion that the investigating team at Zone 9, Umuahia, by their conduct and posture, may have been compromised by the accused persons, especially the alleged wealthy sponsors with a view to derailing investigation and evading justice. He, therefore, sought RULAAC's intervention to ensure that the investigation is diligently and honestly conducted and concluded without interference and manipulation, and the accused persons are charged to court if they are found culpable.
"Based on this complaint and request, RULAAC addressed another petition to the AIG Zone 9, Umuahia, attaching the previous petition by Mr. Chukwunonyerem Clifford and requested his intervention to ensure that the investigation was fair, concluded and appropriate actions taken to ensure justice.
"RULAAC specifically called on Zone 9 Police Command to expeditiously prosecute all suspects in the matter, having interviewed witnesses and gathered substantial evidence. We deemed it necessary to have this petition published in the media as part of our strategies of promoting transparency.
"The AIG promptly intervened, invited the petitioner and the investigating team and having found that the team was foot-dragging despite having gathered evidence, severely reprimanded the head of the team in the presence of the petitioner and directed that the O/C Legal Zone 9 takes over the case for further necessary action.
"Upon reviewing the case file and finding that the investigating team omitted some vital evidence provided by the petitioner, the O/C Legal perfected the case file, assembled all the evidence and promptly charged the matter to court and the matter is currently pending at the Ezinihitte High Court in Charge No...
"Meanwhile, one of those accused in the petition as the sponsors of the said criminal gang, Chief Oliver Nnanyerem Osuagwu, through his lawyers, wrote to RULAAC's Executive Director, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma asserting that the petition addressed to the AIG by RULAAC and published in the media was malicious and defamatory and targeted at his reputation.
"He further described it as a conscious attempt to unlawfully meddle in an ongoing police investigation, among other things and demanded a retraction of the publication with a threat to initiate a court action against RULAAC's Executive Director and others for calling for his prosecution and causing same to be published online.
"But RULAAC, through its lawyers replied and told Osuagwu and his cohort that it was not shifting ground on its call for the prosecution of all suspects if found involved in the alleged attempted murder, unlawful possession of firearms, terrorism financing, arson and breach of the public peace as contained in the complainant's petition to Zone 9 Umuahia. RULAAC further assured them that threats of litigation cannot intimidate the organisation or derail the pursuit of justice and affirmed that it was happy to meet them in court if they so desired.
"In between the period after the intervention by the AIG Zone 9 Umuahia which led to the O/C Legal taking over the case file and the time when the O/C Legal eventually filed processes in court (in 5 Counts) pending their formal arraignment, they (the suspects) had approached the complainant through some proxies offering him some money to back down. They also employed threats at some point when their moves did not yield their expected results.
"However, instead of facing their trial in court or proceeding with their threats to file a defamation action against RULAAC, the suspects decided to resort to desperate moves aimed at intimidating the complainant, the traditional ruler of Itu autonomous community and RULAAC's Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma.
"Besides sending threats through anonymous sources, they also resorted to hiring the services of some willing police officers at the FCT Command which has no jurisdiction or any business whatsoever intervening in a matter clearly outside its jurisdiction, to harass and intimidate the aforementioned persons.
"On November 25, a police officer attached to the FCT police command identified as Sunday Agboji stormed Clifford Chukwunonyerem's office at Lekki, Lagos accompanied by other officers to arrest him but he was not in the office at the time they arrived. When Clifford's colleagues in the office inquired if they had a warrant, they declined to answer or present any.
“A female police officer in the team identified as Jane Ettah called Clifford through Agboji's phone number 07037955930 and asked him to report at FCT office on Monday, November 29. It was also apparent that they did not register their presence at any police station in Lagos State- as required by police procedure, since they came from outside jurisdiction - all the way from FCT police command Abuja.
"Prior to this incident, the Traditional Ruler of Itu community in Ezinihite Mbaise LGA, Imo State, HRH Ben Adindu had called and informed RULAAC that because of his perceived support for the complainant, Mr. Clifford Chukwu as the President General of the community against another contender sponsored and supported by the suspects, a team of about 10 masked police officers who came with a Toyota bus without a Registration number with the inscription 'River Joy' later found to have been led by the same Sunday Agboji of FCT police command had on 27th October 2021 at about 7:30 am, invaded his palace in Itu, fully armed, in plain clothes with their faces covered and forcibly entered and ransacked his palace.
"They neither presented any warrant nor explained their mission before forcing their way in and ransacking his palace. He said his daughter was able to recognize Chibueze Nwagwu (Aka Butwhy) also masked, who led the police team to the palace. Chibueze Nwagwu is the same ringleader of the criminal gang that attacked Clifford Chukwu in Itu on Easter Monday, April 5th 2021 and is currently among those facing 5 counts of a criminal offence at the Ezinihitte High Court, along with his co- indicted gang members.
"Eze Ben Adindu further informed that one of the female police officers in the invading team dragged his daughter through the kitchen door, took pictures of his compound, his official vehicle and ransacked his palace.
"The invasion and brigandry of the police officers attracted several members of the community who gathered at the palace and started raising alarm.
"The traditional ruler put a call to the DPO Ezinihitte Division who said that there were no records of any security personnel from outside jurisdiction that called to his office for any such operations. The traditional ruler also contacted the Area Commander, Ezinihite, who also did not know about the mission of the invading police team. He later called the AIG Zone 9 Umuahia, the Ezinihitte LGA Chairman & Councillors.
"The traditional ruler said the invading police team left- following interventions from the calls he made. The leader of the team, Sunday Agboji dropped a telephone number 07037955930, and claimed that they were sent by the IGP.
"On that same day, the same team also went to Clifford Chukwu's house in the village but met everywhere locked.
"Clifford Chukwu suspects that the plan of the team was to plant incriminating objects to implicate him and the traditional ruler.
"He also suspects, by the mode of their operations, that they may have also come on an abduction mission since they didn't report to police hierarchy in Ezinihitte before going straight to the palace to ransack the palace without presenting any warrant.
"What was even more perplexing was that they came with an unnumbered/unmarked vehicle and were all fully masked, including one of the suspects 'Butwhy', who led them to the traditional ruler's palace where they took pictures of the palace, the traditional ruler's official car with customised plate number and the entire compound.
"The traditional ruler complained that the female police officer among them forcefully entered the palace through the kitchen door, ransacked and desecrated the throne.
"As already stated, this action was followed by the visit on 25 November, by the same team led by Sunday Agboji to Clifford Chukwu's office in Lagos where, according to Clifford Chukwu, the female police officer in the team wrote on the visitor's register... Hovianel Upo 08069682231. He said Sunday Agboji did not fill his details on the visitor's register in his office although the female officer called him from Sunday Agboji's phone number.
"A few days after the police team went to Clifford Chukwu's office in Lekki Lagos, the same team leader Sunday Agboji sent what he describes as an invitation to Mr Nwanguma through his WhatsApp number. The message reads: ‘My name is operative Agboji Sunday of the Nigeria Police Force attached to FCT police command Abuja. You are by this note invited over a petition against you to the Inspector General of Police by one Mr Oliver N. Osuagwu. This is a fact-finding invitation hence, your presence is important. Report at FCT police command Abuja opposite old CBN Garki 2, on arrival contact operative Agboji Sunday on GSM number 07037955930 who will receive you. Date Monday 29/11/2021 Time. 1030am. accept my warm regards pls.’”
However, the group raised concern over the invitations that did not disclose the alleged offences or reasons for the invitation as may be contained in the purported petition to the IGP
The group said, "The invitations did not disclose the alleged offences or reasons for the invitation as may be contained in the purported petition to the IGP
"If there is really a petition to the IGP against people not resident in the FCT and based on alleged offences not committed within the FCT, would the IGP direct such a petition to the CP FCT to investigate when the alleged offences were not committed within the FCT? More so, none of the persons said to be accused in the yet-to-be-seen petition resides in the FCT.
"Why would Agboji Sunday and his team of officers mask their faces and operate with an unmarked vehicle to invade the traditional ruler's palace and Clifford Chukwu's offices without warrant of arrest or search, as required by law? Were they actually sent by the IGP and would the IGP ask them to operate in such reckless and unprofessional manners which portray them like bandits hired by criminal suspects accused and facing charges for serious crimes to help them settle scores and evade justice?
"We trust that the IGP will order a prompt, impartial and exhaustive investigation to unravel the mission of these operatives and ensure appropriate disciplinary actions," they added.
When SaharaReporters called Agboji on the phone, he denied intimidating the parties as alleged in the petition.
He said his team was working on a directive from the Inspector General of Police following a petition against Clifford Chukwu and others, he said were named in the petition.
He said, “One Oliver wrote a petition to the IGP, the IGP referred the petition to the Commissioner of Police. We are only inviting them to come and answer the petition. Why are they saying we are intimidating them?
“We are only doing our job or is it wrong for the police to invite citizens again? Look, I’m not from the state, I don’t know them.”
On the allegations that the police were working with a suspected criminal known as Chibueze Nwagwu and that his team illegally raided the palace of the traditional ruler of Itu, Ben Adindu, Agboji said he knew nothing about it.
“I don’t know all the names you are mentioning. All we have said is that they should report. And if they don’t want to come, I will report to the IGP. If someone has made allegations against you, you came and answer, that is all,” he said.