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Nigerian Police DPO Accused Of Colluding With Criminal Suspects In Imo To Pervert Justice

Posted by Samuel on Sun 05th May, 2024 -

RULAAC made the demand in a statement issued by its Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, and sent to SaharaReporters.

Essiet Onuimo

The Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has urged the Imo State Command of the Nigeria Police Force to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of collusion by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Ezinihitte Mbaise Divisional Police Headquarters in Imo State, Essiet Onuimo, with criminal suspects to obstruct justice and evade accountability for a rape accusation and other purported crimes.

RULAAC made the demand in a statement issued by its Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, and sent to SaharaReporters.

RULAAC also said that the said criminal suspect, one Chibuenyi Nwachukwu of Obibi village in Adakam Amumara community, Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, with the aid of the Ezinihitte Police Division supplied false and misleading information to Zone 9 Umuahia in a bid to corruptly cover up reported allegations defilement and assault of a minor against Chibuenyi by the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Amumara, Mr. Okechukwu Ikenna Inyama.

RULAAC accused the DPO, Onuimo of abuse of police powers and procedure, unprofessional and discreditable conduct, and demanded a prompt investigation and necessary disciplinary actions.

The RULAAC boss, Nwanguma explained that in December 2023, a minor (name withheld) was returning from a church program at Obibi village in Adakam Amumara when she was attacked and dragged to an uncompleted building and gangraped by three men from the village.

Nwanguma said that the CSO, Inyama reported the case at the Ezinihitte Mbaise Divisional Police Headquarters but it was discovered that the DPO and his team resorted to foot-dragging the case and refused to make efforts to arrest the suspects till date.

“RULAAC tried to speak with the DPO to ensure that investigation of the serious crime was not compromised but the DPO and his team continued to foot-drag and are yet to arrest the suspects till date,” Nwaguma said.

According to him, “It turned out that the suspects are young men working with one Chibuenyi Nwachukwu from the same Obibi village who is very close to the Traditional Ruler of Adakam, Eze O.B Nwokocha.

“The Chief Security Officer informed us that Chibuenyi later approached the mother of the defiled girl and was offering her money to drop the case, which amounts to the crime of attempting to compound felony.”

Nwanguma said that on April 18, Inyama called RULAAC and reported that he was attacked and assaulted, and his dress torn to shreds by armed men led by Chibuenyi Nwachukwu who accused him of reporting a case against his boys.

Inyama also said that Nwachukwu also accused him of hiding and shielding the suspects and dared the CSO to report him to anywhere he wished.

“Again, we advised him to report the case of assault to the Police Division. He did and Chibuenyi was invited. Chibuenyi reported after three days accompanied by the traditional ruler, Eze Nwokocha of Adakam and after the traditional ruler had a private discussion with the DPO in his office, Chibuenyi was allowed to go.

“Efforts by RULAAC to reach the DPO on phone to remind him of the need to not allow the traditional ruler influence his actions regarding serious crimes of defilement and assault were frustrated by the DPO who refused to take calls till date.

“Owing to our inability to reach the DPO, and convinced that the negative influence of the traditional ruler was interfering with investigations and shielding a serial criminal suspect, Chibuenyi, RULAAC forwarded a copy of a petition regarding the defilement to you via WhatsApp and you promised to look into the matter with urgency.

“We also informed you about the assault and the behavior of the DPO,” Nwanguma said.

He further stated that about three days later, the CSO reported that when he got to the Police Division, the DCO in the presence of the DPO was angrily questioning him for 'petitioning' them to the Commissioner of Police.

The DCO threatened to deal with him for trying to make them lose their jobs, and on Friday morning when the CSO went back to the Police Division in response to summons by the DPO, he was ordered into a vehicle by the DCO who told him that there was a signal from Zone 9 Umuahia to bring him to Umuahia.

Nwanguma said that “It is very unfortunate that instead of ensuring professional and impartial investigation of cases of defilement and assault reported at his Division, a DPO would instead, compromise and instigate the suspect to write a counter petition against his accuser.”

According to him, “Chibuenyi was misadvised by the DPO to write a counter petition against the Chief Security Officer falsely alleging threat to his life and the DPO invited the complainant at the Division to the station where upon arrival, he was ordered into a vehicle chartered by Chibuenyi to convey him to Zone 9, Umuahia.

He said that “RULAAC spoke with, and explained the situation to the AIG who graciously ordered the release of the Chief Security Officer the same day.

“As we informed you sir, this same Chubuennyi still has a case of unlawful possession of firearms, threats, and assault pending at D3 State CID Owerri.

“It is disturbing that every time Chibuenyi is invited by the police, the traditional ruler of Adakam, Eze Nwokocha would accompany him and make sure the case is swept under.”

Nwanguma recalled that the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, had issued directives warning against undue transfer of cases and counter petitioning in cases that are still under investigation at a police station.

He said that RULAAC therefore brings this case to the attention of the Imo State Commissioner of Police “considering the latest unfortunate development.”

The Centre also asked the commissioner to “Order honest and professional investigations into the allegations of hiding suspects in a heinous crime of defilement, attempt to compound felony, assault, and false information by Chibuenyi against the Chief Security Officer, as well as conclusion of investigation and action into the case of unlawful possession of firearms pending against Chibuenyi Nwachukwu at D3, State CID, Imo State Command Headquarters

“We also call for investigation into the discreditable conduct of the DPO Ezinihitte, especially, his role in aiding suspects to pervert and evade justice. Please, ensure that justice is done.”

Meanwhile, after receiving the statement of RULAAC, SaharaReporters contacted the Imo State police command through its Public Relations Officer, Henry Okoye, but he did not answer calls made to his number on Friday nor responded to a WhatsApp message sent to him till the time of filing this report.

SaharaReporters also called the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Zone 9 Umuahia, Echeng Echeng, but the calls were not answered. Also, the AIG did not respond to a WhatsApp message sent to him till the time of filing this report.

However, the RULAAC boss told SaharaReporters that the Centre spoke with, and explained the situation to the AIG who ordered the release of the Chief Security Officer the same day.

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