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…After IGP, others fail to take action

Juliana Francis

The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has called on the Police Service Commission (PSC) to investigate the alleged criminal and discreditable conduct of Inspector Matthew Abu Michael, attached to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja, and to impose appropriate disciplinary action on him if found culpable.

According to the Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, RULAAC had previously written and informed the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alkali Usman Baba, about the alleged self-serving and criminal activities of Michael, whose actions negatively portray the Nigeria Police as available for hire by the highest bidder for settling scores.

Nwanguma said: “We have called for an investigation into his alleged misconduct, to no avail.  In 2018, a communal dispute erupted in the Isuaniocha community in Awka North LGA, Anambra State, resulting in the murder of the community deputy youth leader, the late Angus Okoye and attempts on the lives of other community members at the instigation of a one-time President General of the community, Mr. Anthony Onyeagolu.  Mr. Onyeagolu started employing violence against his community after he was deposed over allegations of corruption and highhandedness by Anambra State Govt. under H.E. Governor Obiano. He engaged the services of Inspector Matthew Abu Michael who has been taking sides and assisting him and his allies in crime who are currently standing trial in two separate High courts in Awka. He aids them in writing petitions or counter petitions for them against the community and always making sure that the petition is assigned to the unit he is attached, to as Investigating Police Officer (IPO). He does this and more to divert attention and derail the investigation of criminal allegations of murder and attempted murder by his wealth-flaunting paymaster, the deposed former PG who has turned himself into a terror against his kinsmen. Matthew has allegedly been on his payroll since 2012.”

Nwanguma alleged that Michael has been involved in abuse and misuse of his powers as a police officer for selfish benefits, lending himself to the service of people who are currently standing trial in two different courts in Awka for the murder and attempted murder of their kinsmen.

“He has been involved with these men of questionable character when he was attached to the disbanded SARS, FSARS, IGP Monitoring Team and now Force CID, Abuja. He works in collusion with a gang of armed criminals self-styled ’Bakasi’ with which he continually hunts the family members of the victims of murder and attempted murder in his community, as well as their witnesses in a grand diabolical ploy to prevent them from attending courts to give evidence at the ongoing trials with the help of Zone 13 Police officers. Many members of the community have been arrested while attending court while others have been hunted down in their village and detained at the Zone 13 headquarters or at the FCID Abuja. They have also been burning down the houses of community members.  Inspector Matthew frequently invades the community carrying out random arrests of members of the community resident in the community and also going after others outside the community especially witnesses in the cases against Anthony Onyeagolu using officers at Zone 13, charging them to a particular High Court in Awka with allegations of terrorism, murder, kidnapping and attempted murder and having them remanded in prison custody,” alleged Nwanguma.

He further stated that one of those recently arrested, detained at Zone 13, and later charged and currently remanded in prison is Chief Edward Okoye, the elder brother to the deceased and the chief petitioner in the ongoing trial of Onyeagolu and others. He was arrested on the 12th of July 2022.

After the arrest of Chief Edward, Matthew and his team again invaded the community and arrested the only prime witness available, a 70 years old man, Chief Damian Nnaemena at Okpuno Town, on his way to a political meeting on the 15th of September 2022.

On the same day, Michael and his cronies also went to the Awka home of Hon. Kenneth Okoye who is the only remaining deceased family member representing the family at the court sittings and also whisked away.

Nwanguma noted: “At the moment, only the wife of the deceased, among all the witnesses, is available to attend court and give evidence. What they want to achieve is for the case to be struck out for lack of evidence due to the repeated absence of witnesses all of whom have been arrested, charged and remanded in prison through the criminal activities of Insp Matthew Abu Michael and his allies at Zone 13 and the Admin section of FCID.  We are particularly concerned about the dimension of resorting to arson. The practice of burning down the houses of wanted persons is a new dangerous trend introduced into the type of policing promoted by the likes of Inspector Matthew Abu and his team. Mr. Anthony Onyeagolu, the principal suspect in the two cases of murder and attempted murder, and his accomplices have deliberately avoided Anambra State Police Headquarters, Awka because they do not get the cooperation they need from them – to use them as they are using Inspector Matthew and his allies at Zone 13 and FCID Abuja – to intimidate their kinsmen into abandoning their cases in court. It was the state headquarters that investigated and charged Anthony Onyeagolu and others in court.  Efforts by the principal suspect Anthony Onyeagolu to buy his way out of custody at the state police headquarters Awka in order to evade his arraignment in court were frustrated. Hence they resorted to using officers at Zone 13, Ukpo, Anambra State who work in cahoots with Matthew and his bosses at the FCID Abuja.”

Nwanguma further narrated: “The principal suspect was transferred from the Homicide Section, Force Headquarters, Abuja in 2020 after the conclusion of investigation under DIG Michael Ogbizi (Rtd) and detained at the SCID, Awka preparatory to his arraignment for the murder of late Angus Okoye and attempted murder of Chidiebele Okoye. His case file was also said to have been emptied in order to destroy evidence. It is pertinent to inform the commission that in 2020, while the principal suspect Anthony Onyeagolu and some of his accomplices were in custody at Awka, a surreptitious attempt was made to release him from Anambra State Police headquarters to evade arraignment in court. He was actually released at midnight on the orders of the then Commissioner of Police, Legal Department, Force Headquarters, CP Austin Sanomi (Rtd) without reference to the CP Anambra State Police Command.  Following the expose and alarm raised by RULAAC, the then DIG FCID Mr. Mike Ogbizi (Rtd) was compelled to order the re-arrest of the suspects and his return to custody for immediate trial. He was later arraigned at two different courts for murder (court 2) and attempted murder (court 5).  He also spent so much money to have his case file compromised in order to suppress evidence.”

The human rights activist recalled that RULAAC’s petition to the IGP and the commission concerning this matter dated April 3, 2022, reads in part: “We are further informed that the last time the plaintiffs were supposed to attend court in Awka for the continuation of the murder trial of Anthony Onyeagolu and others, armed thugs masquerading as Bakassi and commanded by Insp. Matthew Abu laid an ambush to arrest them to frustrate the trial’s continuation. We have seen video evidence of some of the acts of arson and vandalism carried out by Inspector Matthew Abu and his armed gang, including one Emeka Maduka – one of the suspects who had been on the run from arrest and arraignment with others by the Homicide Section. We also have evidence of attempts by Insp. Matthew Abu to counter track efforts to track and arrest the principal suspect Anthony Onyeagolu, his sponsor,  at the time he was being tracked for arrest by the FCID in 2020. RULAAC had requested the IGP to call Insp. Matthew Abu Michael to order and to order an investigation into his alleged discreditable conduct. In furtherance of their grand diabolical design to intimidate the deceased family members and other members of the community and their witnesses, Inspector Matthew Abu caused the names of 102 innocent citizens of the community to be gazetted as wanted criminals. He had to go as far as a Nasarawa State Magistrate’s Court to obtain the dubious order for the gazette, shunning the Magistrates Courts in Anambra State where the cases are domiciled.”

He stressed that RULAAC was calling for an unbiased and exhaustive investigation into these serious allegations against Michael.

 

 

 

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