IGP Alkali Baba

IGP Alkali Baba

Juliana Francis

The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Alkali Usman Baba, to order a prompt and impartial investigation into the parading of Mr. Thaddeus Ikechukwu Ojokoh by the Imo State Police Command as one of the suspects that killed four policemen in Imo State, even while he was still in detention.

The Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, explained that the before the killing of the four policemen, the same Imo State Command had alleged Ojokoh of being an IPOB member and had arrested and kept him in detention, refusing his family access to him and associates.

Nwanguma said: “Ojokoh, who was paraded as being part of those that killed the four policemen in Imo State was still in detention when the killing of the policemen took place. A crime that was committed even while Ojokoh was still in the custody of the anti-kidnapping Unit, Imo State Police Command following his arrest on April 15, 2023.”

The activist urged the IGP to guarantee Ojokoh’s rights to life, human dignity, and fair trial. Nwanguma said that Baba should unravel the mystery surrounding the claim by the Imo State Police Command that a man who had been in police custody was among those who carried out the dastardly killing of police officers in Imo State on a date that the man was still in the custody of the police.

He added: “Ojokoh, a 53-year-old professional tailor and father of five, was arrested by operatives of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Tiger Base, Owerri, Imo State on April 15, 2023, and has been detained incommunicado since that date.

“On April 30, Imo State Police Command issued a statement that Ojokoh was among the men that murdered the policemen on national duty. He was eventually paraded by the Imo State Police Command along with others who were later arrested following the killing of the police officers on April 21and said to be among the assailants who attacked and killed the police officers in Ngor-Okpala, Imo State on April 21, 2023.”

The activist said that members of Ojokoh’s family of Umugwa Umuokrika, Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area in Imo State informed RULAAC that Ojokoh was still in police custody as at the date of the condemnable attack and killing of the police officers.

He then queried: “How then could he have participated in the attack and killing while still in police custody? Ojokoh,  a well-known Professional Tailor at Afor Oru Market in Ahiazu Mbaise, Imo State was arrested on April 15 on the claim that he is a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

“The attack against police officers was launched on April 21. He was still in police custody as of that date. His family members have not had access to him since the day he was arrested. They seriously fear for his life because most people arrested by the police in Imo State and labelled IPOB members have usually been executed extrajudicially or disappeared.

“There have been instances of people arrested on the claim that they were IPOB members and killed or disappeared and evidence later emerged to disprove the claim. Ojokoh’s family members find it both curious and ironic that Ojokoh who was arrested on April 15 and still detained at the Tiger Base Owerri as of April 21 when the attack was carried out and has not been released up to date could be paraded alongside others alleged to have carried out that same attack.

“Ojokoh’s family members were hoping that the police would have finished their investigation and cleared him of any links with IPOB or charged him in court. But on April 21, six days after his arrest, hoodlums attacked policemen on patrol at Ngor-Okpala and killed four of them.”

Nwanguma said that attacks on police installations or the killing of police officers were totally condemnable, serious, and unjustifiable crimes.

He noted that the attack and killing of four police officers at Ngor-Okpala junction on April 21, 2023, was unjustifiable and all those responsible should not be spared the maximum penalty permitted by law.

“However, parading a man for a crime committed while in police custody raises serious concerns and questions, and calls for careful investigation to ensure that an innocent person is not accused wrongly or made to pay the price for a crime he did not commit. We hereby humbly request the IGP to order a discrete investigation to unravel this mystery,” said Nwanguma.

He maintained that it has also become necessary to call the IGP’s attention to the attitude of many police officers in the Southeast presuming everyone accused of being an IPOB member of having automatically lost their Constitutionally guaranteed rights to due process, including the presumption of innocence until otherwise proven in a fair trial.

He added: “This is a very dangerous attitude that has led to the murder of many innocent citizens. The Constitution guarantees every person arrested for a recognizable offense the right to a fair trial. Summary executions and extrajudicial killings amount to murder and can have ugly repercussions including creating a cycle of violence. We request the IGP to order an investigation into the continued detention of Thaddeus Ikechukwu Ojokoh and the circumstances surrounding his being accused of being among those who carried out an attack on police officers on a date he was still in police custody.

“He should be released or charged to court if he has any case to answer. His family and legal representatives should also be allowed access to him.”

 

 

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