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…RULAAC accuses Imo Police of pussyfooting over case, shielding the alleged rapists

Juliana Francis

A distraught mother, who introduced herself simply as Mrs Chiwendu, has narrated in detail how her 15 years old daughter was gang raped at gunpoint in Ezinihitte Mbaise, Imo State.

According to the woman, the incident happened while her daughter was attending a church convention organised by the Apostolic Church in December 2023.

Since the event, she and her daughter had been demanding justice but kept meeting brick walls with Police investigators and the youth leadership in the community when the incident happened.

She narrated that the child was marched out of the church gate by one of the alleged rapists identified as Ibu, who threatened her with a gun, at about 2:am.

Ibu marched the petrified girl to an uncompleted building, where his two other partners were waiting. They pounced, tearing and devouring.

Chiwendu identified the rapists as Ibu, Onyekachi, but does not know the name of the third man.

Chiwendu said: “When she came home, I was shocked and heartbroken. She was pleading profusely and kept weeping. When she went to the convention, she was supposed to stay with my friend. But this Ibu went to the church, and demanded that she should go home at that late hour, between 1:am and 2:am, when she refused, telling him that her mom asked to stay with a friend, he flogged and dragged her out of the gate.

“He forced her out of the church premises. My daughter didn’t know other guys were waiting outside. It was the gun that he used to force to follow him, he took her to the uncompleted building, where his two partners were waiting and there they raped her.”

Chiwendu said that since the incident, life with them had never been the same. Her daughter, who is in senior secondary school (SS1), was traumatised and had to be removed from the community for her sanity.

“It was my daughter who said she didn’t want the matter to be swept under the carpet. She said that she wants justice. Before we decided to move her out of the community, she said that whenever she saw the men that raped her, she used to feel sad and angry. She said that if she had a gun, she could shoot them,” narrated Chiwendu.

When the youth leadership in the community heard about the incident, told Chiwendu that they would handle the matter decisively for her, and that she should not go to the police station.

Chiwendu said: “My brother, however, went to report the matter at the police station, when police went for arrest, the three men had run away. Their wives were arrested but released. The youth leadership gave me N50,000 so that I could take my daughter to hospital, which I did.

“The youth leaders later threatened me that I must never go back to the police to pursue the case, that if I did, I would bear the consequences of my action. It was Chibuenyi that threatened me not to go back to the police, along with his partner called Nigga, who is the Youth President. The men that raped my daughter work with them.

“I have nobody to run, but then someone introduced me to Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, who has been trying to help us to get justice.”

Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma is the Executive Director of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).

He has been following the case, determined to get justice for the sexually violated minor. However,  his interactions with the police over the matter had him shaking his head in disappointment.

Determined to ensure a logical conclusion, RULAAC petitioned the Imo State Commissioner of Police.

In the petition, Nwanguma blamed the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of  Ezinihitte Mbaise Division for the shenanigan going on with the investigation.

He said the behaviour of the Police concerning the matter showed, “abuse of police procedure, unprofessional and corrupt conduct by the DPO Ezinihitte Mbaise Division.”

According to Nwanguma, the case was reported at the Ezinihitte Mbaise Divisional Police Headquarters,  by the Chief Security Officer Amumara Okechukwu Ikenna Inyama.

Also, RULAAC made attempts to speak with the DPO, to ensure that the investigation of the serious crime was not compromised.

He said: “The DPO and his team continued to dillydally and are yet to arrest the suspects to date. It turned out that the suspects were 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 approached the mother of the defiled girl and was offering her money to drop the case.

“On April 18, the Chief Security Officer Okechukwu Inyama called and reported that he was attacked and assaulted, and his dress torn to shreds by armed men led by the same Chibuenyi Nwachukwu who accused him of reporting a case against his boys and accusing him of compounding felony.  He dared him to report him anywhere he wished to.”

RULAAC advised Inyama to report the case of assault to the Police Division.  He did and Chibuenyi was invited.

“Chibuenyi was accompanied by Eze Nwokocha of Adakam and after the traditional ruler spoke with the DPO privately in his office, Chibuenyi was allowed to go.  Efforts by RULAAC to reach the DPO on the phone to let him know the need not to allow the traditional ruler to influence his actions regarding serious crimes of defilement and assault were frustrated by the DPO who refused to take calls to date,” said Nwanguma.

The activist that said based on RULAAC’s inability to reach the DPO and convinced that the influence of the traditional ruler was interfering with investigations,, forwarded a copy of a petition regarding the defilement to the Commissioner of Police, Imo State who promised to look into the matter with urgency. The CP was also informed about the assault and the behaviour of the DPO.

He narrated: “About three days ago, the Chief Security Officer reported that when he got to the Division, the DCO in the presence of the DPO was angrily questioning him for ‘petitioning’ them to the CP and threatened to deal with him for trying to make them lose their jobs.

“This morning, when the Chief Security Officer went back to the Division in response to a summons by the DPO, which he thought was in furtherance of the investigation of the cases of defilement and assault, he was ordered into a vehicle by the DCO who told him that there was a signal from Zone 9 Umuahia to bring him.

“It is very unfortunate that instead of ensuring a 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.

“As we informed the CP Imo, this same Chibuennyi still has a case of unlawful possession of firearms, threats, and assault pending at D3 State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Owerri.

“Every time he is invited by the police, the traditional ruler of Adakam, Eze Nwokocha would accompany him and make sure the case is swept under.  The Inspector General of Police has issued directives warning against the undue transfer of cases and counter-petitioning in cases that are still under investigation at a police station.”

RULAAC thereafter urged the CP and AIG Zone 9, not to allow the suspect – now turned complainant- to twist or manipulate cases against him to evade justice.

“We request the AIG to pay particular attention to this case and order an investigation of the conduct of the DPO Ezinihitte and his role in aiding suspects to pervert and evade justice. We request the AIG to kindly order the release of the counter-accused, order an honest and professional investigation and ensure that justice is done. We understand the case is with the Crack Team, Zone 9. The IPO’s name is given as Kennedy,” said Nwanguma.

The Imo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Henry Okoye when contacted by the reporter, to know the facts of the case and why the alleged rapists had not been arrested, did not respond.

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