…As IPOB, ESN suspects
There have been reports in the media alleging that the army and police have been arresting Igbo youths indiscriminately, torturing and clamping them into detention, for allegedly being members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN). All over Igboland, people are expressing outrage at this development.
A report by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a civil society and research group, detailed some of the accounts of these victims of army and police harassment and provided their photographs exclusively also to SaharaReporters.
The civil society alleged that in the past one week, “not less than 30 open and secret killings by soldiers and police had taken place with most in Imo State where scores of corpses have been freshly traced to the mortuaries of the government medical centres.”
Among the many unarmed citizens who were raided as IPOB and ESN suspects are: John Chinonso, 24; he is from Nchoko Dikenafai Community in Ideato South, Imo State and lived at Apiti Street by Hardel Junction, Orji- Uratta in Owerri North, Imo State.
He is an orphan living with his elder brother. Chinoso owns and manages DaddyFresh Barbing Salon at Ogboru Umuchoke by Hardel Bus Stop, Uratta.
He had responded to his elder brother’ s call for him to close his shop and return home before dawn owing to precarious security situation in Owerri and environs and as he was going home in the evening of Tuesday, May 25, the police patrol personnel blocked and arrested him at gunpoint.
According to Intersociety, Chinonso was the same evening paraded alongside four others as “ESN hoodlums who attempted to burn down Orji Police Station.”
Also, Chukwudi Okoro, 29; he is a shuttle bus transporter plying the Owerri- Orji route with his apprentice. He is from Akabo- Amata, near Owerri, Imo State.
He and his apprentice were heading home on May 25, having closed early as a result of the precarious security situation in Owerri and environs when they sighted police patrol personnel shooting indiscriminately around Orji and its environs. In the end, police patrol personnel blocked and arrested both of them at gunpoint. He was paraded the same evening alongside four others as “ESN hoodlums that attempted to burn down Orji Police Station.”
Another was Casmir Ibegbulem, 40 years old. He is a father of one, expectant father of another and a “Permit Holder” staff of an oil company at Bonny Island in Bayelsa State and a native of Ogwa Community in Mbaitoli, Imo State.
Ibegbulem returned for the burial of his in- law, which took place on May 28. He was in Owerri on 25th May to pick up personal items needed when police patrol personnel pounced on him at gunpoint and arrested him.
He was paraded the same evening alongside four others. Ibegbulem is married to Onyekachi who is seven months pregnant.
Alozie Daberechi and Chigaemezu Sabastine are Owerri- based traders and indigenes of Imo State. The two were arrested by police patrol operatives on their way home in the early evening of Tuesday, May 25. They were paraded the same evening.
Smith Amadikwa; He is husband to Ebere Amadikwa, a former leader of the Obowo Local Government Legislative Council under former Governor Rochas Okorocha and they reside at Umuagu Seven & Half Junction, Obowo. According to his wife, Smith Amadikwa has been arrested and detained since May 12. He was said to be with his wife and trying to catch up with an appointment at Owerri Shoprite/Samsung when he was arrested by the Imo State Police Command.
He was among the names labelled “ESN hoodlums that attacked Imo State Prison Headquarters” by the Imo State Police Command on May 28.
Families of these victims of indiscriminate police arrests have continued to plead that their relations are innocent.
Mr. Cyriacus Chidozie of Ihitte Asaa Autonomous Community in Ngugo Ikeduru LGA of Imo State, has also joined his voice in decrying what he described as illegal arrest and continued detention of his nephew, Mr. Chigaemezu Sabastine.
Speaking to The Leader, Mr. Chidozie said that about 11am on that fateful day, Tuesday May 25, 2021, he had discussed with Chigaemezu, who deals on plumbing materials at Naze Ogbosisi Market over N80,000 balance of transaction expected to be paid into his bank account.
He said that he couldn’t understand how reports reaching him at 3pm that same day could be saying that Chigaemezu had been paraded on facebook by the police as one of the “arrested suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) who burnt Orji Police Station,” that same day.
According to Mr. Chidozie, he there and then alerted his lawyer, Prof. E.U Chukwumereze (SAN) who mobilized other lawyers from his chamber on Friday May 28 evening and moved to the State Police headquarters.
Prof. Chukwumereze said that they were not given the needed and necessary information about the arrest and detention of Chigaemezu and four others, but only told that those who arrested him had minuted the case to the Commissioner of Police who is yet to get back to them.
Mr. Chidozie said that he later received a call from one Inspector Daniel of the IRT Abuja, who told him that his brother Chigaemezu is a terrorist, a member of IPOB and ESN that burnt down the Orji Police Station.
In response Mr. Chidozie told Inspector Daniel of the IRT Abuja that Chigaemezu learnt his plumbing material trade under C.J. Chijioke Electronics and a trader who deals on plumbing materials at Naze Ogbosisi Market and so he is not a terrorist nor an ESN and IPOB member.
Recall that on Monday May 31 on the People’s Assembly of Hot 99.5 FM, while answering questions from Alex Ogbonnaya in an audience participatory and phone-in programme as to why onlookers were arrested after the perpetrators of the attack at the Orji Police Station had long gone, because no sane person commits a crime and remain at the same scene. The Imo State PPRO, SP. Bala Elkana, responded that “It is usually the norm to arrest people seen at the scene of a crime”, adding that they may have useful information to give the police to aid investigations.
Asked whether the suspects had been investigated and granted bail? SP Elkana responded that they are still in detention, insisting that they still have useful information to avail the police, but he failed to inform Alex Ogbonnaya and the listening audience that Chigaemezu and four other suspects had since Thursday May 27 been transferred to Abuja.
Speaking with our reporter on the telephone, the Imo State PPRO, SP Bala Elkana confirmed that Chigaemezu and other four suspects have been transferred to Abuja. He however declined giving details of the investigation so far, adding that speaking on the matter is not within his purview, as the matter is being investigated by the Force CID Abuja, which is above his office.
As at the time of filing this report, efforts were also made by our reporter to reach Commissioner of Police (CP) Frank Mbah, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) in Abuja on phone, but CP Mbah was not on hand to take his calls.