Home Metro Uchenna death in police custody: Groups’ demands thorough investigation, arrest of officers implicated
Metro - February 2, 2023

Uchenna death in police custody: Groups’ demands thorough investigation, arrest of officers implicated

His parents were asked to pay N150,000.00 for  bail

 

Stanley Ihedigbo

 

Anambra State Police Stakeholders Partnership Forum (PSPF) and Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), have expressed serious concerned about the controversy surrounded the death of one Uchenna James Okafor  in the custody of Anambra State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) , annex, Awkuzu, in December 2022.

They demanded  for proper investigation into the arrest, detention, causes and circumstances surrounding the death in custody of of Uchenna  and the state Police Command to makes a public statement revealing, among other things, the identity of the other citizens arrested with the deceased, the condition of their health, and how far the Police have gone with investigation into the case, including the result of autopsy conducted on the deceased.

In the statement made available to The Mirror,  by Executive Director,  PSPF, Prince Chris Azor and Executive Director RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, also demanded to bring to justice, if found culpable, Police officers implicated in the shady handling of the case of  Uchenna.

They noted that the incident was reported by a social justice campaigner using a Twitter handle, @Ada_mummyya who alleged that Uchenna  was arrested for a case of ‘two fighting’ and taken to the police station on the 23rd of December 2022.

“The reporter stated that the parents of Uchenna were asked to bring the sum of N150,000.00 to bail him. The reporter further stated that by Thursday, when the parents got to the station, and inquired about Uchenna, they were informed that he  had died.

“The Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer,  CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi reacted to the tweet asking the Anambra State Police PRO to look into the matter and revert to him.

“According to a statement by the Police which was reported by Channels Television on January 11, 2023, the Police said it had started a probe into the death of a suspect Uchenna Okoafor who died in detention”, they said.

The groups further said that Anambra State Police PRO, Ikenga Tochukwu, in his response said: “It is a case of armed robbery and not a case of two fighting as alleged. The complainant positively identified the three suspects. There were marks of violence and serious wound on the body of the complainant as a result of the attack by the suspects.”

“The suspects’ statements were taken and they all confessed to the crime. They were detained with other suspects in the cell. The other suspects while in custody revealed that as they were sleeping, late Uchenna started acting abnormally. He screamed and hit his head on the wall before he slumped. The victim was taken to the hospital and he was confirmed dead by the doctor. No money was demanded or collected by the IPO or any Policeman as attested by the deceased father.”

“The police extended an invitation to the social justice advocate and Twitter user @ada_mummyya for questioning after she claimed that the trio (suspects) were asked to bring N50,000.00 each for bail.

“The Police stated that: “the Twitter handler’s mendacious publication was aimed at inciting the public against the Police, therefore the command wishes to invite the Twitter handler, @ada_mummyya, to Anambra State Police Command by 11/1/2023 to come with evidence and witnesses of persons when the IPO demanded the sum of One Hundred Thousand Naira.”

“The Police promised to conduct an autopsy into the incident to ascertain the cause of Unchenna’s death”, they explained.

The human rights groups further noted that the narrative of the police and that of the Twitter handle @Ada_mummyya are miles apart.

“One report is claiming ‘two fighting’; the Police are claiming ‘armed robbery’. It is suspected that the victim may have been tortured to death. A transparent and credible autopsy will reveal the cause of death.

“We are aware that torture remains a prevalent practice in the Nigeria Police contrary to Sections 35-37 of the new Police Act 2020, which prohibits torture, cruel and other degrading and inhuman treatment. Section 62 of the new Police Act 2020 also states that “arrested person must be released within 24 hours with or without bail, except it involves a capital offence, which is punishable with death.

“The police accepted that Uchenna was arrested on December 23rd 2022 and died in their custody. Between the time of Uchenna’s arrest and the time the news of his death in detention became public, it was a gap of two weeks.

“In the statement issued by the police, they stated that the information by the Twitter handle, @Ada_mummyya was misleading and aimed at inciting the public against the Police.

“We stand by the fact that the Police are charged with maintaining law and order and delivering public safety. They are obligated to partner with the community and to be accountable in the discharge of their duty. Anambra State Police command did not make any public statement on the death of Uchenna James Okafor while in their custody, until the social justice campaigner twitted and exposed the death. And it took the directive of the Force PPRO for the Anambra State command to make a statement on the incident.

“Even after the directive from Force headquarters, It took Anambra State Police command two (2) days to issue a press statement on the death in custody of Uchenna James Okafor. Could it be that his death was being concealed? What action(s) did the Police take when it was discovered that Uchenna died in their custody? Days are running into weeks after Anambra Police Command promised to conduct autopsy on the deceased. Stakeholders have yet to be briefed on the outcome.

“Inquiries by Media personnel about the contacts of the deceased especially, parents and relatives have been rebuffed by the Police Authority. During a visit by some journalists to the victim’s community, the traditional Ruler feigned ignorance of the incident. This is curious and points to a likely cover up bid and attempt to suppress information and allow public attention shift from the incident”, they stated.

 

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