Friday, 2 September 2016

Open Letter: Gruesome Murder Of Chukwuemeka By Vigilante Group



The Inspector General of Police,
Nigerian Police Force,
Force Headquarters,
Louise Edet House,
Shehu Shagari Way,
Central District Area,
Abuja.   
   
Sir,
A Call For A Thorough Investigation Of The Gruesome Murder Of Master Chukwemeka Ekeh And Two Others By The Vigilante Group Attached To The Old Spare Parts Market, Ugwuagba-Obosi, Anambra State At The Instance Of The Chairman Of The Market, Chief Chudi Obiagwu.

The International Human Rights and Equity Foundation, [iH-REF] writes your esteemed office on the above subject matter.

International Human Rights and Equity Foundation, [iH-REF] is a collection of lawyers and social activists committed to the protection, enforcement, preservation and advancement of human rights, social justice and equality in Nigeria.

Following a complaint brought to us by the family of late Chukwuemeka Ekeh, “30”, a labourer at a motor garage at the Old Spare Parts Market, Ugwuagba-Obosi and the consent of the family, given to us writing by the said family, we write and make the following reports.

That on the fateful day, Thursday, August 4, 2016, the victim had gone to work at the park where he works as a labouer when he was arrested by the vigilante outfit working as the security of the market. The other two of his friends had been arrested earlier by the same vigilant group at different spots on allegation that they had beaten up the chairman of the market, Chief Chudi Obiagwu the previous week.

The vigilant group brought them to their office, handcuffed them and started beating them with matchet and clubs. The victims were said to have been given several cuts on several parts of their body by the vigilant group, which made them bled profusely while the beating lasted. One of the victims reportedly died on the spot while the other two were at various level of semi-consciousness when the police from SARS arrived at the scene and took them away.
Not knowing the exact police station to which the victims were taken, the family of

Chukwuemeka searched for him in many of the Police Stations/formations in Anambra for many days but did not see him. It was at that stage that the family came to us for assistance. When we contacted the OC SARS Awkuzu, CSP Benjamin Abang, he informed us that they actually were alerted when the incident was going on and they came to rescue the victims. He informed us that the conditions of the victims were very critical when his men arrived at the scene, as they had various degrees of matchet-cut injuries. According to the OC, they rushed the victims to hospital for treatment but they could not make it, as they eventually gave up the ghost shortly after they arrived the hospital.
 
When contacted to know what transpired in the matter,  the Chairman of the market, Chief Obiagwu, after initial denials to the effect that he was not aware of such incident, told us that the victims were killed by a mob of people who were fade-up with the nefarious activities of the boys in the market. He confirmed to us that boys had assaulted him about two weeks earlier, and that in the end, he was made to pay them the sum of Fifty Thousand Naira (#50,000.00).

We equally visited the office of the said vigilante group in the market but could not meet their commander. His second-in-command refused to speak to us about the incident but rather gave us the phone number of his commander as 08036230506, which has remained switched off on the different occasions that we tried calling it.

In all of this, the testimony of the father of Chukwuemeka, Mr. Cletus Ekeh who incidentally is a barrow pusher in the market, and witnessed the brutish beatings and manhandling of his son and the two others, by the vigilante men is much more compelling. He said he was returning to the market after dropping some goods for a customer when he saw a crowd of people gathered, watching the brutalization of the trio in front of the office of the vigilante group.

He initially did not know that his son was among the people until he drew closer to scene and his son saw him in the crowd and started calling him for help. He tried to move in to the scene to appeal to the vigilant men but they started swinging their marchets uncontrollably in other to scare the crowd away and the crowd started running for their safety. This made the crowd to become angry and wanted to mobilize to halt the brutality of the men before one of the vigilante men called the police and they came and took the victims away. He maintained that it was not any mob that attacked and killed his son as being insinuated by the chairman of the market, insisting that he personally witnessed it.

He told us that the other two victims had misunderstanding with the chairman of the market two weeks before the incident happened wherein they allegedly assaulted. Following the said assault, the chairman vowed to deal with the boys. Further to this, he explained that his son was not even in town when the alleged assault happened and wondered why the chairman should order the killing of his son also.

We are worried that the sanctity of human life has greatly lost its value in our society today. Bestial conducts that not only offend, but also shake the psyche of the society to its very foundation are today brazenly displayed in the glare of the public.Our society is dangerously sliding in a hobessian state where anarchy rules supreme and life is short, nasty and brutish.
We call on you to, as a matter of utmost immediacy, direct that a thorough investigation into the murder of these three young men in a broad daylight. The “mob” theory being introduced into the matter by the perpetrators should be discountenanced.

Both the Chairman of the market and his vigilante outfit should be arrested immediately and investigated thoroughly with a view to finding out who did what in the gory incident, and whosever that is culpable should be brought to justice.

Please, find attached a copy of the photograph showing victims handcuffed and lying in front of the vigilante office, for ease of reference. It is marked as ANNEXURE-iH-REF 1.
We count on you to act expeditiously and in the interest of the society.

Signed:

For: International Human Rights and Equity Defense Foundation (iH-REF)

Ijeoma, Justus Uche
Executive Director
08037114869; 08182829278
juieoma@yahoo.com; justus.ihref@gmail.com.

Comrade Obi Barth Ifediorah
Head, Information/Publicity Desk
080372912312; 09097395646
Obijekwu72@yahoo.com; barth.ihref@gmail.com.


Cc:
    President and Commander in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
v
    The Director-General, Directorate of Security Service (DSS)
v
    Chairman, Police Service Commission, PSC
v
    Minister of Police Affairs
v
    The Senate President, Nigerian Senate
v
    The Speaker, House of representatives
v
    Executive Governor of Anambra State
v
    Amnesty International Nigeria
v
    Human Rights Watch, USA
v
    Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, NOPRIN
v
    International Society for the Civil Liberties and Rule of Law.
v

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