A 32-year-old man from Amaezegba Nkalaha community in Ishielu LGA of Ebonyi State, Mr. Chigbo Eze, on Sunday 29th September 2019, was allegedly whipped to death by four (4) police officers from the Enugu State Police Command at the moribund Nigercem Company, Nkalagu.
The slain man, Chigbo Eze who was of the Umu-Eze family of Nkalaha community met his death on that fateful black day in what is widely believed in the community to be an unfortunate circumstance as he was not known to be a criminal during his life-time.
Narrating the ordeal to Citizens’ Advocate at Nkalagu, the President of Nkalaha Youths, Mr. Ebe Sunday who said that the deceased was a victim of circumstance explained that Mr. Chigbo Eze, a father of 2, returned from his farm and took his lunch and at about 2.30pm left for the Nigerian area, mainly, Over-Rail town for an errand.
Mr. Ebe Sunday also revealed that as Mr. Eze Chigbo drove his motorcycle through Group 8 Nigercem quarters, the policemen at the checkpoint in the same area, pursued him with Bike and later got hold of him and beat him to a pulp.
He said that as Chigbo Eze was being whipped, he kept asking what he did to warrant such brutal treatment but he wasn’t given an answer until he breathed his last.
He further said that after the torture and the death of the man, it was the DPO Ezillo Division that went there on a tip off and took the corpse of Chigbo to the mortuary at Ezzamgbo.
He also stated that the police officers alleged that Chigbo was caught vandalizing the Nigercem installations and that even alleged that he was killed in a gun battle with the security agents in the area and that so many vandalizes have been caught on many occasions and taken to the police.
In another interview, one Augustine Okwo said the deceased was his son and he never knew him as a criminal.
He also said he has forestalled the youths from the community from any demonstration against any government authority in respect of the gruesome killing but that the law would take its course.
He described his son as hardworking, loyal and enterprising and wondered why such an unjustifiable jungle justice would be meted on him and appealed for appropriate investigation so that the guilty would be paid in their own coins.
Town Union President, Nkalaha council Mr. Ikechukwu Onwa, also confirmed the ugly incident and condemned the act where even an offender should be tortured to death instead of being punished appropriately using legal measures against him.
He said that if Chigbo Eze was instantly shot to death, it would have been better than, torturing him until he gave up the ghost.
He assured that the angered youths of the area have been controlled to avoid aggravating the case, adding that the matter had been reported to the appropriate government authorities for action.
He also said that he was aware that the police officers from the Enugu Command and who were alleged to have killed the man were released from custody after 3 days and currently at their duty post at NIGERCEM.
The Town union president further said that the community was not happy over the incident and appealed to the government to look into the matter and ensure that those that are guilty of the offense would be forced to face the wrath of the law.
He said, “The police alleged that they caught Mr. Chigbo Eze as he was carrying Indian hemp which they said, he was going to supply to a customer in the area but such should not have claimed his life.”
Also, a youth leader of the community, Mr. Ede Sunday recalled his ordeal with the same police officers sometime September in which one of his eyes was broken.
He told the reporter that some of the youths from Nkalaha were going to Nigercem to charge their phones as there has been no power in Nkalaha, the same police officers intercepted them and tied them up and began to beat them mercilessly.
He appealed to the police to release the 8 boys, that they are not criminals.
Describing his ordeal, he said the policemen arrested him and tied him to a stake, beat him blue-black and in the process, his eye was hit with a heavy stick and was later released and he went to the hospital and treated himself.
He also reported that the police at the checkpoint were already biased as, according to him, about 74 names are in their list as wanted criminals from Nkalaha and wondered how they got the names of such innocent citizens of the area without catching them committing any crime.
He passionately appealed to the Ebonyi State Police Command and the state government and other security agencies to come to the aid of the citizens of Nkalaha community, by granting them free access to their neighbouring Over-Rail NIGERCEM Town where they buy and sell goods as they were not vandals, adding that no member of the community has freedom of movement again.
He also called on the Human Right Commission to kindly advocate for the slain Chigbo Eze as fear and lack of fund to pursue the case to a logical conclusion could mar the case, adding that Nkalaha people have always been known for being law abiding and supportive of government’s policies and programmes.
When contacted, the PPRO, Ebonyi State Police Command, ASP Loveth Oda confirmed the story.
She said that the deceased had no issue with the accused police officers.
She further stated the allegation that the police arrested the said Chigbo Eze in an unlawful act and tortured him which led to his sudden death.
Odah assured that the matter was being investigated by the command.
But the DPO Ezillo when contacted was not available, but the head of SARs in the Division confirmed the incident and said that the matter is under investigation.
Other members of Nkalaha who spoke to the reporter said that the community has been so calm and cool at the sudden killing of their son, brother, Chigho was tragic, arguing that the police ought to be friendly, not hostile.