By Pita Omon (Crime Editor)
The wheel of justice seems to at least slow grind in favour of the slain mechanic in Ikokwu section of Diobu, Port Harcourt.
At least, four of six police officers in Port Harcourt, suspected of having hands in the torture to death of Chima Ikwunado have appeared in a Port Harcourt court.
They are three male and one female, accused in the sensational killing of Ikwunado, an Ikokwu mechanic in Port Harcourt in December 2019, have at last appeared in a port Harcourt chief magistrate’s court.
The officers were named as Ayogu Fidelis, (42), Eke Chibuzor (36), Egbunefu Felix (32) and the only female, Rose Georgewill (30).
The officers were first dismissed the previous day, Monday, July 6, 2020, after several months in police detention at the State Criminal Investigation Department (State CID) following an Orderly Room Trial.
The trial result and dismissal was conveyed to the public by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni, who said the new police commissioner, Joseph Makun, did so in keeping with his promise not to protect any criminal minded police officer.
The statement of their dismissal and order to arraign them in court said; “The officers from the Eagle Crack Squad who allegedly tortured late Chima Ikwunado to death in December 2019 and unlawfully inflicted various degrees of injuries on, Ifeanyi Onyekwere, Ogbonna Victor, Ifeanyi Osuji, and Osaze Friday (all male), have been dismissed by the Rivers State Police Command and will be charged to court tomorrow for conspiracy and murder, among other charges.
“The officers who had gone through the processes of Orderly Room Trials were today de-kitted and dismissed from the Force, hence their arraignment.
The arraignment caused a stir in court the next day (Tuesday, July 7, 2020) when the police van brought the four. Many wanted specially to see the female officer notorious for manhandling the male organ of suspects and for particularly doing so with the late Ikwunado’s organ, according to the survivors. They also wanted to see the commander of the Eagle Squad but he was not among them.
The case started exactly at 10.46am with the judge warning that people should maintain social distance in the court which was full. Many stood to listen as the charge sheet number PMC/828c/2020.
The first charge accused them of conspiring to commit a felony (murder of Chima Ikwunado, the mechanic), an offence punishable under section 324 of the criminal code, cap37, Vol.11, laws of Rivers State of Nigeria. Second charge accused them of torturing Chima to death under section 319(1).
The third charge talked about the torture of Ifeanyi Onyekwere who was tied upside down and beaten for hours. The fourth to seventh charges described the torture of the other Ikokwu 5.
The highlight of the case came when lawyer to the female accused (Rose), David Abuah, urged the judge to debar the media from feasting on the case, saying his client had faced media trial. The judge seemed to ignore the submission.
In his ruling, the judge said both the counts where his court had jurisdiction and the ones he did not have would be sent to the director of public prosecution for determination. The case was adjourned to September 18, 2020.
All the proceedings, the accused persons fought off media exposure and cameras.
The case itself seems to be a product of social activism and media fireworks especially with the former commissioner of police, Mustapha Dandaura, until Mukan arrived to pledge openness that has moved the case forward.
Several entities have continued to intervene to stop the sensational killing and torture from going to court but international pressure has been intense.