Traditional ruler, vigilante torture, injure teenage boy sent to dispose refuse •Accuse him of robbery

The Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has called on the Commissioner of Police (CP), Imo State Command to order investigation into the complaints by one Mr. Chimezie Joseph of
Umuoma Ogbe in Ahiazu Mbaise LGA, Imo State about his 16-year-old son, Chimezie Wisdom, who was arrested in the evening of 6/7/20 on his way to dispose refuse and accused of robbery

A statement signed by Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director said Mr Chimezie complained that Wisdom   was arrested by members of the community vigilante group led by the Community Youth Leader, Camilus Ike and taken before the traditional ruler of Umuoma, Ogbe, Ahiazu Mbaise LGA Eze Patrick Ihuoma.

Explaining the details the statement said Mr Chimezie “said the traditional ruler and members of the vigilante group tortured his son and inflicted grievous bodily injuries on different parts of his body, hitting him with sticks and using flames of fire from a burning wood to burn his body in a bid to force him to confess that he is an armed robber.

“He continuously denied the allegation. He said that the traditional ruler personally used a stick to hit him on the head and the back and he has since then been suffering severe headache. He said members of the vigilante group also used machetes to brutalise him leaving him with injuries.

”It was after seriously battering and grievously injuring him with serious wounds that the traditional ruler handed him over to the police at the local Ahiazu Police Division.

“Mr. Chimezie Joseph said he went to the traditional ruler and pleaded for the release of his son and the traditional ruler demanded the sum of five thousand Naira (N5,000) from him in addition to another sum of two thousand five hundred Naira (N2,500) which he said was in lieu of traditional hot drink for him as a traditional ruler, to go and ‘beg’ the police to release his son. But it turned out that the traditional ruler merely defrauded him.

“He said the traditional ruler instead, later ensured that the case was transferred to the State CID, Owerri.

“We found that from 6/7/20, the day Chimezie Wisdom was arrested until he was released on 21/7/20 after RULAAC brought the matter to the attention of DCP Musa of State CID, Owerri, who ordered his release, the boy was in detention for 16 days without access to his father who continued to visit the station but was not allowed to see him.

“Mr. Chimezie Joseph said on one of the days he visited to see his son, Officer Tom directed him to one lawyer identified as Barrister Iwu whom he said asked him to bring the sum of eighty thousand Naira (N80,000) for him to facilitate the release of his son. He said he had to call his brother who is based in Lagos and he sent him the sum of N80,000 which he handed over to the lawyer. Yet, his son was not released.

“Officer Tom continued to ask him to bring an additional two hundred and fifty thousand Naira (N250,000) without which, he would not release his son and further threatened that his son will go to jail if he doesn’t bring the money.

“Mr. Chimezie Joseph said he had to approach the traditional ruler again, still pleading the innocence of his son and appealing for his release. He said the traditional ruler asked him to give up his ‘land or company’ or give him the sum of 500 thousand Naira for his son to be released.

“He was eventually referred to RULAAC, and he informed us that this is a matter arising from a community dispute and ‘they’ decided to frame his innocent son with ‘armed robbery’ without stating who was robbed, where and when. He said some community members who have issues with his mother-in-law whom his son has been staying with connived with the said traditional ruler and the youth leader, one Camilus Ike to label his son in order to punish him.

“RULAAC called Officer Tom who is in charge of the case at  Imo State  CID, Owerri on his phone No. O8I 87I 287 5O and inquired. He claimed it’s an armed robbery case. We asked him who was robbed, when, where? Any complainant? He gave no cogent answer except to say that the case is still under investigation. We told him we were sending the boy's father back to him and that whatever feedback the man gives to us after their meeting will determine our next action.

“Mr. Chimezie Joseph called us back and said (Quote):  'I went to the IPO by name Oga Tom to ask the release of my son Wisdom. He said that the Barrister was given 80 thousand Naira that the Barrister only gave him thirty thousand that I should go and get the balance of 50 thousand Naira and bring to him before giving the boy bail’. Unquote.



“He said when Officer Tom saw that he was not forth coming with the additional money he was demanding, he now told him that he was charging the matter to court.

“We texted officer TOM who earlier told us that he's a senior police officer and we told him that we may be compelled to petition the CP against him and the NBA disciplinary committee against the said Barrister Iwu if he insists on collecting more money and fails to release Chimezie Wisdom before the end of the day. He did not budge.

“We wondered how the same senior officer who said the case is still under investigation would suddenly turn around to tell the boy's father that he is now charging the same matter still under investigation to court because, he didn’t receive additional bribe.

“It was at this point that we informed DCP Musa of the State CID, Owerri who promptly invited the boy’s father, and after interviewing everybody, ordered his immediate release.

“While processing his bail, and because the boy’s father did not provide the additional money which office Tom demanded for bail, he threatened that he would re-arrest the boy and hand him over to SARS.

“The boy is still bearing untreated serious bodily injuries. He needs serious medical including psychological rehabilitation. He said he was detained barebodied and was untreated of the injuries and hardly ate or had any bath during the period of 16 days of his unlawful detention.

“We call on the CP to investigate the conduct of Officer Tom, for indefinite detention, inhumane treatment, intimidation and extortion of bribe. He should return all the money he and his lawyer-ally extorted from Mr. Chimezie Joseph.

“We also call for an investigation of the activities of the traditional ruler of Umuoma, Ogbe, Ahiazu Mbaise LGA Eze Patrick Ihuoma and members of the community vigilante group led by the Community Youth Leader, Camilus Ike for extortion and torture.

“We call on the CP to use this case to send a clear and loud message that Imo State Police Command will no longer tolerate torture, abuse of Police powers, corruption and professional misconduct.”

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