Over one month after the arrest of one Mr Nnamdi Emeh, an IT expert and a corps member serving with the Anambra State Police Command, there seems to be studied silence over his continued detention.
He was arrested over allegations of money laundering, impersonation, illegal possession of arms, among others.
Emeh had been declared wanted by the state police command, and was subsequently tracked down to Benin Republic, through the help of the Interpol, and was arrested and renditioned to Nigeria on March 3, and had been in detention at the force headquarters, Abuja.
Meanwhile, there are feelers that the real reason for the declaration of Emeh as a wanted man, may have nothing to do with the allegations proffered against him, but rather related to the revelation of alleged atrocious activities of some senior police officers of the command.
Shortly before the presidential election of February 25, news had broken of some unholy conducts of the above officers. An anonymous blogger, Gistlover, in pictorial and video evidence had revealed allegations of killing of arrested suspects, harvest of vital organs of their body for sale, and fraudulent acquisition of their properties for their personal use, among others.
The allegations had generated enough heat and had led to the invitation of the officers concerned, but sadly enough, they were released the next day, without any sanction, while they returned to their duty posts and carried on with their job, to the displeasure of many.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Usman Alkali Baba, in the wake of the allegations, set up a panel to investigate the claims against the officers.
DAILY POST gathered that the panel later relocated to Anambra State, for purposes of proximity, to ensure nearness to the scenes of the alleged crimes, and to entertain testimonies from victims, their relatives and others who may wish to testify. The panel was given two weeks to accomplish the task.
Upon the beginning of sitting, this reporter made efforts to find out where the panel was sitting, but it was later gathered that the panel may have resolved to sit secretly.
Mr Chris Azor, a prominent rights activist and chairman of the association of Civil Society groups in Anambra told DAILY POST that: “I’m not aware where the panel is sitting. I’m also interested in attending their sitting, but all efforts to find where they sit has shown that the panel may be sitting in secret.”
When DAILY POST reached the spokesperson of the state police command, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga for the venue of the panel’s sitting, he insisted the matter was no longer within the jurisdiction of the command, as the Force Headquarters has assumed charge of the matter.
Ikenga urged this reporter to reach the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi for comments on the matter.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the silence pervading the continued detention of the corps member, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations, numbering over 20 had urged the police to rather treat Emeh as a whistleblower, who has right of protection, rather than a fugitive.
Their statement, which had the names of all 29 CSOs as signatory, wondered why Emeh, who should be eulogised for his courage in exposing the atrocious activities of the police officers, is rather being held incommunicado.
According to them, “the corps member is believed to have top information about top officers of the command, because he is being frustrated from public interrogation, or even being heard in public. He had worked with the command as an IT expert, and is said to have tracked many suspects, and is aware of most of the automobiles belonging to suspects, which the suspected police officers had allegedly converted as their personal property.”
Meanwhile, last Sunday, there was a twist when the Civil Society Coalition Against Impunity raised the alarm about Emeh being transported to Anambra from Abuja by road to stand trial.
The group said Emeh was released to an officer simply described as SP Ayo, who is OC Homicide, State CID, Awka, who had arrived Abuja a day before.
The group said: “They are currently travelling by road this morning Sunday, 2 April 2023, on their way to Anambra State. There are serious concerns that Nnamdi Emeh may not arrive Awka alive, and may never have his day in court. Nnamdi Emeh has been detained incommunicado in the Police headquarters Abuja since Friday, March 3, 2023, after he was arrested in Benin Republic. He is the only child of his aged parents. Please raise your voice to prevent the unlawful execution of Nnamdi Emeh.”
A week after the supposed arrival of Emeh in Awka, there is still no news of his arraignment.
When DAILY POST reached out to the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, he said: “I am aware that the team (panel investigating the police officers) has carried out an investigation into the allegations, and a report has been sent to the IGP recently. I will get a copy of the report and act.”
But reacting to the news that Emeh was driven to Awka for arraignment, Adejobi said he was not aware, and that: “I will need to find out about that.”
No feedback was later received about this.
As of the time of filing this report, it is neither clear what the findings of the panel are, nor has the report been made open.
But there are still fears about the safety of Emeh who is still in police custody, just as there are concerns that the high-handedness of officers of the Rapid Response Squad in Awkuzu, and other police units, including the Anti-Cult Squad, has not ceased.
In a latest press release, Civil Society Coalition Against Impunity called for the release of Emeh, or that he be immediately charged to court if found to have committed any crime.
The group said: “On Sunday 2 April 2023, Mr. Emeh was transferred to the Anambra State police command where he is currently facing further interrogation. Among his interrogators in Anambra State are senior police officers whom he had indicted for seizing posh vehicles recovered from criminal suspects, who were later executed in police custody.
“We urge the Nigerian police to immediately release him or charge him for a recognized offence. We believe that Emeh Nnamdi could be at risk of ill-treatment or extrajudicial execution if he is not released or charged to court immediately.
“Whistleblowers are vital for a transparent society. They are essential to awakening informed debate within public opinion, crucial to opening up investigations by journalists and necessary for questioning decision-makers.
“Whistleblowers are a vital link in the promotion of human rights, the rule of law, transparency, accountability, social justice, and the fight against corruption,” the group said.