Many were taken by shock when they woke on 17 January 2020 to the tragic news of the murder of one Chima in Portharcourt by the men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).
How it all started:
According to the account of one Comrade Phils on Facebook here is how Chima, reportedly a mechanic, was killed by men of the Nigerian Police Force in Portharcourt.
“#JusticeForChima: Police Kill Innocent Mechanic, Falsely Accuse and Torture Colleague in Port Harcourt
This is the story as narrated by the owner of the car that Chima Ikwunado drove on the fateful day he was arrested in Portharcourt: (Please, be aware that some parts may have been edited for grammar correction and readability)
This story is presented from the first-person point of view. The point of view of the car owner, whom we will refer to as Comrade Phils.
“On the 19th of December 2019, I gave my car to Chima Ikwenado to work on the Air Conditioner (A.C). The following day, I called him to follow up on the progress of the job but did not get a response from him.
“This was when I decided to visit his workshop at Ikoku to know what was going on with my car. I was surprised when I got to their workshop and he wasn’t there.
“Upon quizzing his colleagues at the workshop on his whereabouts, I discovered that he and 3 other men were stopped by some police officers for driving on a one-way route and they may have been arrested.
“This news calmed me down a bit.
Looking for the boys:
“In other to trace them, I started visiting every police station in Port-Harcourt, making inquiries until I got to Mile 1 Police Station and saw my car parked in front of the office of the Eagle Crack Police Division (also known as E-Crack).
“Again, I was relieved knowing that m car was in safe hands thinking that the police were my friend. I was wrong. I approached the front desk and identified myself as the owner of the car parked outside and would like to know how it got here and why it is being detained
“I was shocked when one of the policemen pointed his gun at me and ordered me to leave if I do not want to be shot.
“Perplexed, I wondered what crime I have committed by presenting myself as the owner of the car. However, I left out of the fear of getting shot.
How they were arrested:
“When I got home, I started thinking of a plan of attack on how to deal with the issue. 2 hours late, I heard a knock on my gate and opened to a young man who introduced himself as ‘Obinna, the brother to Chima’.
“Chima was the name of my mechanic. He asked for my name and explained to me that his brother told him to meet me. So, I urgently asked him if he knew why his brother was arrested.
“He said Chima told him that he and the other boys were arrested while testing two cars on the road. 3 of them were in a Camry and 2 were in my own car. They needed to carry out the test after working on the cars. However, because of road congestion, they decided to take a one-way.
“The policemen stopped them and asked them for bribes. When they offered them some money, the officers got annoyed on the account that the sum was too little. They became aggressive as they were desperate to earn money to enjoy the Christmas holidays.
False allegations (Robbery Charge)
“The police officers immediately accused them of robbery and levied the crime of having stolen the two cars against them.
“The officers asked them to submit themselves to be searched. They found some money on them. All the boys had money in their pockets. According to Obinna, N97,000 (ninety-seven thousand naira) was found on Chima, while N50,000 (fifty thousand naira) was found on another one, N16,000 on the other thereby making the entire sum of money found on them at that point a total of N150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand naira).
“I assume the officers must have thought to themselves that they could not afford to let go of such money. Afterall, they needed it for the Christmas festivals.
“They placed them all in handcuffs, collected the money from them, seized their phones and took them to the police station. Upon arriving at the station, they hung the boys upside down, with their legs tied to the ceiling fan hooks and their heads facing the ground.
Torture and abuse in Mile 1 Police Station E-Crack Division, Portharcourt:
“There, they tortured them and forced them to make false confessions against themselves after abusing them with all manner of weapons.
“The youngest of them, a 19-year-old, seeing that he was at the point of death agreed to make incriminatory confessions against them. He made confessions that involved my car and falsely confessed that they robbed my car from a lady whose house they robbed by forcing their way into her compound, broke the glass of the car, forced the door open and used a ‘master key’ to start the car’s engine. That they broke the gate and drove away.
Responding with Men of Nigerian Air Force:
“This was how Mr. Obinna narrated what happed to me. At least, I now know the reason why my car was there. So I made contact with people at the Nigerian Air Force Base who sent 2 soldiers to accompany me to the police station on my next visit. The two soldiers arrived at my house and we went to the station together.
“Upon our arrival at the Mile 1 E-Crack Division, the IPO in charge of the case treated the men of the Air Fore rudely and told them that this was purely a civilian matter and a case of robbery after insulting them.
“The soldiers got angry and asked me if they could beat up the police officers. Calmly, I told them not to as I feared that would worsen the situation for the boys in their custody. So I left with the officers.
“I called the Air Force Commander to explain the current situation to him. He requested that I come with copies of the car particulars. I told him I would get them and revert to him accordingly.
“I searched my house for the car particulars but did not find them. I then remembered that my driver was the one who renewed the papers just less than two months ago. So I asked my driver for the papers and he told me that he left both the original and photocopies in the car.
“I asked him to call the man at Inland Revenue to print copies. I got the copies and contacted the Air Force Commander again to let him know that I have the papers.
Retrieving the cars…
“The Commander joined me at the police station on the 23rd of December 2019. We met the Commander of the E-Crack team, and I noticed the name on his uniform as Benson.
“The Air Force Commander introduced himself and introduced me as his brother. Mr Benson called the IPO of the case to come and narrate the story. The IPO explained how the boys jumped into a lady’s compound broke the glass of the car, used a ‘master key’ to start the car, broke the gate and drove off.
“That they, the police officers, apprehended the boys at the point of sale. That the boys were communicating with the buyer from Aba and that one of the boys have already confessed to the crime.
“After hearing this, at first I was wondering if it was some Nigerian movie the man was narrating or was he talking about my own car?
“The E-Crack Commander now asked the IPO to bring the boy who made the confession. The boy was brought in after two minutes, limping seriously and with severe wounds that were smelling.
“The E-Crack commander then asked the boy to say the truth promising him that no one would torture him. The boy then spoke and told us that he was only an apprentice under his boss ‘Chima”, and that the car belonged to Chima’s client. He admitted to making the false confession because of the torture that almost took his life. He showed us his handcuffed arms, with rotting wounds on them.
“The E-Crack Commander then asked the IPO to return the boy to his cell. I told the E-Crack Commander that I have copies of my car particulars with me which I just retrieved from the Inland Revenue because my driver forgot the original copies in the car.
“I requested that the IPO go to the car to verify that the documents with me were indeed the same with the ones in the car. The Commander of the E-Crack team agreed and the IPO went but came back three minutes later and said there were no papers in the car.
“Well, I have the copies right before us, and I asked the commander if the copies on me could be verified, and he agreed that they could. I left the station with the Air Force Commander.
“On the 30th of Decemeber 2019, I returned to the station and met with the Commander to confirm if the documents have been verified. He called the IPO who confirmed that the documents were authentic.
“The Commander then asked for my full names and I told him. He said that the names on the papers shared my surname but different first and second names, and asked why that was the situation. I explained that the first and second names were my younger sisters. Then he requested that I bring her to the station.
“I called my sister and she came to the station to see the E-Crack Commander
The case turns worse…
” He asked her how long she has used the car for, and she confirmed that it has been over two years. He then asked the IPO to release my car and the second car that was in the custody, an old model Camry.
“However, I asked about the boys before leaving his office because I still have unfinished business with my mechanic. He asked me how long I have known the mechanic for, and I told him that I have known him for over four years and that he repairs all my vehicles.
“The Commander then told me that he is investigating all the boys for cultism. I had no choice but to leave the station with my car.
The family gets a lawyer…
“On the 2nd of January 2020, I got a call from a lawyer who told me he was engaged by the family of the boys in the Police custody. He said he has spoken with the E-Crack Commander about the case. He said he knew the particular Commander before and was shocked to find out he has been transferred there. He said they were long time friends.
“The lawyer then told me that the Commander confessed to him that the case was a bad one, that his officers had “overworked”. He switched to Pidgen English and said, “de case don spoil, my boys don over work”. The lawyer said he did not understand and insisted that the Commander explain himself in clearer words. The commander opened up to him that my mechanic “Chima” is dead.
“He was tortured to death
The boys were charged to court (for robbery and cultism)…
“The lawyer then asked where the corpse was. The Commander said he does not trust him enough to reveal such ‘classified’ information to him. That the best he can do for the other four boys that are in their custody is to levy a minor offense against them and charge them to court on time, so they can be released on bail sooner.
“He asked the lawyer to come to the station the following day. According to the lawyer, as soon as he left the station, the Commander immediately charged the boys to court that same day on a charge of my car robbery and cultism.
“After hearing this from the lawyer, I again thought that since the police have released my car to me after verifying that is was mine and I never reported my car as stolen, why then did they still go ahead and charged the boys for the robbery of my car?
“I later discovered the reason they took that decision, which I will reveal shortly.
Chima was declared wanted, tagged a car thief…
“As I write this story, the remaining four boys are still in prison custody with their wounds rotting away. Chima that was killed by the police was tagged as “At Large.” The answer to my earlier question came out when the family members of the deceased visited the court to look at a copy of the charge sheet to confirm what the police wrote on it. The police declared that the owner of the car, which is supposed to be me, confirmed to them that his car was stolen as described. I never made such a statement anywhere.
“My car was never robbed.
A devastated family meets their sons in deplorable conditions…
“The families of the boys visited the prison in Port-Harcourt to see their loved ones and insisted on taking photographs of their injuries, with some even excreting water and decayed substances.
“The prison warders said each photograph would cost them N15,000 (fifteen thousand naira) each. The families, unable to afford the exorbitant charges, left the prison crying.
Comrade’s life is at risk…
“At this moment in my life, I and my family members are very scared of the police. I wanted to send my brother out with my car then realized that his driver’s license was still under process. I was scared of what could happen, and decided against it, because if the police could kill an innocent person for driving on “one way”, then it means they could also kill another for not possessing a driver’s license.
“As I write this message, my wife is beside me shivering and saying that I should make the message anonymous, out of the fear that I could be killed by the police for making the story public.
“Please, if I get any mosquito bute, you should know who is responsive.
“I came to know that the deceased mechanic got married just six months ago and that his wife is a few months pregnant.
“Again, the families of the 5 boys are in abject poverty and could not even afford a lawyer to defend their sons.
“Below are the names of the people involved:
“Chima Ikwunado (killed by the police)
“SP. Benson Adetuyi (Commander E-Crack)
“Mile-1 Police Station, PortHarcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
“Inspector Sam (IPO) Mile 1 Police Station, PortHarcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
Above is the story of how Chima Ikwunado was allegedly killed by men of the Nigerian Police Force according to Comrade, who chose to stay anonymous for his own safety.