IGP Usman Alkali Baba (file photo)
It also said that the murder of the police officers was committed, while Ojokoh was still in the custody of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Imo State Police Command following his arrest on April 15, 2023
By Valentine Amanze
A not-for-profit non-governmental human rights advocacy organization, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), has appealed to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, to investigate the “curious” police parading of Mr. Thaddeus Ikechukwu Ojokoh by the Imo State Police Command along with others accused of killing some police officers in Imo State.
It also said that the murder of the police officers was committed, while Ojokoh was still in the custody of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Imo State Police Command following his arrest on April 15, 2023.
RULAAC, in a statement issued by Okechukwu Nwanguma, while wondering why Ojokoh was paraded for a crime he never committed, also urged the IGP to gurantee his right to life, human dignity and fair trial.
The group, who called for his release, narrated that Ojokoh, a 53-year-old professional tailor and father of five, was arrested by operatives of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Tiger Base, Owerri, Imo State on April 15, 2023 and has been detained incommunicado since that date.
“On April 30, Imo State Police Command issued a statement that Ojokoh was among the men that murdered the policemen on national duty.
“He was eventually paraded by the Imo State Police Command along with others who were later arrested following the killing of the police officers on April 21 and said to be among the assailants who attacked and killed the police officers in Ngor-Okpala, Imo State on April 21, 2023,” RULAAC stated.
It however condemned the presumption of many police officers in the South East that everyone accused of being an IPOB member has automatically lost his Constitutionally guaranteed rights to due process, including the presumption of innocence until otherwise proven in a fair trial.
“This is a very dangerous attitude that has led to the murder of many innocent citizens. The Constitution guarantees every person arrested for a recognizable offense the right to fair trial. Summary executions and extrajudicial killings amount to murder and can have ugly repercussions including creating a cycle of violence,” it stated.
RULAAC further disclosed that members of Ojokoh’s family of Umugwa Umuokrika, Ahiazu Mbaise council, Imo State, informed it that Thaddeus was still in police custody as at the date of the attack and killing of the police officers.
“How then could he have participated in the attack and killing while still in police custody?” it quried.
Ojokoh, a well-known professional tailor at Afor Oru Market in Ahiazu Mbaise, Imo State, was arrsted on April 15 on the claim that he was a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), while the attack against police officers was launched on April 21.
It therefore means that Ojokoh was still in police custody as at that date.
Meanwhile, his family members were said to have not had access to him since the day he was arrested.
They also fear about his life because most people arrested by the police in Imo State and labeled IPOB member have usually been executed extrajudicially or disappeared, according to a source.
The source said that there had been instances of people arrested on the claim that they were IPOB members and killed or disappeared and evidence later emerged to disprove the claim.
“Thaddeus Ojokoh’s family members find it both curious and ironic that Ojokoh, who was arrested on April 15 and still detained at the Tiger Base Owerri as at April 21 when the attack was carried out and has not been released up to date could be paraded alongside others alleged to have carried out that same attack,” the source said.
Ojokoh’s family members were said to be hoping that the police would have finished their investigation and cleared him of any links with IPOB or charged him to court.
“But on April 21, six days after his arrest, hoodlums attacked policemen on patrol at Ngor-Okpala and killed four of them.
“Attacks on police installations or killing of police officers are totally condemnable serious and unjustifiable crimes.
“The attack and killing of four police officers at Ngor-Okpala junction on April 21, 2023 was unjustifiable and all those responsible should not be spared the maximum penalty permitted by law,” family stated.