Posted by News Express | 16 April 2022 | 736 times
By PAMELA EBOH, Awka
A human rights group, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), has called on the Police Service Commission (PSC) to investigate complaints of abuse of power, aiding crime and violence, obstruction of justice and discreditable conduct of a senior police officer, ASP Mathew Abu Michael.
The group, in a statement signed by the Executive Chairman, Okechukwu Nwanguma, accused the officer of aiding and abetting crime and violence in Isuaniocha community in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
It also alleged that Michael were collaborating with some wealthy and influential members of the community currently standing trial for murder and attempted murder, in a nefarious attempt to obstruct and derail justice in their ongoing trial in Anambra State High Courts 2 for the murder of Angus Okoye and the attempted murder of Chidiebele Okoye.
The statement partly reads: “The scheme by ASP Matthew Abu Michael, who is allegedly working for the accused persons in the cases, is to turn the cases against the victims/complainants and their relatives and sympathizers using intimidation, arrest, detention and frame up with false allegations to scare them away from attending court to pursue their cases against them.
“We are informed that ASP Matthew Abu Michael has been working with and always taking sides with the accused persons in the matter as far back as 2018 when the communal conflict that led to the murder started. He has always helped them to write fictitious petitions or counter petitions and made sure that the petitions were directed to whichever unit he is attached to and always with him as the IPO. He has carried out many illegal arrests, detention and torture of many Isuaniocha people.
“Currently, he has abandoned his post at the FCID Abuja and permanently stationed in Awka, using a gang of violent criminal youths called Bakasi whose members include some of those who were involved in the murder and had been wanted by the Police at Force CID Abuja, since 2018.
“They have been hunting after members of the community, including the families of the murdered and attempted murder victims, with Supol Matthew Abu Michael supervising the invasion of their houses, burning and vandalizing their houses and household property.
“So far, Supol Matthew Abu Michael has arrested over 20 members of the community, with some detained for days and released only after they paid money for their release, while he took about 5 others to the Force CID, Abuja where he has detained them for the past 3 weeks and torturing them to sign self-incriminating statements.”
RULAAC stressed that ASP Matthew caused the names of some members of the deceased family, youth executives and other members of the community sympathetic to them to be published and gazetted as persons wanted by the police for various phantom crimes, including alleged terrorism.
According to the group, Michael obtained the questionable court order for the gazette from a Nasarawa State Magistrate’s Court, far away from Anambra State where they reside and where the alleged crimes were committed.
While describing it as part of his scheme to scare them away from attending court to pursue their cases at Anambra State High Courts in Awka, it observed that on several occasions, Michael and his group threatened the plaintiffs in the cases with consequences if they find them near the courts.
“They have actually laid ambush for them to arrest them on their way to court. All these alleged hatchet job by ASP Matthew Abu are being funded by Festus Onyeagolu and Anthony Onyeagolu, the two prime suspects in the two cases of the murder of late Angus Okoye and the attempted murder of Chidiebele Okoye,” RULAAC added.
Giving insight into the matter, RULAAC recalled a longstanding communal dispute in Isuaniocha community in Awka North council area since 2018, saying that some members of the community, including the deposed President-General Anthony Onyeagolu, were arrested and eventually charged to court for murder and attempted murder.
It noted that due to financial influence, it took time to get to that stage, saying: "In fact, while in custody in Awka awaiting arraignment based on DPP advice, the prime suspect was secretly released but later rearrested based on alarm raised by RULAAC upon being informed about the secret release to evade arraignment.
“This was during the time of DIG Ogbizi as DIG Force CID. After being arraigned and remanded, Anthony Onyeagolu still found his way out and is now back to the Community, allegedly aided by ASP Matthew Abu Michael along with some armed men said to include some of the suspects who evaded arrest and now burning down houses of some targeted members of the community, vandalizing their property and carrying out indiscriminate arrests.”
The group reeled out the names of those alleged to be targeted to include the community youth leader, head of the community vigilante group and relatives of the murder and attempted murder victims for whose cases the sponsor of the renewed attack is still standing trial but working hard to frustrate his trial.
It also listed names of eight people that were released after being forced to pay N20,000 each between March 12 to March 22, to include, Jonathan Azoba, Ogueji Azoba, Obiajulu Azoba, Lambard Nwife, Chukwuma Okoye, Okechukwu Okoye, Ifeanyi Okoye, and a native doctor whose shrine was destroyed, Obari.
While confirming that it has seen video evidence of some of the acts of arson and vandalism carried out by Supol Matthew and his armed gang, including one Emeka Maduka, who is one of the suspects on the run, it noted, “We have also evidence of attempts by ASP Matthew to counteract efforts to track and arrest the principal suspect, Anthony Onyeagolu, his sponsor who was being tracked for arrest by the FCID in 2022.
“We are informed that since the past 4 years when the community dispute started, Supol Matthew has always assisted the same party by writing petitions or counter petitions for them and always making sure that the matter comes to wherever he is as IPO. This is often to divert attention from the investigation of criminal allegations against those paying him to work for them. He has been involved in such cases from when he was attached to SARS, FSARS, IGP Monitoring Team and now Force CID, Abuja.”
RULAAC further expressed concern about the dimension of resorting to arson, wondering if that is part of Police investigation.
“We are further informed that the last time the plaintiffs were supposed to attend court in Awka for the continuation of the murder trial involving ASP Matthew Abu’s sponsors, armed thugs masquerading as Bakasi and commanded by Supol Matthew laid ambush to arrest them in order to frustrate the continuation of the trial.
“Below are the names of those taken to Abuja by SUPOL Mathew on March 23, 2022 and currently detained, tortured and forced to sign incriminating statements, Emeka Attansey, Michael Odie Friday Okeke, Obiadi Nwobu, Chiedozie Nnobi – a security personnel working with the vigilante chairman. Condition to release him is to lead them where to arrest the vigilante chairman,” the statement added.
RULAAC requested the Chairman of the Police Commission to order an investigation into the alleged discreditable conducts of ASP Matthew Abu Michael and issue appropriate disciplinary actions against him if he is found to have offered his services as a Police officer for selfish benefit to derail justice and intimidate innocent citizens.
“He should be directed to allow the trial of those involved in murder and attempted murder to continue unhindered so that justice can be served. The action of having the names of innocent citizens of the community gazetted as wanted criminals should also be investigated,” RULAAC said.
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