Activist Comrade Phils, on Thursday, January 16, 2020, took to social media to narrate how Chima Ikwunado, who’s a mechanic by profession, was arrested and tortured to death by policemen in Rivers State.
Chima Ikwunado was reportedly tortured to death by policemen in Rivers – Comrade Phils
The deceased, an expectant father, got married six months ago.
Chima, according to the story shared by Phils, was in December 2019 arrested alongside four of his apprentices identified as Victor Ogbonna, Osaze Friday, Ifeanyi Osuji and Ifeanyi Onyekwere.
Chima and his apprentices were arrested for driving against traffic in the Port Harcourt area of Rivers, and were allegedly tortured to death at Mile 1 Police Station by policemen led by SP Benson Adetuyi.
#EndSARS Convener, Segalink has confirmed the incident, as he expressed confidence that justice will prevail in the matter. [Guardian]
The deceased and his apprentices were reportedly test-driving two cars, when the police accosted them and allegedly framed them up for robbery.
In a Facebook post, Phils stated that the brother of the deceased, as well as a customer of the deceased who prefers anonymity, narrated to him how men attached to Eagle Crack aka E Crack, Mile 1 Police Station in the state, perpetrated the act.
The post read, “I gave my car to my usual mechanic to fix Air Conditioner on Dec 19, 2019. I called him several times on the 20th and did not get an answer. I decided to visit his shop physically at Ikoku to find out that my car and the mechanic were nowhere to be found.
“I asked fellow mechanics around and one said he saw when the mechanic was driving one way and he suspects that he might have been apprehended by the police. My mind calmed down a bit after hearing this.
“I started visiting police stations in Port Harcourt one after the other, making inquiries until I got to Mile 1 Police Station and I saw my car parked in front of the Eagle Crack Police Division (aka E-Crack). I felt relieved thinking that the ‘police is my friend’, I was totally wrong.
“I presented myself quickly at the front desk to say that the car belongs to me and I want to know the reason it got to this place. I was shocked to be pointed a gun by one of the officers and I was asked to leave before I get shot. Wow…. I wondered what crime I could have committed to present myself as the owner of my car. But I had to leave before I got shot.
“I opened my gate to see a young man who introduced himself as Obinna, the brother to Chima, my mechanic. He asked me my name which I told him and that he was directed by his brother to meet me.
“So I asked him quickly if he knew the reason for the arrest. He said Chima told him that he and his boys were testing two cars, three boys in a Camry and two boys in my car, after doing some work on them. The traffic in Port-Harcourt around that time was terrible and they decided to drive one way.”
The robbery allegation
Going by the story shared, the policemen whose identities are yet to be disclosed, decided to frame up the mechanic, after realising the mechanics had money on them.
The story continued, “The police apprehend them and asked them for money. They offered an amount that was not acceptable to the police officers. The eyes of the police officers were completely red looking for money to solve their Christmas matters as this usually happens during the Christmas festive period in Nigeria.
“The police officers immediately changed the case to robbery, accusing the boys of stealing the two cars. The officers asked the boys to raise their hands and searched their pockets. They found money in each of the pockets of the boys.
“According to Obinna, N97, 000 was found on Chima, N50,000 on one of them, N16,000 on another etc, totalling over N150,000 in their pockets.”
Confession under duress
The story shared has it that the police handcuffed the automobile technicians, took their money and their telephones and took them to the station.
On getting to the station, the police allegedly subjected them to all manners of torture in order to get them to admit a robbery crime they never committed.
“The youngest of them who is only 19, was almost at the point of death and accepted to confess whatever they asked him to say.
“He started making false confession about my car, he agreed that my car was stolen and that, the car belongs to a lady and that, they jumped into the lady’s compound, broke the glass of the car, opened the door and used a master key to start the car. Broke the gate and drove off,” the vehicle owner was quoted as saying.
How the police ordeal was uncovered
The owner of the vehicle was said to have approached a friend of his, who’s a senior Nigerian Air Force officer.
He wrote, “The Air Force commander followed me to the police station on Dec 23, 2019. We met the Commander of E-Crack, 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 (Investigating Police Officer) 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 has 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 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 with smelling wounds. The E-Crack Commander asked the boy to tell the truth that no one would torture him. The boy now started talking by saying that he is only an apprentice under his boss, Chima, that the car belongs to Chima’s customer, that he made the false confession because he was tortured almost to the point of death, at this point, he stretched his arms with handcuffs towards the commander showing him the smelling wounds.”
How Chima’s death was learnt
While the car owner was able to recover his vehicle from the police, he said the suspects were never released.
According to him, he was told that the police had changed the scope of the case from armed robbery to cultism.
On Thursday, January 2, 2020, the owner of the car said a lawyer reached out to him to inform him that Chima had been killed in custody.
He added, “According to the barrister, as soon as he left the police station, the commander immediately charged the boys to court that same day on the charge of my car being stolen and cultism.
“After hearing this from the barrister, I again thought, the police had released my car to me after verifying that it is my car and I never told them that my car was ever stolen, why did they still charge the boys for my car robbery?
“I later found out the answer which I will say shortly after. As I write this story, the remaining four boys are in prison custody with wounds getting rotten and smelling. Chima that the police killed is tagged as ‘at large’. The answer to my question came out when the families of the deceased visited the court to see a copy of the charge sheet confirming that the police wrote on it that the owner of the car, which is supposed to me, confirmed to them that his car was stolen as described. I have never made such a statement anywhere. My car was never stolen.”
Confirming the incident, Activist Segun Awosanya, popularly known as Segalink said he had spoken with the family of the deceased, as well as the vehicle owner.
Segalink stated that the police had commenced an investigation into the matter.
The activist tweeted, “I have spoken with the brother of the deceased and also reached out to the owner of the vehicle. The CP has been asked to bring all the people involved to the Force Headquarters.”
Reacting to the story which has since gone viral on social media, the police through its complaint channel on Twitter, stated that the force has taken action on the case, and the officers involved are on their way to Abuja for investigation.