Posted by By Dipo Kehinde on
The tale of two brothers held by the police in Lagos as suspected robbers, has ended with a twist in the tail. Police are claiming that Eugene Obikeze and Donatus Obikeze had died in a shoot-out.
The tale of two brothers held by the police in Lagos as suspected robbers, has ended with a twist in the tail.
Police are claiming that Eugene Obikeze and Donatus Obikeze had died in a shoot-out. But members of the suspects’ family, who had been waiting for over two years for their release have told Daily Sun that the men were murdered secretly after they were picked up from their home. And lawyers have been asking why the suspects were not charged to court.
To make things worse, officers handling the case at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) were said to have impounded and later converted to personal use a car and a bus belonging to the suspects. The investigating police officer, identified as Sgt. Donatus, however, said the allegation was untrue.
The wife of one of the victims, Mrs. Ijeoma Obikeze, described her husband as a struggling man who never breached the laws of the land.
One of the brothers was said to have quarrelled with a retired Air Force officer on their street and the man had promised to deal with him. Shortly after the threat was made, policemen allegedly came to pick them up. And there was no record of their arrest as the case file is said to be missing.
Lawyers at Tony Momoh Chambers in Anthony village have been on the case. The head of the chambers, Barrister P.J.N. Azubuike, told Daily Sun: "Up till now, we don’t know the complainant. The police were just saying that the people confessed; confessed to what? They also taught the neighbours to lie."
As she spoke about her family, Ijeoma said: "My husband is a very good man. I don’t know him as a thief. ‘When I was living with my husband in 2001, we were staying at Ladipo, inside a warehouse, after our landlord sacked us from his house. Later he said he was not staying there again. Then I was sent to the village and he said he was going into business in the border area."
The Obikeze brothers were not the only suspects arrested that Sunday morning when the police stormed their house. Others were said to have paid N100, 000 to bail themselves but the brothers, according to Ijeoma, could not raise the N200, 000 which their captors were asking for.
Azubuike said: "As a matter of fact, Mrs. Ijeoma Obikeze who put to bed about the same week the incident occurred, tried all she could to get her husband out but these men were denied bail by the police team led by one Supol Egbe and Sgt Donatus. So, the helpless wife had to resort to fate. She had, however, wished that her husband and the brother would return one day, but up till now, the men have not been seen.
"On the day of their arrest, the policemen took away two vehicles –One Nissan Primera saloon car and one Volkswagen Vanagon bus, both belonging to our client’s husband, Eugene Obikeze. They took the handset and pad-locked the room occupied by the brothers.
"When Eugene’s wife came back from the village, she discovered that some people had packed into her husband’s room, as new tenants. And these people told her that the police had carted away the suspects’ property.
Following a directive from the then Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Tafa Balogun, the Deputy Commissioner of Police at SCID, Panti, Mr. Musiliu Lawal ordered an investigation into the matter and the IPO, Sgt Donatus, was traced to Ajeromi Police station where he had been posted.
Sgt. Donatus said when he was leaving the SCID, the brothers were still in the cell and the vehicles recovered from them were left in police custody at Panti. He denied allegations that he had been using the Nissan Primera as his private car.
"The police arrested the tenant who took over Obikeze’s room," Azubuike said. "They claimed that the neighbours shared the property. The TV was said to be in the next room occupied by a lady, who said she only had cooking utensils and buckets. She said she had no TV, but the police found the TV in her room during the search. They arrested her and packed the recovered things to Panti.
"Police later released the electronics to the people who they said had produced receipts."
Ijeoma had three children for her slain husband. The eldest is Uzoma, 6, followed by Nneamaka, 4, and Arinze, 3. Their father’s Vanagon bus marked XW 715 KJA was registered in Arinze’s name.
The two brothers arrested in August 2002 were described as the only male children of an old widow from Okija in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The lawyers told Daily Sun that they want to recover from the police, the two vehicles taken from Eugene, his handset and other items removed from his home.
They also want some of Eugene's neighbours at 42, Charles Avenue, Ojo Road, Suru Alaba, Lagos to return items which they allegedly removed from the suspects' room and the money paid for Eugene's motorcycle that was sold by one of the tenants.
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