Posted by By Chris Ikwunze, Port Harcourt on
When Samuel Eze, a Port Harcourt-based businessman and his younger brother, Felix Eze, a Part III Mechanical Engineering student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, set out on June 5, 2005 to visit a friend, Mr Theophilus Imezi and felicitate with him on his movement to a new apartment, little did they know that death was lurking around the corner.
When Samuel Eze, a Port Harcourt-based businessman and his younger brother, Felix Eze, a Part III Mechanical Engineering student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, set out on June 5, 2005 to visit a friend, Mr Theophilus Imezi and felicitate with him on his movement to a new apartment, little did they know that death was lurking around the corner. In the course of their journey their car was allegedly shot at, by a police patrol team.
Theophilus, who just moved to a new apartment at Road 4, Agip Estate, Rumueme, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had earlier in the day entertained the Ezes and another friend, named Chijioke Chukwu, with fried rice and chicken prepared by his fiancée, as well as wine.
At about 10pm when the Eze brothers, with Chukwu, decided to return to their base at Eliokparanwo Crescent, Rumupirikon, Port Harcourt, their host, Theophilus, and his fiancée decided to drop them with their new Mercedes Benz 190 car marked AG 453KMK.
According to Theophilus, who survived the police attack, what followed was like a theatre of the absurd. Theophilus, who drove the car with his fiancée in front and his three guests at the back seat, told Daily Sun, that while they were moving along Iwofe Road, they overtook two vehicles, a police patrol van and another Jetta car, and suddenly they heard a gunshot.
The shattering noise of the bullet in the car, Theophilus said, made them to suspect armed robbers, so he raced to Eliokparanwo in front of the house where the Ezes live. But as they came out to narrate the ordeal to the people who heard their screaming, they saw the same police vehicle coming which made them run helter-skelter. But unknown to them, the elder, Samuel Eze, was hit on the leg during the first shot by the police and he could not run like others. At this point, Theophilus said, the younger Felix came back to help Samuel, but that proved to be fatal, as the two brothers were riddled with bullets by police in front of their residence despite a protest from onlookers that the boys were not robbers. Their bodies were packed in the police van and taken away.
At the Rumuepirikom police station, Daily Sun learnt that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) ordered the patrol team, led by one Olu Alabi, to rush the Ezes, to the hospital. Rather than comply, the police team finished them off and took their corpses to the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (BMH), Port Harcourt.
Meanwhile, Theophilus who rushed to Rumuepirikom Police Station the same night to lodge a report of the incident, was detained for 17days and was only released after a team of lawyers led by Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) waded into the matter.
The DPO told K.U. Obayi Esq., a lawyer from Ukala’s Chambers that the killing was a clear case of mistaken identity. According to him, they heard a distress call from their headquarters about armed robbery incident in the area. The police had put up a defence, saying they found a gun in the vehicle to support their claim that the deceased were armed robbers.
The deceased family, led by John Ugwu had, following police volte face, petitioned the Commissioner of Police (CP), Rivers State, through their lawyer, Mr. Ukala, imploring him to wade into the matter and see that justice was done.
Daily Sun learnt that following the CP’s intervention, the six policemen whose names were given as Sgt. Frederick Abah, CPL Oluyemi Olorin, PC Musa Eleojo, PC Anele Ogbu, Inspectors Olu and Alabi on the patrol team that carried out the murder were arrested on Friday June 10. They were, however, released barely 48 hours later by the police who advised the family members to go and bury their dead and not to make trouble as the deceased were not the first to be felled by police bullet.
Ugwu, the family head, had since petitioned the AIG zone 6, Calabar, imploring him to step into the matter as investigation so far in Rivers State Police Command was a far cry from seeking justice.
In the petition to the AIG, Ugwu said that the deceased were not armed robbers but citizens of Nigeria pursuing their legitimate business, adding that the gun allegedly found by the police in the car was planted to cover up the heinous crime committed by these policemen.
"We know as well as you do that the police in fighting crime are entitled to use gun. But the use of the gun will be in line with force order 237 and S.73 of the criminal code, which in this particular incident is not one of such that the police is covered by the aforesaid force order. The application of the force is unprovoked and indeed excessive," the petitioner said, adding: "This scenario is in contradiction to the avowed mission of the police at present, which is to protect and serve with integrity because in the present state of affairs they destroy lives and serve with brutality."
Ugwu appealed to the AIG to use his good offices to wade into the gruesome murder of the two brothers, so as to bring the killers to book.
When Daily Sun called at the Rumuepirikom police station, the DPO said that the incident was regrettable but declined further comments on the matter.
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