By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The Anambra Vigilante Group has cleared the air over the allegation of murder levelled against its Commander in Ojoto, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Mr. Ebubedike Okafor, who was recently accused of kidnapping and murdering a 25-year-old Enugu-born commercial tricyclist residing in Anambra, Mr. Christian Oluchukwu Onah.
It would be recalled that the media space was recently awashed with publications accusing Mr. Okafor of kidnapping the said Keke driver, killing him, dumping his corpse in a river, and reselling his tricycle to another person to whom the tricycle was tracked. The publications also stated that Mr. Okafor and some of his AVG personnel have been arrested and detained by the Ojoto Divisional Police Headquarters over the allegation.
However, addressing newsmen in Awka on Saturday, the Media and Publicity Secretary of the AVG, Mr. Nweke Nweke, dismissed the allegation as the figment of some criminal elements who want to dent the image of the AVG and that of the Commander in Ojoto, Mr. Okafor, whom, he said, had been very hardworking, productive, and resilient in fighting against crimes in the community since his assumption of office. He recalled how some parts of Ojoto used to be in the past, in terms of security, and noted that the security agencies has changed the narrative thereby ensuring a lasting peace and security in the community, as is seen today.
On what actually transpired, Mr Nweke narrated that a gang of kidnappers recently invaded Ojoto community, but was confronted by Mr. Okafor and his AVG personnel who went after them and battled them till they crossed the boundary of the community, before he retreated with his men.
According to him, preliminary investigations revealed that the murdered Keke rider was one of the kidnappers who invaded the community. He also explained that the youths and members of the community where the hoodlums ran to also went after them, which, he said, might have eventually led to the apprehension and consequent murder of the tricyclist.
“He was suspected to be a member of the kidnap gang. And he was either lynched by members of the public outside the Ojoto community and not within Ojoto.
“And one of the criminals who participated in lynching the suspect took his tricycle away. But they never knew that the tricycle had a tracker. And the tricycle was tracked to somebody, who has been apprehended and is currently in the police custody assisting the police in their investigation,” he said.
Nweke further explained that the tricycle was tracked by its owner who gave it out to the deceased on hire purchase, and not the members of the tricyclist, as many claim. He added that the family of the tricyclist was not living with him, and therefore, might not know what he was doing or commiting where he was residing. He equally warned the members of the public to disregard the allegation, as, according to him, AVG or its personnel are not murderers.
“Count AVG out of that allegation. AVG is not a murderer,” he said.
Going further, he said, “If somebody was killed in Keke, AVG wasn’t aware or involved. And, if the Keke was sold to someone else, the AVG wasn’t also aware of or involved in it; and the Commander wasn’t also aware.”
He also stressed that the AVG was always working hand-in-hand with the police and other security agencies in the state, adding that they always hand over every suspect they apprehended and every exhibit they recover to the Police.
“According to the rules guiding our job, what we do is that whenever we arrest any suspect, we hand over such person to the police, including any item recovered from the suspect.
“If the AVG Ojoto Commander had caught or recovered any item from the suspect, he wouldn’t have even kept them in his custody, let alone reselling them. So, for somebody to accuse or incriminate the Ojoto Commander that he killed a Keke rider and resold his Keke should be a very big tissue of lies. There’s no atom of truth in that allegation.”
Continuing, Nweke opined that the criminal elements in Ojoto community had seen that the AVG Commander, Mr. Okafor, was not giving them any breathing space in the community, which, he said, made them to frame up the allegation against him.
While also dismissing the allegation that the Ojoto AVG threw the corpse of the Keke driver into a river known as Mmiri John; Nweke described that as another cheap lie from the criminal elements and wondered why the said corpse had not floated on the river since then as was the case in Ezu River.
He said, “Before now, the road going from the Local Government Headquarters to the other side of the community, that’s Mmiri John area, was a no-go area.
“But the Commander of the Ojoto AVG and the vigilante in Ojoto, under the supervision of the Divisional Police Officer of Ojoto, made it a point of duty to clear the place and dislodge all the criminal elements in the area, thereby making Ojoto one of the most peaceful communities in Anambra State today.
“And those people who have been dislodged are not happy with the Commander there, and that brought about this allegation levelled against him.
“To give the Ojoto AVG or the Commander there the name of a kidnapper or murderer is a mere play and an attempt by the criminals to dislodge or destabilize the vigilante of Ojoto from performing their duties.”
He also hinted that the Police is currently investigating the matter, the outcome of which will be made available to the public soonest.
While reiterating that the AVG will not relent in carrying out its lawful duties in Anambra State, Mr. Nweke also commended the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, for the maximum support he has been giving to the AVG.
He said, “The Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Charles Chukwuma Soludo, has been doing much, particularly in supporting and equipping the AVG and all the security agencies in the state in the fight against crimes in Anambra State. The AVG is very grateful to the Governor. We never had it as good as now, looking at the level of support he is giving us and the logistics he has provided for us.”
He further added that the AVG would continue to work tirelessly to help Governor Soludo’s administration in achieving its vision of making Anambra State a liveable and prosperous homeland.
Earlier in his reaction, the Traditional Ruler of Ojoto community, H.R.H. Igwe Gerald Mbamalu also debunked the allegation against the Ojoto AVG Commander, maintaining that he cannot be a kidnapper or murderer and still be allowed to be the Chief Security Officer of the Community.
He also opined that the allegation was an instance of crime fighting back at the AVG Commander because of his productivity in the fight against crime in the community.
“When you fight crime, crime has a way of fighting back. I strongly believe that this crime that is fighting back is to blackmail the Ojoto AVG, so that they will be dismissed for the hoodlums to find their way back into the community. But that will not work. There is nothing hidden under the sun; the truth must come out…,” he said.
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