Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Rivers: Family of slain man demands justice

Chibuike Ikeagwuchi was shot dead by the police on Saturday.

• September 25, 2020
Nigerian police officers used to illustrate the story
Nigerian police officers used to illustrate the story

The family of a 20-year-old man shot dead by the police in Port-Harcourt on Saturday has urged public support towards justice. 

Chibuike Ikeagwuchi was taking a stroll Saturday afternoon when a team of police officers accosted him in Elelenwo neighbourhood, triggering a standoff that ended with his murder, his sister told Peoples Gazette. 

Maureen Ikweagwuchi said it was her slain brother’s friend who was also arrested in the neighbourhood that first disclosed the tragic news of his death. 

Ms. Ikweagwuchi said when her brother and his friend saw that the police were chasing them and calling them a thief, they both stopped for the officers to search them.

“He brought out everything from his bag, showed the officers that they are not thieves but suddenly, an officer shot Chibuike from behind”, she said in tears.

The officers failed to take Mr. Ikweagwuchi to the hospital after firing at him, instead watching as he writhed in the pool of his blood, his sister said. 

The family also alleged undignified treatment of their son’s remains before being sent to the mortuary at the University of Port-Harcourt, and threatened violence against his friend who witnessed the incident.

“The police threatened to kill my brother’s friend if he doesn’t shut his mouth,” Ms. Ikweagwuchi said. “All I want is justice for my late brother.” 

Chibuike Ikeagwuchi
Family of Chibuike Ikeagwuchi, 20, is seeking justice after he was reportedly murdered by police officers in Port-Harcourt on September 21. [Photo Credit: Family.]

A spokesman for the police in Rivers did not return multiple requests for comments Thursday night. 

Mr. Ikweagwuchi’s fate marked the latest in a string of deadly attacks against unarmed Nigerians by police officers. The incessant use of lethal force has prompted rights advocates to rally everyday Nigerians to demand an end to police brutality.

But despite several changes in rule of engagement and remodelling of departments, no serious changes in personnel conduct have been enforced.

Last month, Peoples Gazette witnessed how some police officers were stopping and harassing young motorists in Port-Harcourt, confiscating their possessions, including cash, without apparent justification.

The worsening frequency and intensity of police fatal brutality has upended the expectations of rights rights across the country, with many now finding it difficult to see a bright spot on the crisis.

“Our police officers have no intention of changing their primitive and anti-democratic conduct,” Dare Obayemi, a police reform advocate, told Peoples Gazette Thursday night. “The current system in which we have to seek justice over wanton killing of citizens by police officers cannot be sustained.”

Mr. Obayemi said only an overhaul of the nation’s police system can guarantee and end to senseless killings linked to officers. Last week, President Buhari signed a police reform bill into law.

“We are still waiting to get the full details of how the amended law would be implemented,” Mr. Obayemi said. “That is assuming the system has not rotten collapsed redemption.”

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