An Enugu High Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Sam Chukwu in connection with the 2009 kidnap of Lotachukwu (Lota) Ezeudu.
SaharaReporters has obtained the arrest warrant which was issued in February after Mr. Chukwu failed to appear in court voluntarily.
Mr. Lota Ezeudu was a 19-year-old accountancy student at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus, when he was kidnapped on September 26, 2009. Despite his family’s payment of a ransom to the kidnappers, he has not been seen or heard from since.
Investigators have arrested several suspects, including Nnaemeka Chukwu, the DPO’s son who was a secondary school classmate of the kidnap victim. Other suspects include Ernest Okeke, a former police officer who was sacked and charged for involvement in armed robbery, Moses Uche Amajor, whose father owns Prosper Hotel in Trans-Ekulu area of Enugu, and Anthony Damachi, a taxi driver.
Investigators as well as prosecutors believe that the fugitive DPO was the mastermind of a kidnap ring that snatched Lota Ezeudu. A source told SaharaReporters that Mr. Chukwu, who spent close to 17 years in Enugu without transfer, ran a criminal enterprise that included kidnappings, armed robbery, assassinations-for-hire, and the rigging of election for several top politicians in the state.
The fleeing DPO will face several charges, including kidnap and murder, once he is arrested.
A source at the Enugu State police command told SaharaReporters that he was hopeful that the new Inspector-General of Police Abubakar would approve an extensive search to fish out Mr. Chukwu from his hiding place. The source also expressed disappointment that former IG Hafiz Ringim decided not to take any action to find the DPO. He added that Mr. Ringim’s inaction led many officers and residents of Enugu to believe the former IG benefited from the wealth that Mr. Chukwu accumulated through criminal activities.
A source close to the Ezeudu family disclosed that some friends of the family were seeking collecting donations in order to make huge billboards with Sam Chukwu’s photographs asking the public to come forward with any information on the hiding suspect. The source also said the committee of friends also plans to publish the “wanted” postures in several Nigerian newspapers.
A source with the Enugu police command told SaharaReporters that he had received unconfirmed reports that Sam Chukwu was sighted in Enugu as well as Abuja in the last year. “I think once oga IG orders a major search, the man will be smoked out from hiding very soon.”
In addition to Sam Chukwu, another suspect named Desmond Chinwuba remains at large. Both Chukwu and Chinwuba hail from the same town, Oduma in Aninri local government area of Enugu State. Like Ernest Okeke, Desmond Chinwuba was also fired from the police and was undergoing trial for armed robbery at the time they reportedly plotted and carried out the kidnap of Lota Ezeudu. Prior to Lota Ezeudu’s kidnap, both Desmond Chinwuba and Ernest Okeke resided in DPO Chukwu’s home and the DPO’s son used to introduce them to friends as his father’s personal assistants.
An investigator told SaharaReporters that he believes the former DPO knows where Desmond is hiding. “If Sam Chukwu knows that he is innocent, he should not be hiding from the court,” the source said.
In a related development, the trial judge in the kidnap case recently dismissed an application for bail made by Moses Uche Amajor, one of the major suspects. Moses Amajor was arrested last April after hiding for a year and a half.
Police sources told us that they knew that Amajor’s father, Charles Amajor, the proprietor of Prosper Hotel and a Kaduna-based businessman, kept his son in hiding even though he lied to investigators that he was unaware of his son’s whereabouts.
Since Moses Amajor was detained, his father has made several attempts to use his wealth to spring his son into freedom. In one move, Mr. Charles Amajor bribed Mahmud Isah, the area commander of the Funtua police, to obtain a fraudulent police report designed to provide Moses Amajor with an alibi. Mr. Isah’s document claimed that Moses Amajor had been at the Funtua police station on September 25, 2009 (a day before Lota Ezeudu’s kidnap) to report that he was a victim of an armed robbery attack.
A police source in Enugu told SaharaReporters that Isah’s report was “a categorical lie,” adding that the investigators and prosecutors have overwhelming evidence implicating Moses Amajor as a direct participant in the kidnap of Lota Ezeudu. The source said he hopes IG Abubakar would fire Isah from the police as well as order his arrest and prosecution along with Charles Amajor, the suspect’s father, who arranged a fraudulent document aimed at causing a miscarriage of justice.
After failing to establish alibi for his son, the hotelier then obtained a questionable medical report from one Dr. Okoli of the Enugu Prisons to the effect that Moses Uche Amajor was infected with hepatitis C and should be released to seek medical treatment. Two sources within Enugu Prison condemned the false medical report. They disclosed that the doctor was notorious for trying to write false diagnoses in order to help suspects in serious crimes to be released on bail.
A source in the Enugu State Ministry of Justice told SaharaReporters that he strongly agrees that Mr. Charles Amajor as well as Mahmud Isah and the prison doctor ought to be investigated and possibly tried to act as a deterrent to those who try to use their wealth or official positions to subvert the course of justice.
The trial of the suspects in the kidnap of Lota Ezeudu is scheduled to resume on March 26 at an Enugu High Court.