Several police and political sources have told SaharaReporters that Sam Chukwu, a sinister police officer reputed for masterminding a group of rogue policemen who carried out kidnapping, armed robbery and other major crimes in Enugu State, was recently promoted and deployed to Lagos in order to fortify a team of senior police officers charged with helping the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) carry out massive rigging in Lagos State and other southwest states. Our police sources named Mr. Chukwu, who is linked to a major kidnap and murder case in Enugu, as a key player in the scheme, whose leader is Assistant Inspector General of Police Joseph Mbu.
“Sam Chukwu is one of the biggest criminals in the police force. That is why Sir Mike Okiro gave him promotion and sent him to Lagos in January,” a top police source at police headquarters in Abuja told SaharaReporters in a telephone interview. The officer, who said he and numerous other officers were incensed at the increasing use of police officers for illegal assignments, added, “Instead of sacking Sam Chukwu, they have sent him to Lagos today to join the operation of rigging election.”
Prosecutors in Enugu State have accused Mr. Chukwu of being the sponsor of a ring of kidnappers who once menaced the state capital of Enugu and its surrounding areas. Mr. Chukwu and his team of rogue officers were reportedly responsible for the September 2009 kidnap and presumed murder of Lotachukwu (Lota) Ezeudu, a 19-year old second year accountancy student at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus. One of the junior officers involved in the kidnapping ring, Ernest Okeke, is in detention undergoing trial, but another key player, Desmond Chinwuba, remains in hiding.
Mr. Chukwu himself went into hiding for more than a year and a half to evade a summons to stand trial in the case. His failure to appear in court led Justice Afam Nwobodo to issue a warrant for his arrest, with his name appearing on wanted posters pasted in Enugu and his hometown of Aninri in Awgu local government area.
For close to two years, police authorities claimed they were unaware of Mr. Chukwu’s whereabouts. But in July of 2014, with days left before his retirement, former Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar reinstated the fugitive cop and posted him to the headquarters of the southeast command to assume the post of provost.
At the end of 2014, the Police Service Commission headed by Mike Okiro, a former IG of Police, included Mr. Chukwu’s name on a list of officers promoted to assistant commissioner. In a secretive scheme, the commission failed to release the names of all promoted officers, a move meant to hide the inclusion of Mr. Chukwu’s name, according to a senior police source in Abuja.
With his promotion, Mr. Chukwu was posted to Lagos. Several police sources in the state and Abuja have disclosed that Mr. Chukwu’s assignment is to help coordinate the harassment of voters and a series of electoral practices aimed at helping the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the forthcoming elections in Lagos and other southwest states. One officer disclosed that Mr. Okiro had selected a special team of officers with a criminal reputation and sent them to work with Mr. Mbu to help the PDP manipulate polls in the southwest. Top PDP officials, including Bode George and former Minister of State for Defense Musiliu Obanikoro, reportedly pressed President Goodluck Jonathan to sign off on the ambitious rigging plan, arguing that the ruling party may not be able to retain power at the center without carrying a few southwest states.
Our sources said, since his January 2015 deployment to Lagos, Mr. Chukwu has been part of a group that meets frequently with controversial Assistant Inspector General Joseph Mbu to strategize about rigging the elections scheduled to begin March 28. Our sources said Mr. Okiro, Mr. Mbu and Mr. Chukwu were in league on the rigging scheme, adding that the accused kidnap kingpin had become notorious in Enugu State where he helped rig elections for former Governor Chimaraoke Nnamani and current deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.
“He meets with AIG [Mbu] and it is understood that their job is to prepare the Mopol and others they will use to rig,” one of our sources in Lagos claimed. An Abuja-based police source added that many officers continued to question the reinstatement of Sam Chukwu, and his deployment to Lagos to work with Mr. Mbu, an officer known for his reckless willingness to do the bidding of President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience Jonathan. As a commissioner of police in Rivers State, Mr. Mbu virtually went to war against Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who had a political quarrel with the president and his wife.
Other sources said Mr. Chukwu has a reputation for spearheading electoral fraud. An Enugu-based businessman told SaharaReporters that it was well known in Enugu that Mr. Chukwu was often hired to rig elections for politicians. He said the rogue officer owns numerous houses in the Trans-Ekulu area of Enugu, adding that the properties were acquired from the officer’s criminal activities.
In August 2005, Mr. Chukwu, who was then the DPO at Ogui police station, was accused of ordering the execution of a young man, Chinedu Ani, at the behest of a then member of the House of Representatives U.S.A. Igwesi. An Enugu-based lawyer familiar with the case told our correspondent that Mr. Chukwu sent two police officers after two young men who had had a verbal encounter with the legislator. The policemen cornered the young men in their car and opened fire, killing one and seriously wounding the other.
The horrific daylight execution by the police, which happened near ACB Bank on Ogui Road, Enugu, sparked public protests. Then Governor Chimaraoke Nnamani of Enugu State set up a panel headed by Justice Ken Ezeike to investigate the police attack. Even though the panel submitted a report, Mr. Nnamani’s government failed to issue a white paper. An Enugu-based lawyer accused then Governor Nnamani of bowing to pressure from Senator Ekweremadu and other politicians in the state to shield Mr. Chukwu from blame.
A human rights activist in Lagos said his group was monitoring the activities of Mr. Mbu and Mr. Chukwu, adding that it would take vigilance on the part of all citizens to ensure that nobody can sabotage the wishes of the electorate.