Elders and other stakeholders of Umuagulu community in Asaba, Delta State have petitioned Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, over an alleged multi-million naira bribery scandal involving the heads of the Inspector General Police (IGP) Monitoring Unit in Abuja and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Asaba.
In their petition obtained by SaharaReporters, the elders alleged that the heads of the IGP Monitoring Unit and the CID, among other senior police officials in Zone 5, Benin City and Delta State, have been accepting bribes to shield a notorious criminal, Isitua Etiaka, and his gang who have been terrorizing their community.
The petition, entitled, “Complaint Of Facts Of Brigandage, Violent Land Grabbing Campaign, Recruitment Of Cultists, Brazed Display Of Firearms And Intimidation/Harassment Of People Of Umuagulu Community, Asaba, Against Isitua Etiaka And His Armed Gang,” was signed on behalf of the community by Diokpa Joseph Mgbeze, Anandu Nwosa, Azuka Mordi and Ignatius Mokogu.
“We have observed with surprise and dismay the meddlesomeness of some senior police officers who, after receiving huge cash bribes running into millions of naira from Isitua Etiaka, collude with him to suppress facts in our series of complaints, petitions and cases against him,” the petition read.
“The compromised stance of some of the high-ranking police officers has made us lose total confidence in the Nigerian police. Some of the police officers backing Isitua Etiaka in his atrocious crimes against the people of Umuagulu community are the current head of Inspector General of Police (IGP) monitoring unit, Abuja, DCP Samuel Ojo, head of CID, Asaba, and others."
The community called on the Police Service Commission and the IGP for the immediate redeployment of the AIG Zone 5 and all the above mentioned officers so as to stop them from promoting crime in Delta State.
"It beats our imagination why senior officers of their ranks are backing a notorious criminal against a peaceful community," the elders said.
Among other pleas in their petition to the NSA and Governor Okowa, the community urged the State Security Service (SSS) in Delta State to investigate all the aforementioned issues, carry out surveillance on Mr. Etiaka and his gang, and recover all illegally acquired weapons in their possession.
“We demand that the SSS uses its machinery to put to an end Etiaka's excesses and criminalities against the Umuaglu community and demand that it retrieves the case file of Etiaka's criminalities from the office of the head of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Monitoring Unit, Abuja,” the community said in the petition.
SaharaReporters learned that faced with the avalanche of frustration by the State CID in Asaba, the people of Umuagulu community and Ibusa had to jointly petition the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Abuja, and Mr. Etiaka was arrested and two rifles recovered from him.
However, while the investigation was on, his lawyer, Anthony Sawyer, through connivance of the State CID, wrote a spurious petition to the IGP Monitoring Unit in Abuja, alleging bribery against the federal SARS. The IGP Monitoring Unit subsequently took over the case and released Mr. Etiaka a few days later.
Lamenting the compromised posture of some of the senior police officers frustrating justice, a lawyer and staff of the Delta State Ministry of Justice stated that the ministry, through the Director of Public Prosecution (DDP), has come out with legal advice that established a ten-count charge of murder and other felonious offenses preferred against the notorious criminal.
“The Delta State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice has before now reviewed Etiaka’s case files for trials at the Agbor High Court and Ibusa Magistrate Court. But after taking a bribe of N3 million, the head of the IGP Monitoring Unit, Abuja, has continued to frustrate all efforts.
“Etiaka is a notorious criminal, a native of Asaba, a drug peddler deported in 2014 to Nigeria. Upon his return, he recruited men and armed them with guns and began to terrorize the people in Asaba and its environs. Credible information before us has it that to gain support, Etiaka gave parcels of land to CSP Chukwu in A Division, Asaba, SP Daniel Iroakeyi, in charge of X-Squad, Asaba, the Divisional Police Officer, A Division, Asaba, Inspector Ndudi Junbor, Sergeant Kenneth Chinweze and other numerous officers in the State CID Asaba, and these officers have continued to back him in his land grabbing and other violent offenses," the lawyer said.
An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) at the Delta State Police Command who is familiar with the case and the criminal activities of Mr. Etiaka and his gang told SaharaReporters that “In August 2016, Etiaka attacked some members of his community land committee and inflicted injuries on them and their property. Several attempts made to arrest him were frustrated by his lawyer, Anthony Sawyer, and the above officers, including the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of CID Asaba, who he gave N2 million.
“Currently, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone 5, Benin City, and other officers, after collecting their bribes, have perfected plans to frustrate the planned prosecution of the notorious criminal, Etiaka, by ordering his release from police detention in the State CID Asaba to escape prosecution at the High Court, Agbor and Magistrate Court, Ibusa. The legal advice and the charges preferred against Etiaka which were served on the Deputy Commission in charge of CID, Mr. Samuel Ojo, since April 2017, have been hidden from the CP.
“But on discovery of the legal advice and charges from the Justice Ministry, the CP was furious that his men did not obey the legal opinion of the DPP and the directive of the Attorney General. On realizing that the CP had concluded plans to hand over Etiaka to the Ministry to face prosecution, the DCP in charge of CID, Mr. Ojo, connived with Etiaka's lawyer and a spurious petition was hurriedly written to AIG Zone 5, with a huge cash bribe. Upon the receipt of the petition, the AIG quickly assigned it to one Festus and Emmanuel of Surveillance Unit Zone 5, and till date Etiaka has not been tried,” the ASP lamented.
As at the time of filing in this report, all efforts to reach the Delta State head of CID, Samuel Ojo, were frustrated, as our correspondent was not allowed into his office. Calls to his mobile line and that of the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Zanna Ibrahim, were not answered.