SaharaReporters has obtained a copy of a petition written by an Abuja-based law firm, Ikeyi & Arifayan, to Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris urging the police boss to arrest of Sam Chukwu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, who is a suspect in the 2009 kidnap and murder of Lotachukwu (Lota) Ezeudu. Lota Ezeudu was a second-year student of accountancy at the University of Nigeria (Enugu campus) at the time he was kidnapped in late September 2009 and later murdered. The kidnap victim, whose father, Bona Ezeudu, is one of Nigeria’s major painters and sculptors, was 19 at the time of his kidnap.
Dated August 8, 2017, the letter is titled “Petition against Mr. Sam Chukwu (CSP): re: A Case of involvement in the kidnap and murder of Mr. Lotachukwu Noble Ezeudu”. The law firm informed the IGP that they were writing on behalf of Bona Ezeudu, the father of the kidnap victim who was his parents’ only male child. “On 26 September 2009, Lotachukwu Ezeudu was kidnapped at Trans-Ekulu, Enugu State,” the petition stated, adding, “He was subsequently killed on 6 October 2009 even after our client had paid the ransom demanded by the murderers.”
The petition, which is also copied to Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, disclosed: “Following investigation by the Nigeria Police Force into the kidnap and eventual murder of the deceased, Mr. Sam Chukwu (who was at the time the Divisional Police Officer, Ogui Police Station, Enugu) and 8 other accused persons were, on 25 March 2011, charged before Honorable Justice A. A. Nwobodo of the High Court of Enugu State (the ‘Court’) in State v. Chijioke Chinwuba & 8 ors. (Suit No. E/141C/2010) for the offenses of conspiracy, kidnapping and murder of the deceased…Mr. Sam Chukwu was also consequently suspended from work by the then Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo.”
The law firm informed IGP Idris that, following Mr. Chukwu’s failure to present himself in court, the presiding judge “issued a bench warrant for his arrest on 14 February 2012.” The law firm added that the bench warrant was still subsisting, informing the police boss that Mr. Chukwu has in effect continued to defy the court by never showing up.
In a series of previous reports, SaharaReporters disclosed that police authorities in Enugu and Abuja had for more than two years claimed that they were not aware of Mr. Chukwu’s whereabouts, implying that the rogue officer was a fugitive from justice. However, shortly before former IGP Mohammed Dikko Abubakar retired in 2014, he reinstated Mr. Chukwu, promoted him and assigned him to serve as the quartermaster at the headquarters of the southeast zonal command in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State. Mr. Abubakar’s successor, Suleiman Abba, paid no heed to appeals to compel Mr. Chukwu to appear in court to answer the accusation of being involved in the tragic Lota Ezeudu case. Instead, the Police Service Commission chaired by former IGP Mike Okiro promoted Sam Chukwu to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police and posted him to serve in Lagos.
In their petition, the law firm representing Bona Ezeudu told the current IGP that it was “curious that Mr. Sam Chukwu has not been arrested by the police and brought to face trial for his alleged involvement in the kidnap and murder of the deceased as the bench warrant commands the police to do.” They added, “In the circumstance, the Nigeria Police Force may inadvertently, and unknown to the Police High Command, be shielding Mr. Sam Chukwu from standing trial in a criminal proceeding in which he is named as an accused person and in respect of which the Court has commanded the police to arrest and bring him to court.”
The petitioners urged IGP Idris to “thoroughly investigate this petition with a view to ensuring that justice is not only done but is seen to be done in this matter,” adding that their client was encouraged to forward the petition on account of the IGP’s “visible passion to pursue justice in all cases as well as your personal commitment to eject bad eggs from the Nigeria Police Force and to root out corruption amongst its officers and men.”
The law firm declared that a proper investigation of Sam Chukwu’s alleged criminal activities “would also be consistent with the strong commitment of the present administration to uphold the rule of law and enthrone justice in Nigeria.”
Despite Mr. Chukwu’s continued defiance of the court, the Ministry of Justice in Enugu State has since February 2012 been prosecuting other suspects for their alleged involvement in the kidnap and murder of Lota Ezeudu. Sam Chukwu’s son, Nnaemeka Chukwu, was reportedly used to lure Lota Ezeudu into the kidnap trap. The police officer’s son has been in in prison custody, undergoing trial. Nnaemeka Chukwu and Lota Ezeudu were classmates in secondary school.
Other suspects being tried include Ernest Okeke, a former police officer who was dismissed for involvement in an armed robbery, and Uche Moses Amajor, the son of an hotelier who has arrested April of 2011 after being on the run for more than a year and a half. Another suspect, Desmond Chinwuba, also a sacked police officer, has been on the run for several years.
A senior police source in Enugu told our correspondent that Mr. Sam Chukwu retired a few months ago from the police, and was enjoying his full retirement benefits. The source said he doubted that IGP Idris would take action to force Mr. Chukwu to appear before the court and answer criminal charges. “That is the right action, to tell Chukwu that he must go before the court or lose his retirement benefits. But look at how all the past IGs shielded him [Mr. Chukwu] and even promoted him despite the fact there are serious charges against him,” said the officer.
He commended SaharaReporters for its consistent reports on the Lota Ezeudu kidnap and murder case, adding that some police officers were appalled that a man like Chukwu was allowed to remain the police in the face of grave allegations against him compounded by his refusal to appear in court.