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Group Demands Release Of Police Sergeant, Others Detained By Assistant Police IG Okon In Abia

According to RULAAC, Okon ignored proper police disciplinary measures but decided to have illegally detained Ukaegbu and his colleagues who are in the Anti-Cultism Unit of Abia State Police Command in Umuahia based on a petition by a woman, Joy Chima.

The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has demanded the release of a police sergeant, Ugochukwu Ukaegbu detained on the order of the Assistant of Inspector General of Police, Ene Okon in Abia.


According to RULAAC, Okon ignored proper police disciplinary measures but decided to have illegally detained Ukaegbu and his colleagues who are in the Anti-Cultism Unit of Abia State Police Command in Umuahia based on a petition by a woman, Joy Chima.


The group revealed that Ukaegbu has been in detention for two weeks owing to the complaints made by the woman that the sergeant and his team demanded money from her to release her seized tricycle.


In a statement made available to SaharaReporters by RULAAC Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma on Thursday, AIG Okon without investigating the matter just commanded that Ukaegbu be detained without due process.


“Two weeks ago, a senior police officer at Zone 9, Umuahia called to inform RULAAC that one Sgt. Ugochukwu Ukaegbu attached to the Anti-Cultism Unit, Abia State Police Command, Umuahia had been in custody for five days- as at the date of information- at the Zone 9 Headquarters on the orders of the AIG in charge of Zone 9, AIG Ene Okon.


“According to the information, the Sgt. was among a team of officers that handled a case of robbery where suspects confessed to have used a tricycle (Keke) for the operation but the investigating team refused to release the said Keke to the woman identified as Joy Chima who claimed that the Keke belongs to her.


“Upon this development, the woman who is said to be close to the AIG, petitioned the AIG alleging that the team demanded money from her to release her Keke. It was based on this allegation that the AIG ordered the detention of Sgt. Ukaegbu and his team members and has kept them in detention till date- into the second week.


“Upon receiving this complaint, RULAAC attempted to reach AIG Okon on the phone to verify the information and urge him to respect the officers' due process rights and to treat them in accordance with the laws and established police disciplinary procedures. He did not respond.


“RULAAC then sent him a text requesting him to respect the rights of the officers to due process. Again he did not reply,” the statement read in part.


The group revealed that it has made attempts to reach the police boss, but he did not respond to the matter, adding that no Nigerian citizen should be detained more than 48 hours at most under the constitution without being charged to court.


“This morning, more than one week later, the senior police officer called again to remind us that it has entered the second week since Sgt Ugochukwu Ukaegbu and his team mates of Anti-Cultism Unit, Abia State Command have been detained at Zone 9 based on the orders of the AIG Zone 9, Umuahia.


“Again, we sent a message to the AIG drawing his attention to the continued, indefinite detention of the officers and inquiring if there is any internal (police) rules or regulations that permit such long detention of an officer for any offence whatsoever?


“We drew his attention to the fact that the constitution does not permit the detention of any citizen beyond 24 hours or at most 48 hours. We asked for his release from unlawful detention


“Again, the AIG did not respond and we followed up with a phone call to the AIG and he told us that 'the Sgt is a police officer subject to police rules and regulations.' Before we could say a word further he said 'carry your rule of law to anywhere... I'm busy, please, bye bye' and he hung up," the statement revealed further.


According to RULAAC, AIG Okon has reacted arrogantly to the matter as he asked the group to ‘take (their) rule of law to anywhere’, a statement that betrayed a law enforcement officer.


It, then, called on the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba to intervene in the matter so as to get justice for Ukaegbu and his colleagues.


“We are shocked beyond words that an officer of the level of an AIG could act so lawlessly and frivolously and still be posturing arrogantly as though there's nothing wrong about violating the rights of an officer by detaining him indefinitely. His dismissive and defiant utterance challenging us to 'take (our) rule of law to anywhere' clearly indicates his contempt for the rule of law.


“We are not aware that the Police Act and Regulations or any subsidiary legislation governing police discipline permits the detention of a police officer indefinitely for any offence. A police officer is a human being and therefore is also entitled to the enjoyment of human rights, just like other citizens.


“We are concerned that when a police officer who has attained the exalted rank of AIG acts with such hubris, arrogance and defiance he represents a huge risk to public safety and a threat to the rule of law. This is because he occupies an important and sensitive office and stands a chance of becoming the IGP and it would be a disaster having such an officer as IGP.


“We request the IGP to intervene and order the AIG Ene Okon to immediately release Sgt Ugochukwu Ukaegbu and others and not to further victimise them based on this complaint,” the statement added.