The Anambra State Police Stakeholders Partnership Forum (PSPF) has again raised serious concerns about the controversy surrounding the death of a young man in police custody last December.
Uchenna James Okafor was allegedly killed in the custody of Anambra State CID, annex, Awkuzu, in December 2022 and reported by a Twitter user who alleged that he was arrested for a case of ‘two fighting’ and taken to the police station on the 23rd of December 2022. The report stated that the parents of Uchenna were asked to bring the sum of N150,000.00 to bail him out.
On January 11, 2023, the police authorities announced that it had started a probe into the matter but shortly after, the Anambra State Police PRO, Ikenga Tochukwu, in what amount to be the preliminary result of its investigation, gave a police account of what happened: “It is a case of armed robbery and not a case of two fighting as alleged. The complainant positively identified the three suspects. There were marks of violence and serious wound on the body of the complainant as a result of the attack by the suspects.”
“The suspects’ statements were taken and they all confessed to the crime. They were detained with other suspects in the cell. The other suspects while in custody revealed that as they were sleeping, late Uchenna started acting abnormally. He screamed and hit his head on the wall before he slumped. The victim was taken to the hospital and he was confirmed dead by the doctor. No money was demanded or collected by the IPO or any Policeman as attested by the deceased father.” Said Mr. Tochuchukwu.
The police spokesman also promised that the police would conduct an autopsy into the incident to ascertain the cause of Uchenna’s death.
However, two weeks down the line, the police is yet to give an update on its investigation. The Anambra Police Stakeholders Partnership Forum (PSPF) in a statement signed by Prince Chris Azor and Okechukwu Nwanguma said it is concerned that two weeks after the public statement by the Anambra State Police Command, nothing has been heard again from the Police and the parents of the victim.
“It is suspected that the victim may have been tortured to death. A transparent and credible autopsy will reveal the cause of death. “We are aware that torture remains a prevalent practice in the Nigeria Police contrary to Sections 35-37 of the new Police Act 2020, which prohibits torture, cruel and other degrading and inhuman treatment. Section 62 of the new Police Act 2020 also states that an arrested person must be released within 24 hours with or without bail, except it involves a capital offence, which is punishable with death” The group said.
The group called on the Anambra Police Command to make a public statement revealing, among other things, the identity of the other citizens arrested with the deceased, the condition of their health, and how far the Police have gone with the investigation into the case, including the result of the autopsy conducted on the deceased.