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N18m extortion, illegal detention: Anambra Businessman takes case to AGF, demands justice

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An Anambra businessman, Chief John Elochukwu who petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba on March 8, this year alleging extortion of N18 million from him as “ransom” to secure his freedom after he was unlawfully arrested and detained for five days by the Special Criminal Investigation Department, SCID-Annex Awkuzu Unit in Oyi Local Government Area of the state, has taken his case to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN.

Chief Elochukwu, in a fresh petition by his counsel, Charles Ugwu dated April 11, 2022 and addressed to the AGF, wondered why the police authorities have declined to properly investigate the matter while the affected police officers and their civilian accomplices responsible for his abduction, detention and extortion are walking freely and boasting that nothing would happen.

He prayed for urgent intervention of the AGF to enable him get the refund of the N18 million he was forcefully made to pay to secure his release “without any mention of the reason(s) why he was detained” as well as to save the lives of numerous others being held under similar circumstances now languishing in the cell of the SCID Awkuzu Unit “because they have not agreed to their ransom bid.”

“Sir, these incidences are countless with regards to the nefarious activities going on at the SCID Annex Awkuzu Unit and we are calling for serious investigation as numerous people are there languishing in the cell because they have not agreed to their ransom bid and one keep wondering why CSP Patrick Agbazue was allowed to remain at the SCID Annex Awkuzu Unit, when after the END SARS protest all other officers heading SARS formations were removed throughout the federation.”

In his earlier petition to the IGP dated March 8, 2022 which was acknowledged by his office on March 10, 2022, Elochukwu listed Mr. Martin Ngoesina Okechukwu, Mr. Chike Ajah, Mr. Ikechukwu Obiada (Omaba Block Industry), CSP Patrick Agbazue, Officer in-charge of SCID-Annex Awkuzu, Mr. Osim, the Admin Officer and Mr. Uche Chukwudi, Investigating Police Officer, (IPO) as those behind his ordeal and the alleged extortion.

He accused them of alleged kidnap, arrest, detention, intimidation and extortion of “N18 million ransom”which was withdrawn from his account number 2140743696 with the United Bank for Africa, UBA and paid into Mr. Ikechukwu Obiada’s account (Omaba Block Industry) to secure his release from them.

Elochukwu who hails from Umunnakwa Agwa village, Ifite-Nteje, Oyi local Government Area of Anambra state, according to his counsel, never had issue with any person or group in his community since he spends most of his time attending to his business.

The lawyer wrote: “Our client however informed us that on 20th February, 2022 at about 3.00am while he was sleeping in his house at the village, his premises was surrounded by some people who claimed to be Officers from the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Annex Awkuzu Unit and their mission was to get him arrested on account of a purported petition from the Inspector-General of Police, Force headquarters, Abuja against him.

“The officers, however, had no search warrant for their mission, but they themselves as police officers (as claimed) from the Anambra State Police Command Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Annex Awkuzu Unit, insisted on searching his entire premises, and after searching his house, they did not find any incriminating item(s) and still got him arrested with serious beating and subsequently detained him in their office.”

The lawyer stated that when their client (Elochukwu) queried why they were embarrassing him, the leader of the team told him that they were executing the petition written against him sent from the IGP’s office in Abuja, which, against normal procedure, was not shown to him nor produced when he demanded to see it.

According to the lawyer, Elochukwu was detained for five days and while in the cell he was taken to the office of CSP Patrick Agbazue at 3.00 am on the fifth day, by the accused persons, where he was informed that “they have agreed that he should pay the sum of Eighteen Million Naira only (N18,000,000.00) to secure his release from them, if not, he will be wasted that night and this was with much threat to his life by them.

“He (Elochukwu) told us that it was then he knew that it was actually kidnappers that took him, but were only using the (SCID) Annex Awkuzu Unit to perfect their act(s) in connivance with Mr. Martin Ngoesina Okechukwu and CSP Patrick Agbazue, the Officer-in-charge of SCID Annex Awkuzu Unit.”

Continuing, Elochukwu’s counsel said “our client became afraid of his life considering the level of inhumane treatment they are meting on him, agreed to their ransom bid and however started sourcing for money, which he eventually paid them through UBA Bank account No. 2140743696.”

Following the petition, Elochukwu’s lawyer stated that they were reliably informed that the IGP set up a team that went to Anambra for investigation and the police officers involved in the “complicity” were invited to Abuja for continuation of the investigation.

“Till date Sir, CSP Patrick Agbazue and other officers have (allegedly) refused to honor the invitation instead CSP Agbazue was boasting that he has a powerful godfather protecting him and he will never answer to that call. The pertinent questions are: 1. Who is the influential godfather that is protecting an officer indicted of a crime?, 2, Can it be his boss or a private person?, and 3, Can it be a deliberate disregard to the orders of the Inspector-General of Police?”, the petitioner wrote.

He further urged the AGF to seek explanation from IGP Baba on actions taken so far to clear the air and restore confidence of the Nigerian public about the police by ensuring that complaints are promptly investigated without bias and interference from any quarters.

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