Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 9, Umuahia, Abia State, AIG Ene Okon, has been alleged to detained Sergeant Ugochukwu Ukaegbu, and members of his team, over arresting relations’ tricycle used for robbing.
Sgt. Ukaegbu and his members, 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.
According to the information made available to the moment, Ukaegbu 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.
The woman who is said to be a relation to the AIG, petitioned, alleging that the team demanded money from her to release her Keke.
It was based on her allegation that the AIG ordered the detention of Sgt. Ukaegbu and his team members and have kept them in detention till date- into the second week.
According to a petition by Rule of Law and Accountability, Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) to Inspector General of Police (IGP), titled; “Abuse of police powers; arrogant and oppressive exercise of police authority by AIG Okon, against a police Sergeant, Ukaegbu”, have called on the IGP to direct the senior police officer to immediately release the sergeant and his team from unlawful detention.
Executive Director, RULAAC, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, noted that, upon receiving the detention complaint, he made several attempted to reach AIG Okon on phone, to verify the information and to urge him to respect the Officers’ due process rights and to treat them in accordance with the laws and established Police disciplinary procedures.
Nwanguma said that the senior officer did not respond and he then sent him a text requesting him to respect the rights of the officers to due process, to which he did not reply.
“This morning, more than one week later, the senior police officer called again to remind us that it has entered the second week since Ukaegbu and his teammates 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 are 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.
“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,” he explained.
Nwanguma further explained they are not aware of any Police Act and Regulations or any subsidiary legislation governing police discipline that 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,” he stressed.