· Demands their immediate release
· As group calls for probe
The indiscriminate and unlawful arrest, detention, killing and burning of properties of innocent and law abiding citizens in Imo state which has been on the front burner of public discourse for some time now, has taken a different dimension that may create credibility problems for the police and pull the rug off most of their claims as Champion Brewery has identified six of the 26 suspects arrested by the police and tagged ESN/IPOB members at Baymond Hotel, Okporo before setting the hotel ablaze, as drivers and conductors who went to Orlu on official assignment.
A source who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity, stated that, contrary to what the Imo state police command claimed in a release dated August 2, 2021, with the caption, “arrest of IPOB/ESN members that attacked Omuma and Njaba police stations”, most of those arrested and dumped at the cell of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Imo state police command headquarters were not actually hoodlums.
“For instance, Emma Uchekukwu, Ugochukwu Samuel and Chike Ifeanyi are truck drivers attached to Champion Breweries, Calabar from where they supply drinks to various depots across the country.
It was also gathered that about 19 persons who the police picked up randomly along the streets on same day in connection with the hotel incident had long been released after allegedly parting with huge sums of money. But Champion Brewery and their agents that had reported the three drivers and their conductors as missing did not know the exact police units where they were detained, until recently, when information and filtered out.
In a swift move to negate and pull the rug off the feet of the police and their claims, they provided documents, including duly signed and stamped waybills dated July 6, 2021 bearing the names of the affected drivers and their conductors, comfirming that they were in the state to supply drinks to a depot at Okporo, Orlu owned by Mr Chinonso Uba and not members of the Eastern Security Network/IPOB as alleged by the police in their press release.
Information available to our news desk indicate that the suspects had been arraigned before an Owerri Magistrate Court and remanded in prison custody as the case was adjourned to September 16,2021.
It would be recalled that, the Imo State Police Command had in a release signed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP, Mike Abattam, dated August2, 2021 stated, that, “Sequel to the recent attack on Omuma Police station and Njaba Police Station respectively, where the bandits were swiftly repelled by the ever alert tactical teams of Imo State Police Command and the unfortunate loss of a Divisional Police Officer and the arrest of one of the bandits, Emmanuel Nnaji ‘M’ age 15 years, a native of Awala in Ideato South LGA of Imo State, with bullet wounds and brought to the station.
On interrogation by the command’s tactical teams, the suspect gave a vivid description of a Hotel located in Orlu as where they, the bandits stayed, planned, before they executed their dastardly act on the police stations. He further stated that, the owner of the Hotel has been accommodating and assisting them financially. He then volunteered and led security forces to the location of the hotel. On arrival, the hotel and house were cordoned and searched the following exhibits were recovered from the arrested twenty six suspects including seven females in the hotel they incudes;
(1) ONE AK47 RIFFLE WITH TWO MAGAZINE LOADED WITH 55 ROUNDS OF LIVE AMMUNITION.
(2) FIVE PUMP ACTION GUNS
(3) TWO DOUBLE BARREL CUT TO SIZE GUNS
(4) FOUR DOUBLE BARREL LOCALLY MADE PISTOL
(5) THREE SINGLE BARREL LOCALLY MADE PISTOLS
(6) EIGHT SIX LIVE CARTRIDGES
(8) TWO BAGS OF WEEDS SUSPECTED TO BE INDIAN HEMP
(9) BIAFRAN FLAG AND BERET
(10) ESN CAP
(11) FOUR PAIRS OF ARMY CAMOUFLAGE UNIFORMS AND A CAMOUFLAGE BAG
(12) A SIGN BOARD WITH BIAFRA INSIGNIA”.
However contradicting what the police said about the burning of Chinonso Uba’s Hotel, his house and that of his father Damian Uba among numerous others in the vicinity, his younger brother, Mr Chidiebere Uba and other relatives accused the police of being economical with the truth.