From Chris Anucha, Port Harcourt
Suspected ritualist, Maxwell, who allegedly killed eight-years-old Victory Chikamso and removed vital organs from her body, has escaped from police custody in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
It was gathered that some angry mothers, and children are already warming up for mass protest, to expressed their outrage over the suspect’s escape.
Also, some human rights groups/activists in the state yesterday gave the police seven days to re-arrest the fleeing suspect.
The suspect was arrested last Friday by a vigilance group as he tried to dump the mutilated body of the victim, stuffed in a sack, at a refuse dump site.
He was later handed over to policemen at Okporo Police Station, who in turn handed him over to policemen at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for investigation and prosecution.
Daily Sun gathered that the suspect escaped from the SCIID after the investigating police office, simply identified as Johnbosco, obtained a statement from him and the father of the deceased.
The suspect escape under the nose of other policemen, including some guntoting officers, who were said to have mounted security in and around the SCIID.
Reports said Johnbosco was taking Maxwell back to the cell before he took to his heels.
Father of the victim, Mr. Ernest Ezewuba, and other relatives were still at the premises of the Rivers State Police Command, when the suspect, a 200-level student of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) escaped. Ezewuba said after he and the suspect concluded writing their statements, using candlelight (there was no power from the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company), a senior police officer, ordered that the suspect should be taken back to the cell.
It was at that point that Maxwell took flight.
“What I heard from Johnbosco was, ‘Hollam! Hollam! He’s running! Help! The boy jumped the fence, they said he jumped the fence,’ Ezewuba said.
Accusing the police of complicity in the escape, Ezewuba recalled how the IPO removed the hand-cuffs from the suspect to enable him write his statement, but failed to hand-cuff him afterwards. He also claimed that the police asked him to bring money to buy candle and sachet water for the suspect, when he demanded to drink water: “I asked Johnbosco, how do you want me to buy pure water for someone that killed my daughter?”
Reacting, a civil society group, United Action for Democracy, has given the police seven days to re-arrest the suspect. The group wondered how the suspect could escape 24 hours after he was paraded by the police. Members of the group have threatened to occupy the police headquarters on Moscow Road, if they fail to re-arrest the suspect.
Meanwhile, the angry, surprised and embarrassed Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, has ordered that Inspector Johnbosco should be detained. Reacting to the incident, he said the command had begun a manhunt for the suspect. He also appealed to members of the public to give the police useful information that could lead to the re-arrest of Maxwell.
He, however, urged members of the public to have confidence in the Nigeria Police, adding that no stone would be left unturned in ensuring the suspect’s re-arrest and subsequent prosecution.