Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosun, has denied declaring a police officer, Monday Ehigie, killed last week in Benin City, a cultist.
He stated this while parading 83 suspects arrested for various crimes ranging from cultism, murder, fraud and armed robbery in Benin.
The denial is coming after the father of the deceased, Mr. Imafidon Ehigie, had given the commissioner of police a 72-hour ultimatum to retract his comment or face a legal suit.
Mr. Imafidon alleged that the commissioner of police was only trying to avoid paying his late son his entitlement and so decided to tag him a cultist.
Recall that the commissioner of police was quoted to have said that the slain police officer was killed by a rival cult group on Sunday at Nomayo, Upper Sokponba axis in Benin City.
But Odumosu, while recanting saying so, explained that if the officer was to be a cultist, it was not the duty of the police to declare that but the court, adding that investigation was still ongoing to ascertain if he was a cultist or not.
“There has been trending things that the CP declared him a cultist and that I have met the parents; it should be cleared that on that day, I personally went to the scene, met the people on the ground; you know when something happens, issues will be coming out.
“So he was alleged to be a cultist and I only told them that if he is to be cultist, investigation has just started.
“It is at the end of the investigation that he will be declared a cultist and it is not even the duty of the police to declare so.
“At the police station level, he is still a suspect until evidences are adduced, and he is taken to court and a court of competent jurisdiction will declare and no police officer has the right in law; a suspect is an accused person.
“At police level, anybody under investigation is a suspect and once he is charged to court, he becomes an accused. After the trial, the person can be declared either as a murderer or a cultist.
“So I cannot imagine that the commissioner of police declared him a cultist, far away from that,” he said.
He also said it was not true that the police have tagged him cultist to deny him of his entitlement, pointing out that the police would be responsible for his burial and that all his entitlement due him would be paid to him as he died in active service.