All roads lead to Epelema, Bonny Local Government Area, Rivers State, today, as the remains of the late Police Area Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Oliver Innoma Abbey, one of the two senior police officers killed in a fracas under a controversial circumstance in Oraifite, Anambra State, is laid to rest. Time is about 9am. He was killed alongside Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Joseph Akubo, attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The alleged IPOB angle to the killing
The duo were said to have been murdered by members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), although, the organization has strongly denied the allegation. The incident reportedly took place at the house of the group’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor at Ifite, Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area on December 2, 2019. It was also alleged that during the fracas, the police killed two members of the IPOB and wounded many.
While some people are blaming the police for the incident, others are accusing members of IPOB of taking the law into their hands, saying the police have the legal right to invite or arrest any person suspected of criminal activities or whoever they have any complaint against.
The spokesman of the Anambra State Police Command, Haruna Mohammed, told journalists that there was a formal complaint bordering on an alleged case of abduction, assault and malicious damage to property lodged against Ejiofor, a lawyer and supposed member of IPOB in Oraifite. Following the report, police patrol teams, led by Abbey, mobilised to the scene to arrest the suspect, after he reportedly declined police invitation. It was said that as soon as policemen arrived at the house, armed men suspected to be IPOB members descended on them, setting one patrol vehicle ablaze and attacking them with guns and machetes and killing two officers in the process.
For Abbey who would be buried today in his hometown, his final journey home started on Thursday, December 26, 2019, at 4pm with a service of song held at Ambassador of Chirst Assembly, opposite Borikiri Police Station, Port Harcourt.
Wife of slain police officer calls for justice
About a week ago, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, took over the investigation into the matter with a view to unraveling the masterminds of the killing and their motives. But as colleagues, friends and well-wishers prepare to commit, today, to mother earth, the remains of ACP Abbey, his wife, Rita Abbey, herself also a police officer, has called for a thorough investigation into the murder of her husband with a view to bringing the culprits to book.
Rita, former Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) made the call while releasing the burial programme for her husband who she said was until the time of his untimely death a king-designate. The woman police-lawyer who is currently serving in the Bayelsa State Command broke down in tears while speaking exclusively with Saturday Sun. While thanking the Inspector General of Police for taking over the case and expressing her hope for a painstaking investigation, she called on police authorities to ensure that justice is done.
“I want justice,” she said. “How can someone serving his fatherland be cruelly murdered?” Throwing her hands into the air, she said she has left everything in the hands of God. “I have taken solace in God,” she said. “What can I do? I have handed the killers of my husband to God. He was scheduled to be installed king in Bonny, Rivers State, by his kinsmen next year.”
Oraifite Improvement Union has also weighed in, lauding the reported takeover of the investigtion by the IGP. Leaders of Oraifite Improvement Union, led by its President General, Sir Sunday Igboanuzue, commended the initiative, while joining Rita to call for a thorough investigation into the murder of the two officers, adding that it is a serious matter that deserves the most painstaking police scrutiny. The group noted that the crisis which engulfed the community was caused by a clash among rival cults groups.
Igboanuzue, however, noted that the union is not in a hurry to exonerate IPOB members for the killing of the officers, to avoid pre-empting police investigation. The union, he avowed, is willing to subject the community to a thorough investigation.
Talking about the supposed involvement of cult groups, he said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the background and actions that led to the gruesome murder of two senior police officers resulted from a felonious rivalry and disputes between two cult groups, Otu Eke and Otu.
“Otu Eke is a cult masquerade group that is as old as the existence of Oraifite. Unfortunately, in recent times, attempts by certain unscrupulous individuals to selfishly hijack the organisation compelled some of its members to resign and establish rival groups called Otu Afor and Otu Nkwo.
“The leadership of Oraifite commends the Inspector General of Police for recognising the seriousness of these crimes and ordering the transfer of the case to Force Headquarters.
“We are ready as a community to present ourselves for thorough investigation and we are here to pledge our support to the police in their investigation,” he said. Asked about the alleged involvement of Sir Emeka Offor as well as IPOB members in the crisis, Igboanuzue stated that he was not willing to begin to drop names of people as such would pre-empt police investigation, or be perceived as taking sides.