- Police quiz attack target for 3 hours as NDLEA launches drug probe
From GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka
There appears to be no respite yet for Aloysius Ikegwuonwu, popularly called Bishop, the 36-year-old magnate and philanthropist, said to be the target of a mass murder that took place at St Phillips Catholic Church, Ozubulu, in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Nigeria’s southeast state of Anambra on Sunday, August 6, 2017. Though he had distanced himself from the incident, which claimed the life of his father and 12 others, with 18 more hospitalised, security agencies are currently going through over suspects’ statements and intelligence reports to establish his suspected links to some drug syndicates believed to be behind the deadly attack.
For the second time in a week, officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA on Friday told Saturday Sun that the agency was already getting cooperation from its foreign partners on their interest in ‘Bishop’ and his suspected links to drug trade in South Africa. Beside the anti-drug agency, the police in Anambra were said to have interrogated ‘Bishop’ for about three hours Thursday night. The controversial businessman was said to have driven into the Command headquarters in Awka around 7pm and didn’t leave till around 10pm.
Journalists who yesterday laid seige at the Anambra State Police Headquarters, Awka possibly to meet and extract interview from Ikegwuonwu were disappointed as he did not show up.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Nkiruka Nwode had earlier in the week told newsmen that the Command had invited Ikegwuonwu to come yesterday adding that refusal to honour the invitation would amount to disobedience to constituted authority.
When newsmen waited to no avail and could not also see the Commissioner of Police, Garba Umar, calls were put through to him but his response was that he was away on a security meeting in Abuja. When contacted also, the PPRO, Nwode denied knowledge of the invitation of Ikegwuonwu which she earlier confirmed.
But a source at the Command headquarters told Saturday Sun that Ikegwuonwu visited the Command Thursday night apparently because of the Police, Commissioner’s travel yesterday.
The police source said, “the ‘Bishop’ was here yesterday (Thursday) around 7pm and was here till around 10pm, in fact he left the same time with the CP. I think his coming yesterday instead of today (Friday) might be because the CP was going to travel today. He must have told the CP his own side of the story.” Attempts to reach Ikegwuonwu’s spokesman to confirm the development last night proved abortive as his number could not be reached.
But speaking to Saturday Sun on the phone yesterday, a top official of the NDLEA who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, confirmed that “we are investigating the man ‘Bishop’ and his alleged links to drug trade. We are only working in the background for now to allow the police handle the primary incident, which is murder. We are in touch and getting cooperation from our international partners on this because we need evidence to do the needful from this end. This, you will recall our chairman hinted on a radio link programme last weekend.”
The Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, at the NDLEA, Jonah Achema, had also last week given a similar assurance. “Let me assure you that we are following the story of the so-called drug deals outside the shores of Nigeria. We are already linking up with our international collaborators and respective countries to establish the veracity of their drug activities. For now, that is the level we are. We are focusing our searchlight everywhere. It is regrettable that this measure of violence is happening in this part of the world. We assure Nigerians that if it is drug related, we will not spare any effort to see to the end and we will deal decisively with anybody involved, whether high or low. It is also a call to rekindle the drug war by all stakeholders in the country.”