- It’s unfortunate, let’s wait for autopsy –Police
- Justice must prevail –Wife
Mr. Inya Israel Aluu waded into the crisis his son and playmates had with security officials and Assemblies of God Church at No. 2 Nri Street, Abakaliki, but he was consumed by the crisis as he died in police custody. The deceased hailed from Mgbom, Afikpo in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State but was living in Abakaliki where the incident occurred. His son, Inya Ebenezer, younger brother and some of their friends were playing football at Nri Street when the ball fell into the premises of Assemblies of God Church in the street.
They went to the church to retrieve the ball but security men did not release it to them. The refusal to release the ball to the youths sparked altercation. The church then contacted a police woman who came to arrest the boys. The policewoman was said to be on maternity leave.
The boys protested their arrest and demanded explanation on why they should be arrested. But no explanation was given to them and the crisis deepened as there was physical combat between the boys, the security officials, some members of the Assemblies of God Church and the policewoman. Mr. Aluu, a retired civil servant who was alerted about the trouble, quickly rushed to the church. He insisted that the matter be taken to the police for amicable resolution.
His son, Ebenezer and younger brother were arrested alongside himself and taken to Kpirikpiri Police station after receiving some beatings over the matter At the police station, Ebenezer was put behind the counter while his father was taken to the reception room of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) by the policewoman and some policemen in the station pending when he would be taken to the DPO over the matter. But the man slumped and died in the room. He was said to be foaming in the mouth (vomiting) when Ebenezer was released and asked to go and carry his father’s body.
Narrating the incident to Saturday Telegraph with his colleagues, Ebenezer said: “I and some colleagues were playing football when the ball flew into Assemblies of God premises. We met the gateman and pleaded with him to release the ball to us but he refused and started insulting us, we then engaged him in quarrel.
The pastor’s daughter came and asked us what was happening and we told her that our ball fell into their premises and that she should help us to retrieve it. “She told us to go let her talk to the man so that he could release the ball and then she would call us later to collect the ball. After some time, we returned to the church and asked the gateman to release the ball to us but he started exchanging words with us again. The senior pastor came then came out and started insulting us.
I exchanged words with him. The pastor’s children and some church members started attacking us. They later asked us to go to our house so that the altercation would be resolved. We went back to our house. “I was about taking my bath to go to our shop at Police Officers Wives Association (POWA) at the police headquarters when two security men from Royal Ranger Security firm came to me and said I should go with them to apologise to the pastor so that peace would reign. I refused but they threatened to call the military if I refused to resolve the matter this way.
“I followed them to the church. A member of the church who is a policewoman and who is on maternity leave and was wearing mufti came to handcuff us and we asked the offence we committed. She refused to give us the reasons and locked the gate. They started beating us inside the church. My dad who was in our house heard and came to the church.
He said they should stop beating us again and that we should all go to the police to iron things out. “They insisted that they were not going to the police but must do everything inside the church. When they saw that the pressure was high, the policewoman took us out of the gate and started beating us. “We got to the station with my dad and they put us (I and my brother) in the counter and started beating me.
Then they told my dad to follow them to a room. My dad followed them together with the Assemblies of God people. The next thing I saw was that they came and released us and asked us to come and carry our father’s body. “They took my dad to the DPO reception room.
I did not follow them to that room because they did not allow me. I took my father’s body in a tricycle with my brother to the hospital and doctors confirmed that he was dead.” Ebenezer, 18, who is in 200 level and studying Criminology and Security Studies at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), insisted that his father was hale and hearty and was not ill and wondered what could lead to his sudden demise. He called for probe into the death of his father, describing him as a peace-loving man. He said his father’s sudden death would affect his education as according to him, he was everything to the family. “My father was 100 percent okay, hale and hearty. He was not sick before. While I was taking him to the hospital, he was foaming from the mouth on my body. The foaming stained my clothes. Before we left the church to the KpiriKpiri Police Station, that policewoman slapped him and beat him up.
“My father was a gentleman who hated trouble. He was a peacemaker and that was why he said we should go to the police to resolve the crisis. He always made sure he came out of anything that involved trouble; he was the quiet type. He was a retired civil servant and was very caring. My father was everything to be called a father. I demand justice over sudden death of my father. My father’s death will affect me in so many ways because he was the only one who paid my school fees. I don’t know what to do,” Ebenezer said.
His mother, Inya Aluu Ngozi, said: “I am living at No 2 Nri Street, Abakaliki. I was in my shop when a son of my neighbour came and told me that ‘daddy is dying’ and I asked him what happened? He said I should rush to FETHA 2. I immediately left everything I was doing and rushed to FETHA 2.
“Immediately I got there, I saw my husband lying down inside a tricycle. I called my son Ebenezer who was there in the tricycle and asked him what happened and he told me that they were playing football in our street and their ball fell into Assemblies of God compound at No4 at Nri Street. They went there to collect the ball but the private security firm’s officials in the church refused. The security men are from Royal Rangers.
“In the process, they started fighting. Neighbours waded into the matter and told my son to leave that area and all of them left. Later, the Royal Rangers came to our house and asked my children and those that were playing ball with them to go with them to the Church so as to make. My son and one boy then followed them to their church.
“When my husband heard he went to the police station. They later called my husband into the DPO office; they kept my son and another person they arrested in a different place without allowing them to go to the DPO’s office with my husband. “What they did later was to tell my son to carry his father who had already died inside the DPO’s office.
My son took my husband’s body with tricycle to the hospital. Immediately I got to FETHA 2 where he took the body to, I saw my husband lying motionless. He was foaming. Doctor came out and checked him and confirmed that my husband was dead. “It was my husband’s brother that the DPO called and explained what transpired to him.
That policewoman who came with handcuff beat my husband and I am not happy the way he died. I am calling for justice over the death of my husband. I want government and relevant agencies to intervene in the sudden death of my husband. I don’t know where to begin; I don’t know where to start because my husband was everything to me. I am a mother of seven and the burden will be too much for me now that he is no more.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Loveth Odah confirmed the incident. Odah said: “On 29th of August 2018, the DPO of Kpirikpiri division, said that there was a call from the Assemblies of God Church at Nri Street, Kpirikpiri that children were playing football and they played into the church premises. “So the security officer whose name I do not know seized the ball because he said that it was a regular thing which he said disturbed the occupants during the church hour.
“So, on this particular day unfortunately the ball entered there and the security men seized it. According to them, the boys started throwing stones on top of the zinc of the church. Along the line, the security ma decided to open the door to see who was doing it. “He saw the two boys who were doing it. He accosted them and took them into the premises and now called the policewoman who had handled their matter before.
“The policewoman was actually on maternity leave. She was passing through the church to go and fill her gas cylinder. According to her, she parked her bike and entered to see what was happening. “The security man opened the door for her and the access paved way for their father to enter with her into the church premises. They were all saying that ‘it was children’s play; let’s allow it to go like that.’
That’s according to the policewoman. “But the father of the children insisted that since the security man had taken the children inside, by so doing illegally detaining them, police must be made aware of it. The policewoman assisted them to the police station and went her own way because she was not on official duty.
“The DPO Kpirikpiri said that he was handling a matter involving other parties with a DSS officer in his office, when he was alerted to the incident and was called to listen to them. “He said that as soon as he came out, he saw somebody telling the man that his breathing was too high; ‘what’s happening to you?’ Before they could rush to attend to the man, he slumped.
The children now stopped a Keke NAPEP and wanted to go to FETHA 2 but the children insisted that they would go to FETHA 1; that that is where the man had a card. On their way to FETHA 1, the man dropped dead. He was confirmed dead by a certified doctor. Nobody touched the man.
“Please can we wait for the autopsy to be out and let’s see if the man died of beatings by anybody or any other thing: the illness which he had earlier before this incident? That was the report yesterday. But it’s an unfortunate incident. However, the Senior Pastor of the Assemblies of God Church Nri Street, Abakaliki Rev. Joseph Nwakpakpa, refused to comment on the matter when contacted by our correspondent.
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