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13 Feb 2018

Imo community protests missing children, blocks command headquarters

Scores of indigenes of Umuowa-Ibu, in the Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State, on Monday barricaded the entrance to the state police command headquarters in Owerri, the state capital.

While carrying placards which alleged compromise by the police, the protesters raised the alarm of continous incidents of child thefts in the community.

According to them, the situation had affected the peace and security of the community.

Delivering a petition addressed to the state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, to the Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, the President General of the community, Kenneth Alamanjo, said two children and an adult had been missing from the community recently.

He gave the names of the missing persons as a three-month-old baby, identified simply as Okorie, three-year-old Chisom Nnadi and one Ekene Odoemene, 50.

“Last year, precisely on December 14, another child was stolen in our community,” the spokesperson added.

According to the leader of the protesters, the case of the unnamed child, which they took to the police, was not handled professionally by the cops assigned to the case.

He asked the CP to transfer the case from the anti-kidnapping unit to another unit of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.

According to Alamanjo, the community learnt from a reliably source that the two suspects in the matter, Emeka Uwazuruike and John Okwudiri, who were in detention, were allegedly about to be exonerated from the case after alleged bribery.

“We want the CP to know that the police officers who are handling this child stealing case are not carrying out proper investigations into the matter. When this matter was first reported at the police station, the police officers demanded that the sum of N7,000 be paid as an entry fee.

“Our community has been thrown into panic and we sleep with our eyes open these days. We wish to state categorically that we, as a people and a community, no longer have confidence in the police team that is currently handling this matter.

“We are suspecting injustice and compromise and we therefore appeal to the CP to kindly change the team without further delay.

“A crime as the theft of children should not be treated with kid gloves. We demand justice. We want those who stole the children to face justice. We have enough evidence. Those who saw them when they stole the children are willing to testify, “ the community leader said.

Addressing journalists immediately the petition was handed over to him, the police spokesperson said the CP had instructed that the matter be pursued and justice done.

Enwerem said cases of child thefts must be treated with “every seriousness and professional diligence.”

He assured that those in detention would not be released.

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