The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), a civic group, has asked the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to investigate the death of a Master’s Degree holder, Johnson Anyebe, who is resident of Ijadoga-Otukpa community in the Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State.
Anyebe, the educational officer at the Ogbadigbo LGA was allegedly murdered by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Emmanuel Ejeh serving in Enugu State Police Command and five others during a land dispute meeting.
RULAAC in a statement by its Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, asked the IGP to intervene because the family of the deceased met a brick wall in getting justice at the FCIID in Benue State.
The statement read, “RULAAC writes to bring to your attention and to request you to urgently order an impartial and exhaustive investigation into the alleged conspiracy and murder of one Mr. Johnson Ocheje Anyebe of Ijadoga-Otukpa in Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State on July 9 2022 by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Emmanuel Ejeh serving in the Enugu State Police Command and five others.
“Ambassador Onoja & Johnson Anyebe Jnr who witnessed the incident informed RULAAC as follows: That the deceased, Mr. Johnson Ocheje Anyebe, was allegedly murdered at the house of one Mr. Danboyi Idoko in Ijadoga-Otukpa in Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State, over a land tussle between him and some members of his community involved in the murder.
“That ASP Emmanuel Ejeh, also from Ijadoga Otukpa is said to be the Chairman of Ijadoga Community Association and it was in that capacity that he invited the deceased and persuaded him to come for the ‘phantom meeting.” He also invited the five others who turned out to be part of the murder plot namely, Joshua Ejeh Ogwuche, Sarduana Amuta, Simon Igba, Ejembi Ikwuoche and Idoko Ogbeche.
“That ASP Emmanuel Ejeh had informed the deceased that he was inviting him and others to a meeting of the Ijadoga Community Association to settle their land dispute but it turned out to be a plot to lure him and murder him.
“That as soon as they executed the plot to murder the deceased, ASP Emmanuel Ejeh immediately went back to Enugu and did not report the incident to the police or alert the police that he was involved in a meeting where somebody died.
“That all the other suspects and other people in the neighborhood also vacated their homes in fear of reprisals by members of the deceased’s family although the family members refrained from taking the law into their hands but rather reported the incident at Ublegi Police Station following which, the five suspects were arrested (excluding ASP Emmanuel Ejeh) and detained at the Police Station and released after 4 days without investigation.
“That owing to fears by the complainants that justice might elude them due to the undue influences and interference by some traditional and political authorities within the community, they petitioned and the case was transferred to the Benue State Police Headquarters, Makurdi and was referred to the Command’s Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (CIID).
“That the scenario that played out at the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of the CIID clearly showed that the office has also been influenced and compromised and will be incapable of doing justice. That the the DCP FCIID took sides and spoke in defense of the influential suspects, refused to grant the complainants the right of fair hearing but shouted them down and demanded that they provide the sum of Two hundred and fifty thousand Naira (N250,000,000) within 48 hours for the police to conduct autopsy else he would release the suspects on bail even when no investigation had been carried out by his office.
“That the DCP turned down pleas made by the complainants to be given one week to source for the money and went ahead to release the suspects who were not even detained in a police cell in the first place. That after they were released, the suspects went back to the community and started threatening the family of the deceased that they will kill them one after the other and nothing will happen boasting that after all one of them (Mr. Simon Igba) had committed murder in the past which led to his imprisonment but he is a free man today
“That the suspects particularly threatened to kill Johnson Anyebe Jnr who is the principal witness in the case and this is making him live in fear and hiding from the suspects. That the suspects are constantly taunting the family and carrying on as if nothing has happened and as if they are above the law, boasting that nothing will come out of the ‘investigation’.
“That they are particularly concerned that ASP Emmanuel Ejeh, who is one of the principal persons in the plot and the person who invited Johnson Ocheje Anyebe to the ‘phantom community meeting’ where he was murdered is yet to be invited or arrested for questioning and statement making regarding his role in the murder of Johnson Ocheje Anyebe. That they are also wondering if being a Senior Police Officer confers immunity on ASP Emmanuel Ejeh from being invited or arrested for investigation for involvement in a crime as heinous as murder.
“That the suspects had taken the deceased to court on three different occasions over the same land dispute and on the three different occasions, the courts gave judgement in favour of the deceased; there was therfore, no basis talking about settling a dispute the courts had decided upon, the last court decision having been made over a year ago.
“That the family of the deceased is law abiding and believes in the rule of law and in the IGP’s determination to uphold justice, promote discipline and punish crime and misconduct by police officers as demonstrated in recent instances where the IGP has ordered the investigation and disciplinary measures against police officers involved in misconduct and abuse of police powers.
“That it was their firm belief in seeking and getting justice through lawful approaches that made them refrain from retaliating or taking any form of revenge against those who murdered their family member even though they have the capacity to do so which made the people of Ijadoga community run from their homes after the murder.
“That their brother, Mr. Johnson Ocheje Anyebe who was murdered was a Masters Degree holder from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and an educational officer with the Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State. He is the family’s breadwinner and should not be allowed to die in vain or denied justice in death. That going by the conduct of the investigating officers at the State Headquarters, Makurdi, they do not hope to get justice, hence their decision to approach and request the IGP through this petition to intervene decisively and urgently and order a thorough and unbiased investigation without sparing anyone involved in the crime
“That unless the IGP intervenes, justice will not be served as the family is convinced that the suspects and their powerful backers will evade justice especially when the investigating officers at the Benue State Police Command have already released the murder suspects on bail just 4 days after the case was reported without any investigation and without an autopsy to ascertain the actual cause of death.
“That in summary, they request the IGP to order a transfer of the case of the suspected conspiracy and murder of Mr. Johnson Ocheje Anyebe by ASP Emmanuel Ejeh attached to Enugu State Police Command and five others for thorough and unbiased investigation by a team of professional officers with integrity at the Force Headquarters who will be diligent and unbiased and resist influence and interference by forces intent on derailing or perverting justice. That everybody including ASP Emmanuel Ejeh who has a hand in the murder of Mr. Johnson Ocheje Anyebe should be invited/arrested and investigated and accordingly charged to court for murder if evidence links them.”