The Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Danjuma Ochejeh has denied leading other police officers to attack the Odekpe Community of Anambra West Local Government which led to the death of Mr Aboy Uduaka Okewo of the same community.
CSP Ochejeh who appeared before the 11-man panel of the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations by the defunct Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) on Wednesday said he never attacked nor lead anybody to attack the Odekpe community on April 24, 2020, as alleged by the petitioner.
CSP Ocheje was petitioned before the panel alongside personnel of IGP Intelligence Response Team Abuja over arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful use of firearm and abuse of office leading to the death of one Mr Aboy Uduaka Okewu of Odekpe Community.
However, led in his evidence-in-chief by counsel to the Nigerian police, Joseph Nwadike, the petitioner informed the panel that he did not know anything about the allegation of leading any attack on Odekpe community in Anambra state, saying that he only convened a peace meeting at Mongo Park Hotel in Delta state where only elites from the two communities attended.
He told the panel that in a bid to ensure peace in Odekpe and Ala communities, he made a personal sacrifice by paying the transport fare of those who could not afford the charge and preached peace among them when the meeting commenced.
He conceded before the panel that while Odekpe and Ala communities are in Anambra state, he serves the Nigerian police in Delta state.
He explained that he is a member of the Ala community who was having a land dispute with the Odekpe community, but insisted that he does not know Mr. Aboy let alone knowing the circumstances that reportedly led to his death.
According to the respondent, he was not aware of a reconciliatory meeting said to have been convened by the two contending communities at Ugbolu community in Delta state.
During cross-examination by the petitioners’ counsel, E.C. Egwuatu, the respondent stated that he did not know anything about the alleged ambush of two of the petitioners, Chief Peter Ikechi and Peter Ekwealor (deceased) who are part of the complainants before the panel.
He also told the panel that he did not at any time issue orders or threats to anybody at the meeting he convened at Mongo Park Hotel in Delta.
It will be recalled that one of the police counsel, Godwin Ijeoma had stated that the police may not represent CSP Ochejeh if it is established that he acted outside his official capacity in the alleged arrest and harassment of members of the Odekpe Community in Anambra West LGA of Anambra state.
A witness before the panel and member of Odekpe Community, Mr Henry Ugwujede had also told the panel that Ocheje led a team of Policemen to the Community who shot sporadically in the area leading to the death of Mr Aboy Uduaka Okewu of Odekpe Community.
In his testimony before the panel, Mr Ugwujede told the panel that Chief Peter Ikechi and Peter Ekwealor (now deceased) represented the Odekpe Community in a peace committee set up by the Anambra state government to make peace over a disputed land allegedly owned by Ochepke Community and contested by Alla/Onugwa Village where CSP Danjuma Ochejeh hails from.
He said on Thursday, June 11, 2020 the complainants representing Odepkpe Community were returning from the reconciliatory meeting brokered by the Anambra state government when CSP Ochejeh used Police officers of IGP-IRT and arrested the complainants and one Mr Ekene Okona at his place of apprenticeship at Asaba Woods Market and they were tortured in detention.
The matter was adjourned to 3rd of May, 2021 for the continuation of defence.