The Nigeria Police have dismissed a police sergeant, Johnbosco Okoroeze, for allegedly aiding the escape of a suspected ritual killer, Ifeanyi Dike, from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Zaki, had reportedly ordered the dismissal and arraignment of Okoroeze for criminal conspiracy.
Mr. Okoroeze was consequently arraigned by the police on Thursday before a chief magistrate’s court in Port Harcourt on two counts bordering on obstruction of justice and conspiracy and has been remanded in custody.
The Chief Magistrate, Sokari Andrew-Jaja, had cause to caution the dismissed sergeant as he cried uncontrollably in the court room even before his case was mentioned.
The main suspect, Dike, had allegedly defiled, killed and removed the organs of one Miss Victory Nmezuwuba, before he was arrested and taken into police custody at SCIID.
Okoroeze, who was the Investigating Police Officer, had removed the suspect’s handcuffs while he took his statements.
The victim’s father, Dr Ernest Nmezuwuba, who was also in the charge room at the time, had said he used candlelight while making his statements, adding that there was no power supply in the area.
Dike was said to have fled the SCIID under the cover of darkness and vanished.
Okoroeze, who was brought to the magistrate’s court in handcuffs, cried uncontrollably in court.
“What have I done to myself? What did I do? Call my wife for me,” he said.
The charges read, “That you, Johnbosco Okoroeze, on August 19, 2017, at about 8.30pm at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Port Harcourt, in the Port Harcourt Magisterial District, did assist one Ifeanyi Dike, who is to your knowledge guilty of the offence of murder of one Chikamso Nmezuwuba, aged eight years, for rituals, to escape when he was to be detained for prosecution, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 322 of the Criminal Code Cap 37, Vol. II, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
“That you, Johnbosco Okoroeze, on the same date, time and place in the aforesaid magisterial district, did conspire with a suspect, Ifeanyi Dike, and allowed him to escape from prosecution to prevent and defeat the course of justice, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 126 (1) of the Criminal Code Cap 37, Vol. II, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”
The chief magistrate observed that while the first charge could earn Okoroeze a life sentence if found guilty, the second charge could earn the dismissed police sergeant a seven-year jail term if found guilty.
However, he immediately declined jurisdiction to handle the matter and directed the court registrar to transfer the case file to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for legal advice.
Mr. Andrew-Jaja then ordered the suspect to be remanded in prison and adjourned the matter till September 14, 2017 for adoption of written addresses.
Speaking on the matter, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, said one of the sponsors of the prime suspect, Dike, had been arrested.
Omoni hinted that there was ample evidence to support the view that the suspected sponsor might have a hand in the killing of little Chikamso.
“Yes, we have arrested one of the sponsors, but we will not disclose his name now so that it will not jeopardise investigation.
“Efforts have been intensified to re-arrest the fleeing suspected ritual killer and we are assuring members of the public that we will get him,” Omoni said.