On the twenty eighth of March 2018, Namdi Ineke’s youthful brother, Kelechi, came around him. It was round 7 a.m, and Nnamdi was busy sweeping his compound. Kelechi instructed him handy over the broom as he wished to help Nnamdi.
While Kelechi was sweeping the compound, Inspector Ekwe Umet, then connected to Abaomege Police Division within the Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, got here into the compound.
The Inspector arrived within the firm of his son, Ufem Umet. The Inspector had lived in Abaomege for a really very long time, so Nnamdi knew him very nicely.
Why had he come to his home so early within the morning? Nnamdi questioned. He claimed Kelechi had had a combat along with his son after a bit of quarrel. Nnamdi rapidly known as Kelechi to answer the Inspector’s declare.
Kelechi admitted to combating the Inspector’s son, and apologized for not telling Nnamdi. He stated he had been sitting in entrance of St Patrick Catholic Church, Abaomege, round 7.30 pm the earlier night time when Ufem Umet pointed a torch mild straight to his face.
Kelechi stated he complained, however Ufem insulted him as an alternative of apologizing. Kelechi stated he turned irritated and went after Ufem, making an attempt to grab his slippers. The ensuing wrestle bought Ufem’s slippers broken.
Ufem, narrating his aspect of the story, stated Kelechi had struck him with a stone on his leg. But he wasn’t harm, he admitted.
Everyone current began attempting to determine methods to settle the matter amicably. Nnamdi reassured the Inspector that no matter bills he incurred in treating his son, he would handle it. The police officer agreed and later left along with his son.
Shortly afterwards, two bikes rode into the compound at high velocity. An officer jumped down from one of many bikes and pointed at Kelechi, saying the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) had requested them to convey him to their station.
Upon enquiring about Kelechi’s crime, the officers stated that he had “assaulted a police officer’s son”. Since the Inspector and his son had simply left Nnamdi’s compound and never gone far, he rushed to meet up with them, and when he did, he begged the Inspector to return and inform the officers that they’d settled the difficulty.
Strangely, the Inspector stayed silent. Nnamdi thus needed to permit Kelechi to depart with the officers.
Nnamdi rapidly knowledgeable his household about Kelechi’s arrest and warranted everybody that when he returned from a visit to Abakaliki, the state capital, he would go to the station to safe his bail.
Immediately after he got here again from Abakaliki, he went to the police station. It was round 5 p.m of the identical day. At the station, he instructed the officer on the counter that he had come to see his youthful brother. The police officer he met stated the DPO had issued an instruction that none of Kelechi’s members of the family ought to be allowed to see nor give him meals.
The subsequent day (thirtieth March 2018), Nnamdi notified Joshua Chinasa Umoke, the Town Union President, concerning the scenario. Nnamdi instructed Chinasa that the DPO of Abaomege Police Station, Benard Ikechukwu, had detained his youthful brother. Right earlier than him, Umoke phoned the DPO and instructed him to pardon Kelechi and grant him bail, however the DPO refused and stated he would solely launch him when it happy him.
That day handed. Then at night time, Nnamdi met with Chinedu Onwe, a administration Committee member within the Ukaba Development Centre. Onwe was a really shut good friend of the DPO. Nnamdi instructed Chindeu what he had performed to safe the discharge of his brother from detention. Onwe then later met the DPO and pleaded on his behalf, however the DPO nonetheless wouldn’t pay attention.
Nnamdi later gathered all three wives of their father to accompany them to plead with Inspector Umet to intervene. Early morning on thirty first March, 2018, they went to the Inspector’s house. Nnamdi personally lay down on the bottom whereas his mom and stepmothers knelt down and begged.
The Inspector instructed them that he had no downside with Kelechi, and reiterated the truth that himself and Nnamdi had certainly settled the matter the day he visited Nnamdi’s compound.
He stated he didn’t know why the DPO was nonetheless holding Kelechi. Nnamdi begged him to comply with them to the police station the subsequent day so he might inform the DPO they’d settled the difficulty even earlier than the DPO had despatched officers to return and decide Kelechi.
On the first of April 2018, a Sunday morning, Nnamdi went to the police quarters within the firm of his two youthful brothers, Nwabueze and Nnaemeka Ineke, to see the DPO. As the DPO opened the door, Nnamdi prostrated on the bottom, whereas his two brothers knelt down earlier than him, as they pleaded with him to launch Kelechi.
The DPO instructed them that until they introduced Maxwell, their youthful brother, he wouldn’t launch Kelechi. After their persistent pleas, he requested Nnamdi to return to the police station by 2 p.m.
Something attention-grabbing to notice: whereas they have been getting into the police station later that afternoon (round 2 pm), Nnamdi heard the voice of a boy he knew, named Izu, a mechanic, who was additionally being detained in one of many cells.
“Brother, are you here because of Kelechi?” Izu requested Nnamdi.
Izu stated that the earlier night time, it appeared to him that Kelechi had been battling any individual inside his cell as officers tried to maneuver him to a personal cell. The inmates, Izu recounted, known as on the police on the counter to ask concerning the seeming scuffle, however not one of the officers opened up about it. Izu added that from that point, via the entire night time till morning, they stored calling Kelechi’s identify with out listening to a response.
Nnamdi nonetheless ignored Izu’s narration and targeted on speaking to a policeman on the counter, whom Nnamdi was briefing about his mission to return and see the DPO.
While he was nonetheless speaking with this policeman on the counter, the DPO got here out from his workplace and unexpectedly superior in the direction of the path of the cell. “Open the cell!” he ordered. “Open the cell!”
The officer rapidly rushed for a key and opened the cell, which was the place Nnamdi’s brother had been detained.
The DPO went contained in the cell and ran out virtually instantly. I used to be alarmed. “DPO what’s the problem?” Nnamdi asked. “DPO what’s the problem?!”
The DPO however ignored him and got into his vehicle, driving off. Meanwhile, some officers at the counter followed suit: they took to their heels through the back door of the police station.
Nnamdi was totally confused, so he went inside the cell and finally saw it: the traumatic sight of his brother Kelechi hanging with a rope around his neck. There were tears running down his cheeks. He was gone. He was just 22-years-old.
Nnamdi learnt that the police later came and took Kelechi’s corpse away to the mortuary the next day.
On the 4th of April 2018, Kelechi’s family wrote petitions to the Ebonyi state governor, the state house of assembly, the chairman of the council of traditional rulers in the state and the commissioner of police.
On the 9th of April 2018, the family was invited to the Police Headquarters in Abakaliki. They went with the town union president and other delegates from the community, as well as some of the family members. After they narrated everything to the deputy commissioner of police, she promised that there would be a proper investigation.
Till date, there hasn’t been much of a response, either from the state or from the police.
As at the time of this publication, nothing has been done in terms of justice – not an investigation, not a compensation. In fact, Kelechi’s corpse is still in the mortuary.
On the 20th of April 2018, the police asked Kelechi’s family to come for an autopsy. They borrowed 300,000 naira for the autopsy to be conducted at the Ebonyi State Teaching Hospital, which is now the Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital. The autopsy was conducted on the 28th April, 2018. It was the police that recommended the specialist, one Dr Bath Ngwu.
Dr Ngwu reported that Kelechi had died as a result of injuries inflicted on his ribs and other parts of his body. The autopsy revealed that Kelechi was tortured while in custody. It was discovered that one of his legs was burnt, some of his limbs were broken, and traces of blood could be found within the region where he was tortured.
Till date, the family does not have a copy of that autopsy report, although the police and Dr. Ngwu have it.
Kelechi’s family have made several efforts for the police to release the corpse so they can bury him.
On the 4th of April, 2018, the family lawyer D.I. Njoku, wrote to the Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi state. The police said they had a new commissioner, and that the case file was still on his table. That commissioner would have to settle in before having a look at the file, they were told.
Since then, till now, absolutely nothing has been done.
Kelechi was the breadwinner of his young family. His wife was pregnant when he was killed. She now has a son who is two-years-old. His mother, who is Nnamdi’s stepmother, is aged as well.
His death caused a lot of trauma in the family. Their father, who was already suffering from serious high blood pressure, got worse and had to be rushed to the hospital when he heard Kelechi had died in custody.
Kelechi was a jovial young man who was loved by members of his family and the entire Abaomege community in general. He was easy-going and hardly troublesome.
He was very hardworking too. He always hustled diligently to put food on the table. Nnamdi remembers his late brother as someone who always tried to take tasks off his hands too, as was seen on the morning of his arrest.
“Kelechi demands justice. His wife demands justice. His son demands justice. Our entire family demands justice,” Nnamdi says.
He continues asking, “You know what it means to brutally kill a young man? The spirit has been tormenting members of this family. That young man needs to be buried. The police and the government should release the corpse of Kelechi to the family. At least let him rest in peace.”
“We also demand that the police, those officers at fault, starting right from the DPO, explain what actually happened to Kelechi. The officers that perpetrated the act should be brought to book. Only then can the family be fine,” Nnamdi says.