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•Victim’s husband accuses DPO of bias, heads to court
•Only a madman will believe his tale – Police boss
From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Efforts by Mrs. Irene Kalu, a 38-year-old trader at Bright Street, Onitsha Main Market, Anambra State, to get justice over an alleged assault meted out to her by a task force member, working in the market has landed her into deeper trouble.
Irene and her husband, a pastor, alleged that their lives are presently in danger, owing to threats they have received for inviting the police instead of settling the matter in the market union.
Daily Sun gathered that in this market, it is considered a taboo to invite the police to settle any matter without first clearing the issue with the market executives.
Some traders in the market are also insisting that this unwritten law has to be revoked, owing to the excesses and intimidation from the constituted task force working in the market. According to the traders, the task force members behave recklessly.
Kalu, who holds a Master of Arts Degree in English Language but deals in Vietnam Wears at Bright Street has decided to challenge the status quo because of what happened to her on August 12, 2017.
Speaking to Daily Sun, she said she nearly lost her left eye from the killer punch given to her by a task force member popularly known as Shola.
“The intimidation here is too much. The task force man had entered my shop a day earlier and accused me of displaying my clothing far above the stipulated space inside my shop. This is a half shop for which we paid N1million collateral and also pay N30, 000 monthly to the landlord. My landlord that shares the shop with me sells footwear, a different item altogether.
“The task force man collected my wares that day and I had to pay N3500 before they could release the items to me. He came again this day and I told him that enough was enough. When they storm your shop, you dare not question them as one is commanded to raise his/her arms up in surrender while they operated.
“When I resisted and insisted that he would not take my goods again, he flared up and told me that I had not seen anything in life. He asked me to look at the scars in his body and then evaluate whether I could withstand such situations. But I stood my ground and that was when he pushed me before landing me the killer punch in my eye. I screamed for help and he continued to beat me until my husband ran from another shop to save me,” she recalled.
Irene said although the husband was enraged over the humiliation meted out to her, they both decided to seek a civilised way of addressing the matter instead of physically fighting back. She said they ran to the Onitsha Central Police Station where they got a great shocker. He said the police there could not do their job.
Taking the story from here, the husband, Pastor Chukwuemeka Kanu, said for a man angry that his wife was beaten up by another man, it was shocking that he could be thoroughly humiliated by the police boss at Onitsha, Ikechukwu Egbochukwu, a chief superintendent of police (CSP).
“When we made the initial entry, policemen were detailed to follow us to the scene of the incident. But when they entered the market, the policemen were prevented from making any arrest until they had discussed with the outgoing chairman, Mr. Chukwudum Fitex. When we got to Chukwudum’s office, he flared up and asked us why we had to involve the police. Even our efforts to explain to him that he was not around when the incident happened and that we had to invite the police to avoid letting the issue escalate to a bloody scene fell on deaf ears. He said we should go back and withdraw the matter first from the police before he could say anything.
“We later went back to the police and they gave us another date on the following week to return. On the appointed day, a Tuesday, we got the first surprise when we learnt from the station that my wife’s attacker had already visited the station on Monday and made a statement exonerating himself and even presented us as the aggressors.
“When we had a session with the DPO, he did not even allow us to talk before referring us back to Mr. Chukwudum. When I protested the way things were turning out in the matter, the DPO tongue-lashed me, describing me as the most miserable human being on earth. I froze in amazement over the DPO’s sense of judgment and comportment and that was when it dawned on me that certain things might have happened between the DPO and the market leader. But I have vowed to get justice and see the end of it all,” he said
Pastor Chukwuemeka called on the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command and Governor Willie Obiano to ensure that justice was done. He said his wife escaped death, insisting on a probe, just as he wanted the climate of impunity pervading the market brought to an end.
The victim, Mrs. Irene, who also presented various drugs and medical report given to her by the doctors at Onitsha General Hospital, said she still experienced constant headache and burning sensation in the eye since the incident.
When contacted, the outgoing chairman, Chukwudum, said he was not even around when the incident happened.
“I learnt that the woman in question had issues with her neighbours and the task force was invited to separate them. Along the line, they had issues with the task force and the woman and her husband went to the police. Police was investigating the matter but I just wanted to intervene and make peace as a stakeholder. I even told the DPO to allow us make peace but the complainant said he didn’t want that but would rather prefer going to court.
“The DPO just called me and told me to stay off the matter since the man said he wanted to go to court. I am no longer in office as the chairman,” he said.
When the reporter contacted the DPO, Ikechukwu Egbochukwu, he said he wouldn’t talk because the matter was already going to court. But he asserted that only a mad man would believe Kalu’s allegations, even as he insisted that only a mad police officer would do the things Kalu accused him of.