From Felix Ikem, Nsukka

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nsukka Branch has expressed their dissatisfaction on the account of the Kogi State Police Command on how their colleague, Mr. Elias Ugwu was allegedly killed on March 9th.

MBA made their position known in Nsukka on Friday in a press statement signed By Mr. Sunny Okoro, Chairman NBA, Nsukka Branch, and was made available to newsmen.

Okoro said that the position of NBA was that Ugwu was deliberately and unjustifiably killed by state actors, and vowed that the association will continue to push until Justice is duly served.

He maintained that their slain colleague left Nsukka on the faithful day he was killed and had succeeded in securing the release of his cousin, Ugwu Alexander who was kidnapped alongside five other passengers at Ijih Urban Area in Kogi State, only to be killed by police on his way back to Ayingba where his cousin resides.

The press statement captioned “The Gruesome Killing Of Our Colleague, Barr. Elias Ugwu, By Officers of the Police Area Command, Anyigba Kogi State: The Position of the NBA, Nsukka Branch,” read;

“It’s with heavy hearts that we make this press statement on the killing of our colleague, Barr. Elias Ugwu, who at all times before his untimely and mindless decimation, was a bona fide member of the NBA, Nsukka Branch.

“Information available to us is that our late colleague’s cousin, one Ugwu Alexander, was kidnapped alongside five other passengers at Ijih Urban Area between Aloma and Ejule in Kogi State and were taken into the bush and made to contact their relations for the payment of ransoms for their release.

“The said Ugwu Alexander made a distress call to our late colleague and intimated him of the state of affairs, prompting our colleague to start making frantic efforts to raise the ransom and secure the release of his cousin.

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“Upon sourcing the demanded ransom, our colleague made reports to the Anti-Kidnapping Office of the Nigeria Police Force, and also the Divisional Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, Ogrute, Enugu-Ezike in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area, both in Enugu State, intimating both commands of the kidnapping, and his proposed journey to Kogi State to deliver the ransom.

“Our colleague proceeded to Kogi State to deliver the ransom as directed by the kidnappers.

“After delivering the ransom somewhere in Alede-Egume, and securing the release of the said Ugwu Alexander, our colleague was making his way back to Anyigba where his cousin resides, with his cousin and one other person, Chidi Aneke who accompanied him from Nsukka, and when they got to Ojigbala-Egume, unknown to them that the police had laid an ambush for them, they drove into the ambush and the police, without an attempt at even stopping their vehicle, opened fire, and shot our colleague on the head; it is also worthy to mention that the police van was packed away from the road, to avoid suspicion as they laid in wait for the car.

“After shooting our colleague, the other two occupants of the vehicle made passionate pleas to the police to rush him to the hospital, after identifying themselves and explaining their mission in the area, but the officers chose to treat them as suspected armed robbers, arrested and handcuffed the two survivors; at the time they eventually accepted to take our then dying colleague to the hospital, it was already too late and he was pronounced dead-on-arrival.

“We have also read with dismay, the statement issued by the Kogi State Police Command with all the distortions and contradictions that it is laced with.

“We wish to put the records straight, first, that our colleague, Elias Ugwu, left Enugu State, on Saturday, the 9th day of March 2024, the same day he was gruesomely killed by the police. It is therefore a deliberate misinformation, to state that he and his companions were seen roaming the bush in Kogi State for two days or more prior to the 9th day of March, 2024.

“It is also a deliberate and callous distortion to state that our colleague was flagged down and he refused to stop and that it was the tyres of the vehicle that the police targeted. Our colleague, by the account of the survivors of the incident, was never stopped at all but was simply fired at by an officer later simply identified as Sampolo, on jumping out from the bush where he and his colleagues hid waiting for the vehicle.

“Furthermore, why would the police allege that Elias Ugwu was killed in the bush, when he had already entirely left the village where the ransom was paid, and was driving to Anyigba, and the victim of the kidnap already reaching out to people, joyfully announcing his freedom? What are the police intending to hide?

“It’s disheartening that the Kogi State Police Command would, instead of showing sympathy and remorse for this obviously reckless act, choose rather to embark on churning out spurious allegations aimed at shielding their personnel from the law.

“Our position as a Branch of the NBA remains that Elias Ugwu was deliberately and unjustifiably killed by state actors, and we will continue to push until justice is duly served,” he said.