By Polo Ayaba
An 18- year- old undergraduate, Ebenezer Israel Inya has accused policemen attached to Kpirikpiri Police Division, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital of beating his father, Israel Inya Aluu to death while in their custody.
According to Ebenezer, the incident happened on Wednesday August 28, 2018, after I was arrested alongside my father and some of my friends at the Assemblies of God Church beside our house.
It was learned that Ebenezer, who lives on 4 Nri Street, and his friends were playing football on the street when their ball flew into the compound of the church located on No 2 Nri Street.
The church officials then allegedly invited a policewoman, who is also a member of the church, to arrest the boys and Ebenezer’s father for allegedly disturbing the church programme by playing football around the premises.
Ebenezer said that they had earlier quarrelled with the gateman of the church after he seized their ball when it fell into the church premises.
“I was playing football with my friends when the ball entered the Assemblies of God premises. We met the gateman and pleaded with him to release the ball to us but he refused and started insulting us, we then engaged him in a quarrel”
“The pastor’s daughter came in and asked us what was happening and we told her that our ball flew into their premises, urging her to get it back”.
“She promised to plead with the man to release the ball to us. After sometime, we returned to the church and pleaded with the gateman to release the ball to us, but he started exchanging words with us. The senior pastor of the church too came out and started insulting us, while the pastor’s children and worshippers started attacking us. They later asked us to go to our house so that the crisis could be resolved and we went back to our house”.
He said some members of a para- military outfit attached to the church later lured him into the church premises where a policewoman arrested them.
“I was about taking my bath in order to come to our shop at Police Officers Wives Association (POWA) at the police headquarters when two security men came to me and asked me to come with them to apologize to the pastor so that peace could reign. I insisted that I will not go anywhere, but they threatened to call in the military if I don’t resolve the matter their way.
“When we got to the church we saw a policewoman who was on maternity leave and was wearing mufti came with a handcuff to arrest us and we asked the offence we committed and insisted she must tell us our offence. She refused to give us the reasons and locked the gate. They started beating us inside the church. My dad who was in our house heard about it and rushed to the church. He said they should stop beating us again and that we should all go to the police station to iron things out.
“They insisted that they were not going to the police station but must do everything inside the church. When they saw that the pressure was high, the policewoman took us out of the gate and started beating us. We got to the station with my dad and they detained all of us including my brother and beat us mercilessly.
‘’They (policemen) asked my dad to follow them to a room, and my father went in with them together with the leaders of the Assemblies of God Church. The next thing I saw was when they (policemen) came and released us and asked us to come and carry our father’s copse”.
Confirming the incident, police spokesman, Loveth Odah said: “On August 29, 2018, the Divisional Police Officer( DPO) of Kpirikpiri Division, said that there was a call from the Assemblies of God Church at Nri Street, Kpirikpiri, that (some) children were playing football and they played into the church premises.
“So the security officer whose name I do not know seized the ball, because he said that it was a regular thing which he said disturbed the occupants during the church hour.
“So, yesterday unfortunately the ball entered there and the security officers seized it. According to them, children started throwing stones on top of the zinc roof of the church. Along the line, the security officer decided to open the door to see who was doing it.
“He saw the two children who were doing it. He accosted them into the premises and now called the policewoman who had handled their matter before.
“The policewoman was actually on maternity leave. She was passing through the church to go and fill her gas cylinder. According to her, she parked her bike and entered inside (the church) to see what was happening.
“The security man opened the door for her and the access paved the way for their father to enter with her into the church premises. According to the policewoman, they were all judging the matter as children’s play.
“But the father to the children insisted that since he has accosted the children inside, by so doing, (they were) illegally detaining them, so the police must be aware of it. The policewoman assisted them to the police station and went her own way because she was not on official duty”.