Controversies trail death of Abraham Chukwudi in Rivers police custody


Rivers CP, Tunji Disu

By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Controversies are trailing the death of one Abraham Chukwudi, a motor spare parts trader in Port Harcourt in the custody of the Octopus Strike Force, a unit of the Rivers State Police Command.

Chukwudi, the father of Abraham had accused operatives of Octopus Strike Force of unjustifiably torturing his son to death after he was arrested on January 11, 2024, for an undisclosed offense.

He made the allegation at a press conference held on May 23, 2024 in collaboration with members of the Civil Society Organizations.

The father of the deceased speaking alongside Enefaa Georgewill, a human rights activist and Chairman of Rivers state Civil Society Organization demanded justice for
Chukwudi who he said was a motor spare parts dealer at Ikoku.

He told Journalists that his son Chukwudi Okereke has been missing since his arrest by men of Octopus strike Force on 11th January 2024.

He lamented that despite continuous visit to the Police Octopus facility seeking information about his son, it took them four months to located his lifeless body at the morgue of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH.

Also speaking, Enefaa Georgewill condemned what he described as a barbaric and despicable act by the Commander of Octopus Strike Force and his team for their serial denials of the whereabouts of Chukwudi Okereke during the over four months of intensive search by the traumatized family after his arrest.

Georgewill accused members of the Octopus Strike Force of having a “Torture Chamber” in their command base where innocent victims are tortured to death on phantom allegations without the knowledge of their families.

He said ” We are demanding that an autopsy be carried out, we also demand that the commander of Octopus Strike Force should be arrested and prosecuted in with the Section 7 of the Anti-Torture Act and all officers who are directly involved in the torture and death of Chukwudi Okereke should be brought to justice ”

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But in reaction, police claimed that the deceased young man was a “cultist, kidnapper and armed robber”.

In press statement issued by SP Grace Iringe-Koko, the spokesperson for Rivers Police Command alleged that Abraham Chukwudi was “implicated in a case involving the kidnapping of a female business tycoon (name withheld) in the Diobu area of Port Harcourt on September 7, 2023.

“The victim was kidnapped by five armed gunmen and taken to a hideout in Elechi waterside. The kidnappers were armed with AK-47 rifles, a pump-action shotgun, and locally-made pistols. The victim was held captive for seven (7) days and was released after the victim’s family paid a ransom of ₦3.5 million.

According to Police, “investigations revealed that the deceased was a member of the Dey-Gbam secret cult gang. He and his accomplices purchased one of the AK-47 rifles used during the operation. Two of the kidnappers have been arrested, and they are also members of the Dey-Gbam cult group.”

Nevertheless, the police said the process of determining the real cause of death of the deceased in custody is ongoing.

For instance the Command said it held a meeting with the parents and spouse of the deceased, who were accompanied by two of their family’s legal representatives on the issue.

“During this meeting, it was agreed that the family would participate in the autopsy to determine the cause of death.

“The case of the death of the suspect has been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for discreet investigations to ensure a thorough and impartial examination of the circumstances surrounding this incident.

The Spokesperson assured that the Command remain committed to ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the investigative process.

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