Sunday, May 24, 2020 2:58 pm
By Okafor Ofiebor/Port-Harcourt
The story of the gruesome murder of three undergraduates was like a shot from a horror movie. President Muhammadu Buhari, through his media aide, Femi Adesina, commiserated with the families of the deceased and the Rivers State Government. He gave a Presidential directive that the Police and other security agencies should fish out the culprits as a matter of urgency.
The digging and recovery of the decomposed remains of the three undergraduates in shallow graves in Eteo forest in Eleme Local Government area in Rivers State were carried out by the Anti-kidnapping unit of the Rivers State Police Command on 1 May.
Umoh Adoki, the elder sister of the late Joy Favour Adoki, the only female victim, had reported the case of his missing sister who was kidnapped in Choba axis of Obio-Akpor local government area on 7 April 2020, in company of the Late Nelson Nwafor and Fortune Obemba and dumped at Etoe forest in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers state.
The circumstances of the death of Joy Adoki, a final year (400 level) student of Management Science of the University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT being in the midst of the two male students of Rivers State University remains a guess. Even the authorities of the University of Port Harcourt that identified the late Joy as their student wondered what she was still doing in Choba axis on 7 April when the institution had been shut down due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the Police Public Relations Officer,PPRO, of Rivers State Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni had mistakenly identified the victims as Joy Adoki, Fortune Obemba, and Nelson Nwafor, all final year students of UNIPORT. However, facts later showed that the late Adoki was the only UNIPORT student, while Fortune Obemba is a year one Civil Engineering Student of the Rivers State University, RSU, and Nelson Nwafor was of the same institution.
Omoni said: “Men of the anti-kidnap unit swung into action and in the cause of their investigation, led to the arrest of one Friday Akpan who confessed to the crime and the arrest of the other accomplices. Omoni disclosed further that the Anti-kidnapping unit, led by its commander, Chief Superintendent of Police(CSP) Collins Edward Shadar, swung into action after a case of kidnap of the three undergraduates was reported to the unit.
Omoni stated that following discreet investigations and gallant efforts of the unit, led by CSP Shadar, the suspects were arrested and one of them led the Police to the place where the undergraduates were killed and dumped at Eteo forest, sandfilled close to Ogu Bolo Rivers.
The Late Joy Adoki was allegedly gang raped by the five kidnappers and later hacked to death.
DSP Omoni stated that one AK 47 riffle, one Pistol, three magazines,72 rounds of live ammunition were recovered from the suspects. Friday Akpan, who led the police to the forest of Etoe, confessed that they raped the female victims when they could not pay the ransom but that he did not partake in the killing. He said they (members of his gang known as “Trouble”) abducted the victims (Joy Adoki, Nelson Nwafor and Fortune Obemba) on the orders of one Bright Ikechi who told them that Nelson Nwafor, one of the victims, betrayed him after a forex exchange deal and money was paid into one of his accounts but refused to give him his share of the deal. The Officer in Charge of Anti-kidnapping unit,SP Shedar Edward, explained that the three suspects belonging to “Iceland cult” group are helping the Anti- Kidnapping unit of Rivers State Police Command in its efforts to key in to the policy of the new Rivers State Commissioner of Police, CP Joseph Mukan to rid the state of criminal elements.
Corpses of the victims were exhumed and packed in a bag for preservation at the mortuary, while the manhunt for the remaining gang members continued. The families of the late Fortune Obemba, Nelson Nwafor and Joy Adoki are demanding for Justice for the death of their loved ones. The families made the demand at the Police headquarters while speaking to journalists after the suspects were paraded at the Police headquarters in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, 6 May.
Mr Bright Obemba, the father of one of the three victims in Rivers State, Fortune Obemba, called on the Police not to allow his only son’s killers to escape justice. The 50-year-old father of one of the victims said the killers of his son had inflicted an everlasting pain on him, and as such, they do not deserve mercy. Describing the late Fortune as a good boy, and the only son, the father added that no amount of money or consolation would make him recover from the shock of the incident. He thanked President Buhari, Rivers state government, Nigeria Police Force and the Anti-kidnapping Unit of the command for their interventions that led to the arrest of the suspects.
On his part, Mr. Kelvin Nwafor, the brother to the Late Nelson Nwafor who spoke to journalists said after the first report of the incident that his brother could not be found seemed to be hopeless, he was surprised that when the case was transfered to the Anti- Kidnapping unit, the suspects were all arrested. He demanded for justice. On his path, Mr Umor Adoki, elder brother to Late Joy Adoki was pained in the way the sister was killed, hearing that she was gang raped before she was killed. He stated that the late Joy was a final year student the University of Port Harcourt and much has been spent on her to acquire education up to the final year. He also demanded for justice.
On 6 May, the Rivers State Police Command paraded the alleged five-man killer gang members who killed the three undergraduates of the Rivers State University and the University of Port Harcourt. The Commissioner of Police, CP Joseph Mukan said four of the suspects were arrested in Rivers state while the fifth was tracked down to Imo. CP Mukan reiterated the commitment of the command to serve the people and its earlier pledge to tackle all manner of criminalities in the state.
The prime suspect, Bright Iheachi, is alleged to have masterminded the abduction and killing after a foreign exchange deal with one of the victims, late Nelson Nwafor, went wrong.
The suspect, Bright Iheachi, while pleading with Nigerians to forgive him, alleged that he had a forex business deal with late Nelson Nwafor who took away his money. He alleged that the other four members of the gang all lived in the same neighborhood; that was how they succeeded in carrying out the act.
On 1 May, 2020, one of the suspects, Friday Akpan took the anti-kidnapping unit of the State command to Eteo community in Eleme Local Government Area to exhume the corpses of the three undergraduates. The fives suspects paraded are: Bright Iheachi aka Nelly, 20years, Friday Akpan, Emmanuel Kamiwelisha, Isaac ThankGod, a native of Eken, Khana local government area and Christain Chimezie Mbakwe 39 years a native of Obowu in Imo state.
-First published in the hard copy of TheNEWS, May 2020 edition