Following the nocturnal incursion of the community by police officers who are suspected of shooting the vigilante commander, Mr. Freeborn Ofeshohwo, also known as Cornerstone, and two other members, Mr. Friday Johnson and Enor Young, Idjerhe Kingdom, Ethiope West Local Government Area, Delta State, are exploding with rage.
Despite differing accounts of the events, the Delta State Police Command detained and arrested five members of the Special Anti-Cult Unit, or SACU, in connection with the incident. This led to a nonviolent demonstration and allegations of police brutality in the neighborhood.
There is a protest.
High Chief Obriki Onosia, the spokesperson for Idjerhe and the organizer of the community demonstration, stated that the victims were fighting for their lives at the Delta State Teaching Hospital, DSTH, Oghara, where the villagers had rushed them for treatment.
“Some police officers came to Idjerhe kingdom on January 30, 2024, to terrorize the peaceful people of the community,” he stated. The leader of the vigilante group in Idjerhe Kingdom, Mr. Freeborn Ofeshohwo, alias Cornerstone, Mr. Friday Johnson, Enor Young, and other members were intimidated and harassed by the police officers on this fatal day.
“For the past ten years, this man has served this kingdom honorably and has not been found lacking in any capacity, be it criminal or otherwise. They arrived at the vigilante commander’s rural house on the guise of searching for drugs.
“None of the aspects of drug sales that they claimed existed. If such drugs existed, they ought to have discovered some of them after thoroughly looking into the claims, rather than proceeding with their extrajudicial shooting and disfiguring of our law-abiding sons of Idjerhe Kingdom.
“According to our inquiry, the police officers claimed to be looking for cultists when they went to the Jesse Police Station to schedule their arrival when they arrived in the Idjerhe kingdom. It was nightfall when they arrived in the kingdom.
“They ought to have opened up at the Jesse Police Station and told the leadership that they were there to discuss drug-related concerns if their goal had not been to extract money from our people.
It is really disheartening that police officers on a mission authorized by their supervisor would show up to make an arrest only to end up fleeing the scene with their cell phones and identity cards still in hand after acting inappropriately.
An impartial stance—Imode, activist
Human rights advocate Comrade Kingsley Imode stated, “While officers were performing their duties, the circumstances demand scrutiny,” and demanded a thorough inquiry and prompt action. He emphasized that police and vigilantes should work together rather than against each other, advocating for a “balanced approach.”
Mr. Omonisa Michael, a member of the community, expressed doubts about the sudden arrest without a full inquiry.
Jesse and Sapele DPOs implemented useful actions
According to a police source, by paying the victims a visit at the Teaching Hospital, the Divisional Police Officers, or DPOs, in Sapele and Jesse, made proactive measures to defuse the situation.
“The Commissioner despatched these DPOs, demonstrating a sincere attempt to engage with the community and provide help, in contrast to allegations of disinterest. In Jesse and Sapele, the DPOs even slept overnight at the hospital.
Stepping on citizens’ rights will not be tolerated by Compol—PPRO
Five SACU officers were arrested, according to Delta State Police Public Relations Officer PPRO Bright Edafe. She said that Commissioner of Police Abaniwonda Olufemi had ordered their incarceration and a thorough investigation by the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID).
The Commissioner reaffirms that it will not be allowed to violate citizens’ rights, commit assaults, or handle firearms carelessly. Depending on the findings of the investigation, the cops will face severe consequences, which will operate as a deterrent,” he continued.