Police Rejoinder: Murder Of Barr. Dafiogho Egwuono, Samuel Ekwaghanju @ Ozoro In Delta




Delta State Police Command deeply regrets the gruesome murder of Barristers Dafiogho Egwuono and Samuel Ekwaghanju on Thursday 27th March, 2014, at about 1455hrs, in a lonely Oil Company Service Road at Ozoro. However, against the ugly insinuations being bandied in some
quarters by some notable pressure groups; and moreso, against the backdrop of the decision taken by members of Delta State branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to stay clear from cases of kidnapping, we deemed it necessary to state hereunder, for the awareness of the good people of Delta State some undisputable facts surrounding the case thus;

1.That the 2 lawyers are the defence Counsel in the ongoing trial of the accused persons in the case of the 2012 kidnapping of the son of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Delta State currently subsisting at Ozoro High Court.

2.That the 2 lawyers filed motion for a writ of hebeus corpus, praying the Court for the production of 2 other suspects namely Ogaga Enueme and Efe Edhike arrested in February, 2014 in connection with various cases of kidnapping and armed robberies which include the kidnapping of the son of the SSG in 2012 and the ambush of prison officials in March 2013.

3.That personnel from the Legal Department of Delta State Police Command had joined issues with the applicants in the court, whereupon the police defence counsel diligently highlighted the criminal escapades of the suspects sought to be released, some of which are herein set out seriatim;

i. The Kidnapping of one Mrs Bibiana Obonyana, aged 55yrs on 5/1/2014 at about 1100hrs on her way back from the church along Asaba-Ase Road, Uzere. The kidnapped woman was kept in unlawful custody for over 7 days in the house of one of the gang members – Jonathan Okolie aka GSM at Emu-Obodeti, where she was serially gang raped, after which the gang collected a ransom of N345,000.00 before the release of the victim.

ii. The kidnapping of an 85yrs old woman at Elu who was also gang raped before the collection of N1m for ransom.

iii. The March 2013 attack of prison personnel on escort duties from Warri prisons to the court during which a prison officer was killed and three suspects freed.

iv. The kidnapping of the son of the SSG in 2012 wherein the names of some of the gang members were revealed thus;

a. Jonathan Okolie aka GSM,
b. Ogaga Enueme,
c. Efe Edhike and
d. 2 others currently standing trial at Ozoro High Court.

4.That the court, after taking cognisance of the issues joined by both parties, slated the case for Ruling on Thursday 27th March 2014 at 12 noon at the instance of the counsel for the applicants.

5. That on Thursday 27th March, 2014 after 12noon, the court delivered its Ruling directing the Police Command to arraign the arrested suspects on or before 2nd of April 2014, wherein the defence counsel for the police duly informed the court that the suspects were to be arraigned in court on same date being 27/3/2014.

6.That on same date – 27/3/2014 at about 0830hrs, while taking the 2 self confessed suspected kidnappers/armed robbers to Ozoro for arraignment; along Ogwashi-Uku/Kwale Road, precisely at Edo-Ogwashi axis of the Road, the police escort team ran into an ambush, wherein some hoodlums suspected to be the gang members of the arrested suspects riddled the 2 vehicles conveying the police and the suspects with bullets.

7.That the escort team put up a good defence during which the 2 suspects – in a heated gun duel – suffered fatal gunshots while one of the police escort team member also suffered serious bullet wounds and is currently hospitalised.

8.That on same day – 27/3/2014, at about 1455hrs, information was received by personnel attached to Ozoro Divisional Police Headquarters that a Lexus Jeep with Reg No. EFR 234 VF and 2 corpses lying on the ground closed to the jeep facing each other were seen at Oil Well 4 near Onwhe flow station, Ozoro.

9.That the 2 corpses were identified by their distinct dressing as lawyers and removed to Bromic Hospital Ozoro for autopsy. The vehicle suspected to belong to one of the lawyers was also removed from the crime scene to the station after a comprehensive photograph of the entire scene by detectives.

10.That the vehicle was searched at the police station during which the identities of the lawyers were discovered to be Barristers Dafiogho Egwuono and Samuel Ekwaghanju.

11.That against the insinuations being bandied in some quarters that the police is behind the crime; we want to state unequivocally that the Command has continuously strived to maintain and adhere to the strict tenets of the Rule of Law by trying as much as possible to be dispassionate in the enforcement of our duties and not delve into the arena of conflicts howsoever. Some cases in point giving credence to the above assertions will suffice thus;

a) In 2012, a senior lawyer based in Warri was caught red handed while attempting to offer a bribe of N700,000.00 to a detective in a bid to effect the release of a suspected bloodletting kidnapper.

Evidence further abounds that the lawyer tried to persuade the police detective to hoodwink members of the public and the Command that the kidnapper died in a shootout with the police. The lawyer was eventually arrested and arraigned in court, and against the weight of evidence and the willingness of the Command to prosecute the case to its ultimate conclusion, the case was curiously discharged and acquitted and the lawyer is still walking freely today.

b) In 2013, an Asaba based lawyer tore a Warrant of Arrest and Seriously Assaulted a Police officer in the process of executing the Warrant. The lawyer was also arrested and arraigned in court and against the weight of evidence too and the Command’s willingness to prosecute the case to its ultimate conclusion, the lawyer was curiously discharged and acquitted and is today walking freely.

c) In 2012, a Warri based lawyer led some miscreants and Okada riders to attack Ebrumede Divisional Police Headquarters, Effurun. The lawyer and his accomplices were arrested and arraigned in court where they were also discharged and acquitted and is today walking freely.

12. That while we deeply regret the gruesome Murder of the 2 Ministers in the temple of justice – a crack team of detectives led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police State CID Asaba had been constituted to unravelled the mystery behind the sordid act.

Finally we want to reassure the good people of Delta State that the Command will never succumb to the temptations of extra judicial killing or be a party to same, but will rather remain undeterred or discouraged by any act of blackmail and will continue in our present efforts to ensure that the evil of kidnapping and violent crime is consistently fought head-on no matter whose ox is gored.



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