Group accuses police, Ebonyi government of covering up abduction of five engineers
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has accused the Police and Ebonyi State government of ‘dangerously covering up’ the abduction of five engineers attached to the NELAN construction company about two months after they were declared missing.
The engineers were missing at the construction site of the AfDB funded $150m Ebonyi ring Road Phase II, located at Effium, Ohaukwu Council, on November 3, last year and had not been found till now.
In a statement made available to The Guardian in Enugu and signed by board chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, the group blamed the inability of the police to live up to its responsibility and leadership failure of the Ebonyi government as responsible for continued the missing engineers.
The group said: “Intersociety sees nothing but systematic and deliberate efforts by the duo of the Nigeria Police Force and the government of Ebonyi State to dangerously cover up the heinous and dastardly act. The colossal failure of the Nigeria Police Force including its Ebonyi State Police Command and Force Headquarters’ Departments of Intelligence, Investigations, Operations and Information Communications Technology to unmask the circumstances leading to the five NELAN Engineers’ abduction and disappearance and the criminal citizens, entities or bodies responsible also speaks volume of the chronic decadence that has afflicted the Force in recent years. This is to the extent that ‘hearsay’, ‘trial by ordeal’ and other forms of jungle justice policing have become their modus operandi especially in the Force’s Departments of Intelligence and Investigations.
“It is very important to point out that in the case of the abducted and missing five NELAN Engineers in Ebonyi State, the Nigeria Police Force Departments of Intelligence, Operations, Information and Communications Technology and Criminal Investigations are the statutory intra agency bodies expected to unmask the heinous and dastardly act. While the duty of the FCIB is to gather requisite intelligence and share or forward same to FCID, the F/ICT and F/OPS are mandatorily required to share their responsibilities with the FCID by aiding them in the areas of electronic detection/investigation and tracking and apprehension of the real suspects and their sponsors as well as aiders and abettors. These were the reasons behind our submitted letters to FCID, FCIB and NHRC on December 16, 2021.
It added: “That is to say that the NPF Department responsible for unmasking the Ebonyi State five NELAN Engineers’ abduction and disappearance and their abductors is the Force Department of Criminal Investigations and its sub departments of Homicide, Anti Kidnapping, Counter Terrorism and Forensic (including criminalistics, pathology, toxicology, physical anthropology, odontology, psychiatry, serology, ballistics, homicide, crime labs, laboratories and victimology).
Where the required skills and techniques such as in the areas of electronic policing and law enforcement operations are in short supply in the NPF’s FCID, the Department is bound to seek and secure them from the Departments of ICT and Operations including skills and techniques for electronic intelligence, electronic tracking or detection and electronic investigation, which must all revolve around the triangular of “crime scene and its acts, the victims and their reactions/conditions and the perpetrators and their dastardly acts”.
The group stated that the public would be interested to know the whereabouts or locations of the abducted and missing engineers; whether they are still alive or killed in captivity by their abductors/captors; why they were abducted and disappeared and who was responsible for abducting them.
“The Ebonyi State Government and the present leadership of the Nigeria Police Force are strongly reminded that crimes have no expiring dates to be investigated and prosecuted and not even the ‘immunity of office’ can stop same”, it added.
When contacted on the issue, Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, said: “We had long reacted to that. Whoever is writing anything is trying to smear the image of the Ebonyi government because of the presidential ambition of our governor. They will fail woefully. They are people paid to blackmail our governor. We are cruising in development transformation like no other place in Ebonyi state and prosperity. Let me assure them that the money they got to blackmail the governor will be useless with them. We have passed this useless blackmail and anybody playing with the dead or the sad story of the dead including the relatives is on his own.”