‘He ran into Chime’s convoy in error’
IF he had known that the vehicle he overtook was carrying Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, he would probably have kept his distance and allowed the convoy access to enable him stay away from his present predicament.
Perhaps, unknowingly, 30-year-old Anthony Okeke had overtaken an “unmarked” convoy of the governor late at night. Now his action has landed him in prison as security agents attached to the governor who ran after him, arrested him and gave him the beating of his life.
He was charged with alleged kidnap attempt.
The Guardian gathered that Anthony, a Sound Engineer with the Winners Chapel on Presidential Road, at about 11.00p.m. on February 22, 2015, had dropped off a friend at the Ogui Fire Service Roundabout, near New Haven.
He had re-entered the road, immediately his friend alighted from his car.
Apparently unknown to him, the unmarked convoy he overtook in the process was that of Governor Chime.
According to a statement from a human rights organisation based in the state, Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), the security officials attached to the governor, who apparently saw his style of driving as not only reckless and a threat on the life of the governor, pursued him and arrested him after firing gunshots that demobilised the tyres of his vehicles.
Despite the fact that his father, Mr. Linus Okeke, a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), was a bandmaster, who actually moderated the police band that played the National Anthem during Governor Chime’s swearing-in ceremony in 2007, it did not save Anthony from the fury of the security officials.
It was learnt that after torturing him, he was taken and detained at the office of the state Anti-kidnapping Squad for six days and later charged to the Magistrate’s Court for attempted kidnap of the governor.
In the charge sheet number: MES/03c/2015, Commissioner of Police Vs Anthony Okeke of February 27, obtained by The Guardian, Anthony is facing a one- count charge of “attempted kidnap.”
It reads: “That you, Anthony Okeke (M) on February 22, 2015; at about 2340hours night time, along Ogui Road, by Fire Service office, GRA, Enugu in the Enugu North Magisterial District, suspected to be armed with dangerous weapon/weapons, did attempt to kidnap the Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 315 (3) of the Criminal Code Cap 30 Vol.11 laws of Enugu State.”
The Magistrate’s Court had declined jurisdiction to try the matter and therefore directed that Anthony be remanded in prison custody, where he had been since then.
Meanwhile, the CRRAN in the statement by its President, Olu Omotayo, queried the rationale upon which Anthony is being tried, saying it “is an oppression of the governed by those governing them.”
The group insisted that there was no law in the country that stipulated that people should vacate the road whenever a high- ranking official of government was moving, stressing that “our leaders are yet to come to terms with democracy.”
Narrating the plight of Anthony in the statement, entitled, “Driving into the governor’s convoy and subsequent charge of citizen Anthony Okeke for attempt to kidnap the Enugu governor”, CRRAN said: “ We write and demand for justice in respect of the continued unlawful detention of Mr. Anthony Okeke, who was arrested by the security details of the Enugu State governor for unknowingly breaking into the convoy of the Enugu State governor with his vehicle around 11.30p.m. on February 22, 2015.”
“What could ordinarily at most have attracted warning was made a capital offence as Okeke was arrested, beaten to stupor and detained with his vehicle for six days at the Anti-kidnapping Base, Enugu before he was charged for attempt to kidnap the Governor of Enugu State, Chime.”
“The parents of the victim Mr. & Mrs. Linus Okeke made the complaints and appeal to us as follows: Mr. Okeke who is a pensioner, having retired as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), and the State Police Command Bandmaster, who played the National Anthem at the swearing-in of the Enugu State governor, and his wife, a teacher at a private primary school, stated in tears how their beloved son was falsely charged for a capital offence by overzealous security details attached to the Enugu State governor.”
The statement continued: “The Okekes said their son, Anthony Okeke, works as a sound engineer with the Winners’ Chapel Church Headquarters, Presidential Road, Enugu.
“They further stated that they were not aware that their son, who does live with them, had been in detention until February 26, 2015, when somebody called from the Winners Chapel to ask why Anthony Okeke had not reported to work since Monday, February 23, 2015. The following day, the Okekes started going from one police station to another until they were reliably informed that Anthony was detained at the Anti- Kidnapping Base.”
“Mr. Okeke rushed to the Anti- Kidnapping Base, Enugu to inquire of his son but the Investigating Police Officer Sergeant Solomon Jacob (Force
Number: 376196) informed him that Anthony was brought to them by policemen led by ASP Nnaedozie, attached to the Enugu State Government House on the allegation that they attempted stopping his car, but he overtook the governor’s convoy and he was arrested.”
Deploring the development, CRRAN asked: “The big question now is: who gave order that Anthony Okeke be charged for attempting to kidnap the governor of Enugu State just because he overtook his convoy at night?”
The CRRAN investigation revealed that the governor was driving around that Sunday night at about 11:40p.m. in an unmarked vehicle followed by about four unmarked vehicles, without the normal siren or fanfare that normally heralds his movement.
It was reported that Anthony, who had just dropped a friend in front of Fire Service Station, by Otigba Junction, Enugu, entered the road in front of one of the security vehicles following the governor and immediately volleys of gunshots were fired that burst his vehicle tyres.
It, therefore, condemned the arrest, torture and continued detention of Anthony on the “the frame-up charge of attempt to kidnap the Enugu State governor.”
Demanding the unconditional release of citizen Anthony, CRRAN said:
“He has not committed any offence known to the law by overtaking the governor’s convoy at night. This is an oppression of the governed by those governing them. It is unacceptable in any decent and normal society, this is Rule of the Jungle typified. We demand for his immediate release and also demand for the release of his personal effects and vehicle lying in the premises of the Nigeria Police Anti-Kidnapping Base in Enugu.”
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