By Archibong Jeremiah
The Cross River State command of the Nigeria Police has denied that any policeman was involved in the robbery incident which occurred on Tuesday September 23, 2014 at about 11:00PM in Obanliku Local Government Area and claimed the life of a business man, Mr. Eteshi Sylvester and one Corporal Emmanuel Onieowu of Obanliku Police Division with force number 067081.
Angry youths in the community had invaded the police station in Sankwala, Obanlikwu and burnt bikes, vehicles and documents after discovering that a policeman was involved in the overnight robbery incident that took the life of the business man who many say, was loved by residents of the town.
But in a reaction to the robbery incident, the Cross River Police Command in a press statement signed by the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Hogan Bassey, refuted reports that the robbery involved one of his late colleagues; Corporal Emmanuel Onieowu.
The release added that the media reports were aimed at tarnishing the image of the Nigeria Police Force as the said late robber was not a police officer serving in the state.
But the Cross River State Commander, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, VGN, Dr. Mercy Felix Effiom while speaking to newsmen in her Calabar office recently following the disclaimer by the Nigeria Police Force, said, “at about 11:00pm September 23, 2014, armed robbers attacked one Mr. Eteshi Sylvester in his compound, Sankwala Town while in his room with his children and demanded for all the money in the house, which he handed over to them and pleaded for his life to be spared.
“The hoodlums after collecting all the money in the house and shot him but before Mr. Eteshi Sylvester died, he struggled as a man and succeeded in shooting one of the armed robbers who died alongside with him but turned out to be a serving police officer, Corporal Emmanuel Onieowu with the Obanliku Divisional Police Station, Sankwala”.
She explained further that immediately the information about the robbery incident got to the Police and Vigilante Group, since both share the same premises, they went straight to Mr. Eteshi Sylvester’s compound for rescue but unfortunately, the armed robbers had escaped leaving the dead bodies of Mr. Eteshi Sylvester and the suspected police officer, Corporal Emmanuel Onieowu which were taken to Model General Hospital, Sankwala by the police at about 1:40 am.
The VGN Commander said, the following morning being Wednesday September 24, 2014 at about 6a.m., the Divisional Vigilante Group Officer, Dr. Sunday Ayang, Barrister Awah, Officer Francis Eyue Rtd, Chief Remigius, Elders of the community among others accompanied by youths took more than three hours to plead with the Divisional Police Officer, DPO to order for the display of the corpse of the armed robber and victim for identification but, the DPO bluntly refused.
She further pointed out that, following the persistent refusal of the DPO to display the corpse, “the youths got angry, went to the hospital with the help of the Mortuary Attendant, the dead body of the criminal was shown to them for identification, only to discover that the dead robber was a police officer serving in Obanliku Police Division. Their investigations revealed that the suspect, Corporal Emmanuel Onieowu had served in Bebi Border Police Station and was transferred to Akamkpa Police Station before he planned with his gang to attack and kill Mr. Eteshi Sylvester in his compound.”
According to her, “What really triggered the burning of vehicles at the police station was that, when the youths returned to the police station to inform the Divisional Police Officer that the corpse was that of a police officer, Corporal Emmanuel Onieowu suspected to be serving in Obanliku, the police had rather carefully evacuated all valuables and as well abandoned the police station”.
As a panacea, she called on the people of Obanliku and its environs to imbibe the banking culture in order to avoid incessant robbery attacks associated with the area.
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