A Chief Magistrates’ Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday, remanded a police sergeant, Bitrus Hosea, who allegedly shot dead a policewoman on duty in a correctional facility.
The policewoman, Lovender Elekwechi, also a sergeant, was allegedly shot in the head by Hosea at the Eneka Market roundabout in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state last Thursday.
The police said the offence was punishable under Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, claiming that he was not aware of the place called the Eneka roundabout, where the said incident was alleged to have occurred.
He said although he had served in Rivers State for almost three years, he was not familiar with the names of places he had visited in the course of his duty.
Hosea stated, “I am from Taraba State; I have served in Rivers State for almost three years. I am not familiar with the Eneka roundabout, I believe we passed through that place, but I am not sure of the name of the places we have worked.
“When we were on Eliozu Road, the fuel in our Hilux van was exhausted; while we parked there, another Hilux van came and parked in front of our van. Some persons in mufti started pointing at me that I was the one, who shot the policewoman; they started beating me and tried to snatch my rifle.
“But I refused to let go of my rifle, because I did not know them. One of them even cut me on my head with a machete and I fell down and lost my two phones. The Divisional Police Officer came and took away my rifle and said I had 15 rounds of ammunition left in it, but I told him that 29 rounds of ammunition were in the gun.
“The next thing I saw was my picture everywhere on the social media that I was the one who killed the female police sergeant.”
The Chief Magistrate, Ipalibo Iyiabo, remanded the accused person in a correctional facility and transferred the case file to the Director of Public Prosecutions for legal advice as the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Iyiabo adjourned the matter till Tuesday, May 26, 2020, for mention.
Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, the Officer-in-Charge of Legal Prosecutions at the Rivers State Police Command, Gladys Imegu, said the accused was remanded because his offence was a capital one and the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.
Counsel for the family of the deceased, Jerome Okere, called on the police and the state government to expedite action and take care of Elekwechi’s infant and aged parents.
Earlier, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Joseph Mukan, had said Hosea had been dismissed from the force.
Mukan told PUNCH Metro in a telephone interview that Hosea had undergone an orderly room trial and was found culpable of murder.
He stated that the command would not have been able to charge him as a serving policeman, hence his dismissal before he was arraigned.
The CP stated, “He (Hosea) is in court. We charged him this morning (Tuesday). We have dismissed him because we cannot charge him as a serving policeman.
“We tried him earlier in the orderly room and he was found culpable of murder. So, it is for the court to determine whether that charge will stand or not.”
Source : Punch Newspaper