Emerging facts indicate that the escape of suspected ritual murderer, Ifeanyi Dike from the criminal investigation department of the Rivers State police command (SCID) was masterminded by highly placed but yet to be identified personalities. This position derives from very strange incidents that have trailed the saga since it began. In this special report by our managing editor, Godswill JUMBO we bring you the sultry aspects of the unfolding debacle.
TNN checks reveal that a call was allegedly put across to the Okporo divisional police officer, where the suspect was initially held for the matter to be transferred to the state CID. Dike escaped on the evening of the same day he was moved to the SCID.
Though, it is yet unclear who placed the call and who at Okporo division was called, sources hinted TNN that it was strange that the call should come from the SCID instead of the commissioner of police under whose command all DPOs function.
This has given verve to insinuations that the whole saga of Dike's escape may have been masterminded by some highly placed personalities for whom Dike worked, who were jittery that should he be interrogated at Okporo, he might say more than was necessary.
Dike had already confessed to the crime and also mentioned the person who sent him. The yet-to-be-named man has since been arrested by the police, according to the state commissioner of police, Zaki Ahmed.
A top security source confided in TNN that there was close surveillance on the police officer who aided Dike's escape, Johnbosco Okoronte, as there was reliable intelligence that Dike's sponsors might eliminate him and Dike in order to forestall any possibility of unmasking them. He hinted that Okoronte might only be a pawn in the unfolding drama and might be eliminated to cover the tracks of those directly involved.
The source hinted that there was pressure from very powerful quarters on the police high command to soft-pedal on the case as they were jittery over the involvement of the intelligence response team of the Inspector- General of Police (IGP) in the matter.
Two Weeks After, Uniport Yet To Verify Dike's Status
Meanwhile almost two weeks after the incident, the University of Port Harcourt was yet to ascertain the status of Dike. A reliable source identified him as Maxwell Ifeanyi Dike, a 200-level undergraduate of the physics department in the faculty of sciences of the university.
In a chat with TNN, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the university, Williams Wodi said “we are trying to check through the entire faculty of science to find out whether he is indeed a student. That is exactly where we are”.
“This matter is squarely in the domain of the police. This boy was not arrested in the University of Port Harcourt; he was arrested at Eliozu, far away from the University of Port Harcourt. I am sure you know that we are on forced vacation right now, due to ASUU strike. So, we are not in a position to account for anybody who is a student or who is not a student.”
Eight year old Victory Chikamso Nmezuwuba was abducted and murdered by the fleeing Ifeanyi Dike for ritual purposes at Eliozu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state. Dike was apprehended by a vigilante group in the area while on his way to dispose of the dismembered body at about 1am.
Upon interrogation he confessed to have been sent by one Ugochukwu to get the parts for him to perform some money rituals for him. The said accomplice has since been arrested by the police. Dike later escaped from the custody of the police at the state CID, triggering a public uproar across the state.
The state commissioner of police, Zaki Ahmed later apologized for the negligence by his men just as the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), Johnbosco Okoronte, from whose custody Dike escaped, was promptly dismissed from the police and arraigned before a magistrate court for aiding the escape of a murder suspect and obstructing the cause of justice.
Ahmed announced a N1 million reward for anyone who provides information on the whereabouts of the fleeing murder suspect. Director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside later offered an additional N500,000, bringing the total amount to N1.5 million.
University Community Reacts
Process On To Weed Out Other “Ifeanyi Dikes” – Uniport VC
In response to TNN enquiries, vice chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Ndowa Lale, regretted that characters like Ifeanyi Dike still mired the university community in the country. In his words: “Any vice chancellor and indeed any responsible Nigerian should be very concerned about having a student in any of our universities who turns out to be a ritual murderer.”
He disclosed that his administration was poised on flushing out characters like Dike from the university. He stated that “ferretting out such students is part of the crusade being conducted by the current administration under my watch.” Lale did not however reveal what the institution's management was doing to achieve this objective.
Characters Like Dike Aren't Benchmarks For Judging Universities – Ignatius Ajuru VC
Reacting to the incident, vice chancellor of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni, Professor Oro-Mekuri Ndimele, dismissed insinuations that Dike' signposted the character of students of the university.
“A university is made up of people of different characters and all manner of people; the good, the bad and the ugly. So, one issue would not be enough to label us as a bad university. I think that it is just one off. In a school of over 10,000 students you must have one or two bad people in the system,” Ndimele, who was a former dean of the faculty of Humanities at the University of Port Harcourt, said.
“So, to have one incident is not enough to blacklist us or label a university as a bad university. I don't believe so. People like us passed through Uniport as well. So, one incident is not enough to label Uniport as a very bad university. Every university has people of different characters, the good, the bad and the ugly; people that kill or maim. And that is not the behaviour of Uniport students.”
The professor of Comparative Grammar and Communications, who was also Chair Occupant of Kay Williamson Language Studies, said “the law should take its course, that's all. He is a criminal; the law should take its course. And if he is found guilty by the law they can do anything they want to do with him.”
“In a university, like where I am, there will be a panel to investigate what happened. It is not a university matter as such. It happened outside the university. The law would take its course. But if he comes back to the university, if I were the VC we would set up a small panel to find out what happened and see whether we can allow such a person to continue to stay in our university or not.”
Why It's Difficult To Escape From SCID, Port Harcourt
A close look at the premises and environs surrounding the state criminal investigation department of the Rivers State police command raises questions as to the likelihood of an arrested suspect escaping from there. Not only is the SCID well secured, the surrounding environment is heavy with police presence.
The SCID complex sits along Hospital Road and adjacent to the Central Police station, on the same road, and the area command, which is on the adjoining Barracks Road. Behind these three police formations is the police barracks which entrance is on Aggrey Road.
Aside the arms guard comprising in most cases close to 20 armed policemen at the entrance of each of these three formations, there are armed police operatives strewn around Barracks and Hospital Road, who provide reinforcement to the arms guard, should any attack or breakout occur.
The SCID itself has two major buildings housing the offices of the deputy commissioner of police, criminal investigation department, his assistant, and several other senior officers. It also houses an extension of the legal department of the state police command.
The detention facility, which is the second major holding facility for high profile suspects, aside the command headquarters at Moscow Road, is on the ground floor and deep inside the main building. The cells and each of the offices there are demarcated by corrugated steel bars with gates that are also manned by armed operatives.
Most of the sensitive offices in the main building have disguised entrances, meaning you cannot access them directly except through other offices, which normally do not appear to be linked to where you are headed. The entrance to the main building is manned by armed operatives numbering over 20. These sit in and around the counter where visitors are attended to be very civil and uniformed personnel who clear every visitor, before they can see any of the senior officers or detained suspect. It is mandatory to drop all communication gadgets at the counter before proceeding beyond this point.
Given the above description, it becomes incredible how the ritual murder suspect could have escaped from this high security facility without any intervention from the armed operatives within the building, at the various entrances and even those around the vicinity of the SCID.