A businessman named Ikechukwu Okpara has been arrested and kept in prison custody by the police in Anambra State after gunmen attacked his vehicles and their passengers in the Ihiala area of the state.
The attack, which occurred in December 2021, saw two policemen killed by the gunmen, who also went away with a Toyota Hilux van belonging to Okpara.
The 45-year-old businessman based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, leases vans and other vehicles to contractors working in different states across Nigeria.
On the day of the attack, some of his vans accompanied by policemen were heading to a state in the South-East for a job when they were ambushed and shot at by gunmen in the Anambra community.
A few days after the attack and while the businessman was awaiting news from the police on whether his vehicle had been recovered, he was invited to the Criminal Investigation Department of the state command in Awka, the capital, to write a statement on the incident.
Okpara was thereafter detained by the police for several days without any genuine reason despite being a victim of the gunmen attack himself.
His family members were asked to pay a huge amount of money to secure his release but after they failed to meet up with the demand by the police, things quickly took a different turn.
The businessman was immediately framed by the police for the murder of the two law enforcement personnel during the bloody attack last December and was also accused of going away with their service rifles.
He was subsequently charged to court for conspiracy and murder and later moved to Nnewi Prison where he has since remained.
A sibling of the man, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Tuesday, Solomon Okpara, disclosed that the investigating police officer of the case named Nwakonobi confirmed to them that the businessman was innocent and that if they could provide the money demanded by the police he will be released.
Solomon further revealed that a client who owed his brother some money had been working closely with the police to ensure the debt was not paid.
He added that the Commissioner of Police in Anambra wanted to release his brother but rescinded the decision after learning that two policemen died in the attack.
“Around December last year, I had a dream and saw where police arrested my brother and wanted to kill him. I called and told him what I saw but he didn’t take it seriously. A few days after that period, he called to tell me that what I saw in my dream had happened in real life.
“His vehicles were attacked by gunmen at Ihiala, Anambra State. One policeman died on the spot while the second died later that day. The gunmen took a Toyota Hilux belonging to my brother.
“Later, CID Awka invited him to come and see them. The invitation came from the IPO, Nwakonobi. Since my brother honoured that invitation, he has not returned home.
“They made a monetary demand which my brother could not meet and immediately took the matter to court. They charged someone they know is innocent for conspiracy and murder, and moved him to Nnewi Prison.
“The lawyer on the case told us what they wrote on his case file. They wrote that my brother came to the scene and shot the policemen and took their guns. Imagine this kind of wickedness. The same police are supposed to investigate and get back his vehicle.
“My family has been spending money; we can’t even afford to pay the lawyer who is handling the case again.
“A victim of gunmen attack should not suffer at the hands of those who should help him get justice.
“The CID in Anambra is intentionally working hard to see that an innocent man perishes in prison,” he said.
The spokesperson for the police in Anambra, Ikenga Tochukwu, when contacted by SaharaReporters on the issue, said that he was not aware of the matter, adding that he would follow it up to ascertain the facts.