If the police had gone there well armed or re-enforcements had arrived earlier, the students may have been alive.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has confirmed that police officers were present when four students of the University of Port Harcourt were beaten and eventually murdered by residents of nearby Aluu community.
The police boss, in a statement released on Monday, said the police got a call at 7.00a.m. on October 5 that some armed robbers had been arrested in Omukiri-Aluu, in Ikwere Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Mr. Abubakar said a patrol team of four Policemen from Isiokpo Divisional Police Headquarters was dispatched to the area, a distance of about 10km. He said the police team met a mob attacking the four suspected robbers.
“Attempt made by the Police Patrol Team to take over the suspects were met with stiff opposition from the mob who chased the team with stones,” the police boss claimed.
The police chief said the patrol team called for re-enforcements.
“But unfortunately, upon the arrival of the reinforcements, the alleged armed robbery suspects have been stoned and burnt to death, while the mob immediately took to their heels.
“The corpses were recovered by the Police who by then have been joined by members of the Joint Task Force (JTF),” he said.
Rivers Police lied
The official statement by the police boss contradicts earlier claims made by the Rivers State Police Command that its men were present in the area when the students were killed.
The Rivers Police spokesperson, Ben Ugwuegbulam, had in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES last week denied vehemently that police officers were present at the scene of the murder.
Mr. Abubakar also in the statement confirmed the identity of the four students as Tekena Elkanah (20), a Diploma Technical student; Chiadaka Odinga (20), 200 Level, Theatre Arts student; Ugunna Obuzor (18), 200 Level, Geology Student; and Lloyd Toku (19), 200 Level, Civil Engineering Student. He said the police immediately launched investigations into the killings leading to the arrest of Hassan Welewa, the traditional ruler of Omukiri Community, Aluu, where the heinous incident took place, and 18 others, some of whom are members of the vigilante group of the community.
“Intelligence report implicated Alhaji Hassan Welewa, as being the person who incited the mob to unleash terror on the victims.” Mr. Abubakar said. “Further investigation conducted by the police indicates that four (4) suspects, namely: Felemo Solomon; Cynthia Chinwo; Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Samuel Evans have been closely linked to this barbarous act.”
The police chief also gave a hint of what led to the initial arrest of the four deceased students.
“Findings have revealed that the victims had gone to the area where they met their unfortunate death earlier that morning to demand for money allegedly owed to them by Coxson Lelebori Lucky, alias ‘Bright’, who raised a false alarm that the victims were armed robbers.
“Although, Coxson has gone underground, detectives are on his trail,” Mr. Abubakar said.
The police boss assured that “massive deployment” of police officers and detectives had been sent to Aluu, and that investigations were ongoing on the murder.
“Investigation is ongoing with efforts being intensified to track down others who are involved in the incident. Those who are found culpable shall be prosecuted,” he said.