The police on Saturday denied reports that suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, had disappeared from police custody, weeks after his arrest dominated the headlines.
Hours after The Sun Newspapers emblazoned ‘Evans Vanishes’ on the front page of its Saturday edition, police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, told PREMIUM TIMES the story was laced with “blatant falsehood”.
“Evans is intact in police custody,” Mr. Jimoh, a chief superintendent of police, said. “He did not vanish anywhere”.
Mr. Onwuamadike, 36, was arrested by anti-kidnapping officers in Lagos on June 10.
He was remanded in custody in Lagos for weeks after his arrest, during which he led officers to different locations he used for his alleged criminal activities.
Citing unnamed sources, The Sun suggested that the suspect might have “escaped, or died” because he was nowhere to be found during a visit it made to the police command headquarters in Lagos.
While claiming the suspect may have escaped, the newspaper, in the same report, curiously said he was moved to Abuja from Lagos by armed operatives.
The report sparked online uproar Saturday morning, after being republished by a slew of news blogs.
While acknowledging that Mr. Onwuamadike had indeed been moved from Lagos as indicated in The Sun’s report, a police source told PREMIUM TIMES Saturday that the move was to put an end to the frivolous media coverage of his stay in custody for proper interrogation.
“We moved him from Lagos to Abuja this week,” the official said. “This will allow us to properly interrogate him.”
“But the notion that he had somehow disappeared from custody or that police were not willing to give updates about his whereabouts is simply absurd,” the official added.
Mr. Moshood said the police shifted focus of attention away from Mr. Onwuamadike in order to extract relevant evidence needed to convict him of the charges to be filed against him.
“A lot of cases had been traced to him that we’re currently investigating as well,” Mr. Moshood said.
The spokesperson said a few other suspected collaborators of Mr. Onwuamadike had been arrested in recent weeks.
He said the police have a warrant that will enable them to keep Mr. Onwuamadike for the next three months without necessarily charging him to court.