JUSTICE Pearl Enejere of the Enugu High Court has adjourned till May 15 hearing in the murder case preferred against nine police officers, just as one of the witnesses to the crime, Police Sergeant Kalu Uduma, told the court yesterday how his colleagues killed the Assistant Superintendent of Police Boniface Ukwa two years ago.
Ukwa, who before his death was in charge of the Armoury Unit of the state police headquarters, met his untimely death along Independence Layout, Enugu, in the hands of his colleagues on June 22, 2010 on his way home after attending a meeting called by the Catholic Knights of St. John International.
Nine police officers led by Inspector Donald Meke said to have masterminded his killing, had since then been remanded in prison custody, while the matter is being tried.
Other police officers remanded alongside Meke are Tanko Kurmi, Matthew Omoleke, Somate Bright, Ameh Johnah, Alex Okolie, Atu Nnabuchi, Henry Onunze and Bassey Bassey, all attached to the Independence Layout Police Division.
At the resumed hearing on the matter yesterday, Sergeant Uduma, who said he was part of the police team from the division on patrol that night, narrated how they received a call from their Divisional Police Officer, O. Akpan, informing them of a robbery incident at No. 1, Nnobi Street, Independence Layout.
“There was also a radio message from the control room on that day and we proceeded to the place. But on getting there, we met our men on ground led by officer in charge of Surveillance, Tanko Kurmi. Together, all of us moved to No. 1, Nnobi Street but discovered that everywhere was calm. We asked people around and they said there was no incident. From there, we moved to No. 3, Nnobi Street where we met vigilante security men who told us there was no robbery incident.
“It was there that our team leader, Donald Meke, called the DPO to report the situation and he told us to check further in the area. “However, while we were on the street, we saw a Sports Utility Van coming from Umuoji Street towards the Nnobi roundabout and Constable Nnabuchi Atu shouted and said, ‘see the vehicle.’ Immediately, we tried to stop it. The driver stopped and began to drive in reverse, thus prompting us to open fire on the vehicle”, he narrated.
Uduma told the crowded court that everybody was firing, adding that while the firing was going on, he took cover in a nearby gutter until the shooting subsided and their team leader, Meke, asked all of them to come out.
“I came out and saw Meke standing and looking at the corpse inside the gutter and I think Meke caught the man alive and finished him up”, he added, stressing that they later took the corpse to their station.
Uduma disclosed that on getting to the station that night, Meke requested the DPO to buy them a drink “for a job well done,” which he did.
He, however, added that he was surprised to report to work the next morning to discover that the same team he worked with the previous night was asked to go to the State Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS) and make a report.
According to him, Meke, who drove the vehicle to the SARS office, stopped on the way to show them a copy of a statement he had prepared and “asked all of us to state in our statement that we did not kill the police officer or were we aware of who killed him”.
He said he didn’t know the person who was killed the previous night was ASP Ukwa, stressing that he decided to state the truth about the entire development on learning that it was a police officer who was murdered by the team that night.
After listening to Uduma’s testimony, Justice Enejere adjourned till May 15 to continue hearing on the matter and asked that the nine policemen be returned to Enugu prisons.