The family of Uchechi Nwachukwu, a 36-year-old woman, murdered in Imo State south-east Nigeria, has demanded “speedy prosecution” of suspects arrested in connection with her death.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how a police team made up of detectives from the forensic section of the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department in the state discovered Ms Nwachukwu’s body.
Ms Nwachukwu, a staffer of Halim 633 Synergy Cooking Gas Station in Owerri, was murdered and buried in a shallow grave inside the gas plant.
Her body was discovered two days after her “mysterious disappearance.”
During a raid operation on the gas plant in late October, two suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of the victim, according to the police.
The two suspects were identified as the manager and clerk of the gas plant.
Two other suspects, including a security guard in the company, were said to be on the run.
Sunday Nwachukwu, the father of the murdered woman, told PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday that the family had been in pain since the incident happened.
He pleaded with the state government and security agencies to ensure that all the suspects linked to the murder of her daughter were speedily prosecuted.
“My daughter’s traditional marriage was scheduled to take place this December,” he said.
Mr Nwachukwu accused the police of delaying the prosecution despite being given the “logistics” they demanded from the family.
“One person could not have killed and buried her. They planned and executed the murder of my daughter. They must be made to face the law,” he stated.
Eze Nwachukwu, a brother to the slain woman, said the police had told the family that they had tracked the location of other fleeing suspects.
He said shortly after the family paid money for “logistics” to the police to effect the suspects’ arrest, the police made a U-turn claiming they could not track the suspects again because they had switched off their phones.
He claimed the police had not interrogated the arrested suspects.
“While we are mourning our sister’s death, the suspects are just living like people in their own flats in police custody. We are in pain every 24 hours of the day,” he said.
Eze said the family also paid for an autopsy test which the police promised to carry out and make the result available to them last Saturday but failed.
“They (the police) are just delaying the matter up till now. My sister is still in the morgue,” he said.
He accused the gas plant owner, simply identified as Halims, of not showing enough concern in the matter and has not done anything to assist the police or the family in the investigation.
He said the family was told that they could only communicate with Mr Halims through his lawyer.
“He only called once. And he hasn’t shown up since then,” Eze said of Mr Halims.
When contacted on Thursday, the police spokesperson in Imo State, Michael Abattam, told PREMIUM TIMES that the family’s demand and concern were “understandable,” but added that investigations usually take time.
Mr Abattam, a chief superintendent of police, said the police were on the trail of two fleeing suspects and would prosecute all the suspects as soon as the investigations were concluded.
“We will prosecute the suspects, but then, there must be diligence in the investigation. We don’t just arraign (suspects) without concluding investigations,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), a human rights advocacy group, has also called for a speedy police investigation and prosecution of the suspects.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said the police authorities in the state had assured the group that they would carry out “prompt, diligent and effective investigation and fair trial of the suspects”.
Mr Nwanguma also said the police promised to ensure “adequate compensation” to the victim’s family by the company.
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