Residents of Calabar, the Cross River state capital, have accused the police of extra-judicially killing kidnap suspects it had earlier arrested and paraded in Ikom, central Cross River.
Police authorities had, few days ago, said they killed six kidnap suspects in Ikom during a gun battle after the suspects had abducted a business woman whose name was given simply as Ijeoma.
Spokesman the state Police Command, ASP Irene Ugbo, had told this reporter on phone that the police had trailed the suspects to their hide-out where the kidnapped lady was kept and that the operations ended in a gun duel with six of the suspects killed.
“The lady was rescued after the battle but six of the kidnappers were killed during the gun battle. Investigations are going on to find out if other culprits escaped in order to bring them to justice,” she said.
But residents are saying the Police was economical with the truth. Iwara Iwara, a presenter with a Calabar-based private radio station, Hit FM, posted on his Facebook wall pictures showing the suspects were actually arrested, paraded, driven away in a police van before news came later that they had died during a gun duel.
Iwara, who feared that the five suspected kidnappers might have been extra-judicially killed, wrote on his wall: “Ikom kidnap suspects: One minute they had all been arrested by the Police and the next minute they “were all shot in a gun battle with the Police;” Let us pray.”
In his comment on Iwara’s post, a youth leader, Mr. Akiba Ekpneyong, said: “There was a day police came to my community and in my very eyes shot someone death on kidnapping allegation without exchange of gun fire, but in the news the headlines was ‘the hoodlum exchanged gun fire on sighting police.’ I do not trust them.”
Another Calabar resident, who gave his name as Okafor Uche, called on the police authorities to unravel how people who were paraded could engage in gun duel.
When contacted again, the Police image maker said the allegations were false, noting that there is no place in the world that the police would parade suspects and thereafter kill them.”