A policeman, who claimed to be the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Nigerian Railway Police Station in Umuahia, Abia State, was among three policemen and seven civilians arrested by personnel of the Uzuakoli Vigilante group in Bende Local Government Area.
The three policemen and the seven others had over the weekend gone to Uzuakoli from Umuahia and were allegedly vandalising the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) property when they were arrested by the vigilantes. Narrating the incident, the leader of Uzuakoli Vigilante group, Chiledum Onwubiko, said on Saturday last week about 10.30a.m., his members were patrolling the village when they saw a lorry with about 10 men inside including three armed policemen heading towards their farmland where the NRC packed some rails meant for the replacement of damaged rail lines. According to him, last year some of the rails were stolen by unknown persons. Onwubiko explained that when the lorry headed for the area, he suspected something might be wrong. The vigilante leader said he placed his men on the alert.
According to him, after a while, he disguised and went towards the direction of the lorry.
The vigilante said he found out that the men were using oxygen cylinders to cut into pieces the rails and were packing them inside the lorry.
Onwubiko said on sighting him, one of the policemen attached to Uzuakoli Police Station, whose name he gave as Stanley, suspected that people might have been aware of what they came to do and urged them to move away from the place. He said: “Immediately they hurriedly left with the rail lines they had already packed inside the lorry, but before then, I had alerted my boys. By the time they reached the major road, my boys tried to stop them, but they refused to stop and they were pursued to a point where it was not possible for them to escape anymore and they were arrested there.
“The policeman from Uzuakoli that came with them pleaded that we should allow them to go because the DPO of the station was aware of their mission. But we refused to allow them to go and insisted that the DPO must come to confirm that he was aware of their mission before they could be allowed to go.” During interrogation by the vigilante members, one of the policemen reportedly shot sporadically perhaps to scare the vigilantes, but when this did not work out, the policeman allegedly used the butt of his gun to wound three members of the local security outfit. They were rushed to the hospital for treatment.
The police at Uzuakoli Command were alerted. On arrival, they took the policemen and other together with the lorry and the NRC rails to the police station from where they were transferred to the area command at Umuahia. The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Geoffrey Ogbonna, could not be reached for comment.
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