The people of Bille kingdom in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State have called on the Rivers State Police Command to release Endurance Johnbull and Taminotonye Johnson Dei dead or alive.
Chairman, Bille Chiefs Council, Alabo Bennett Okpokiye-Dokubo, who made the demand while briefing newsmen on the development, said Endurance Johnbull and Taminotonye Johnson Dei have been missing and were among the twelve Bille youths arrested by police at the State Secretariat complex on 17th January.
Alabo Okpokiye-Dokubo noted that the Anti-cultism unit of the Police that arrested some of the Bille youths inflicted grievous machete injuries on the right hands of three of the youth namely; Oguru Diri, Brown Birena and one other.
“The invitation was in connection to a matter SSG, Tammy Danagogo is handling between Bille kingdom and Krakrama Community in Asari-Toru local government areas of the state over ownership of land on which an oil facility operated by Messrs Eroton Exploration and Production Limited is located.
“It was in the course of the meeting that words filtered to the SSG that youths from both sides who also came to witness the meeting were engaged in a fracas. We could not place what exactly was the cause of the fracas, so the SSG placed a call which prompted security operatives’ arrival, we heard several gunshots from the police to quell the situation and disperse the youths.
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“When we came down after the meeting, we were informed that some of our Bille youths were picked up by the police, no amount of plea we made could dissuade the police to release them, neither did we know the exact police station they were arrested and detained. Our youths arrested are twelve in number and their names are Oguru Diri, Brown Birena, Fingite Sure, Alphonso Junior Hutton, Ibiso One, Taminio-Diepiriye Isaac, Joshua Golden, Frank Eleki, Diepiriye Igani, Dokubo Jackson Opolo, Endurance Johnbull – suspected to have been killed and Taminotonye Johnson Dei- suspected to have been killed”
He, however, demanded the police to release the body of the two youths whom they presumed dead their custody while demanding that the police should as a matter of urgency take up the medical treatment of the three Bille youths that were inflicted with matchet injuries in detention.
“Actually, the police conducted investigation and at the end of their investigation, they charged the Bille youths to court on a three-count charge which reads: (1) conspiracy to cause decrease of the peace, (2) an act leading to decrease of peace by fighting, (3) stoning members of the Public with stones and other dangerous weapons. As a lawyer, I know for sure that these charges are very minor offences.
“Our worries are why should the police matchet three of our youths in their custody so deep that their fingers can no longer work. I was among the Chiefs who visited the police station the following day after their arrest, and the three victims pointed to us the particular police officer who inflicted the matchet injury on them, the police cannot deny that they did not inflict those injuries on them.
“Our concern is what may have prompted the police to matchet them, even if they are caught in the act? In the eyes of the law, they are not yet proven guilty, we are all bound by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, so no law enforcement agency has the right to take laws into their hands.
“We are also demanding the immediate release of the two Bille youths; Endurance Johnbull and Taminotonye Johnson Dei dead or alive. They were both arrested alongside others. How will two fledged men be missing in police custody, I know they will try to play a lot of antics, but we know they arrested them, the cutting of hands of those three young youths is a pointer that the two missings, probably the police might have killed them.
“If the police have killed them, they would not want to show their dead bodies, and that is why we are demanding even if they have killed them, they should at least release their bodies so we can perform our traditional rite in our various communities in honour of them because they are not cultist, they are not criminals, they were lawfully in company of other people for the sake of their dear Bille kingdom”
Wives of the two missing Bille youths, Mrs Songo Gift Dei and Mrs Emilia Johnbull who spoke to our correspondent, Tina Amanda, demanded in tears that the Police should release their husbands alive.