Tony Okafor, Awka
Policemen from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Anambra State Police Command have allegedly beaten up a 98-year-old woman, Cecilia Okpalaku of Achina in the Aguata Local Government Area of the state, over a family dispute.
“The policemen said they were looking for a document in my house but they ended up taking my granddaughter from me and assaulted me with an AK-47 riffle,” the nonagenarian told PUNCH Metro.
It was gathered that the incident happened when the cops invaded the family home of one Emeka Okpalaku in Achina on the invitation of his estranged wife, Chiemerie Nzekwe, from the same local government area.
Emeka, a Japan-based businessman, our correspondent learnt, was married to Esther from Uga some years back.
While Emeka was in Japan, Esther and their daughter stayed back in Achina with the mother-in-law, Cecilia.
A family source, who begged not to be named said, “Emeka was occasionally visiting home to see his wife and daughter. But trouble started when the husband visited home recently and observed certain strange things.
“It was Esther’s inability to explain some of these things that made Emeka to threaten to opt out of the marriage.
“Emeka, having sent his wife away, left their only daughter in the custody of his nonagenarian mother, Cecilia.
“His embattled wife stormed the husband’s place in Achina with some SARS operatives to forcefully take away their daughter.”
It was alleged that the SARS operatives assaulted Cecilia in the process as she tried to stop them from taking away the child.
The nonagenarian’s family has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for his intervention in the matter.
In the petition by its lawyer, Charles Asadu, the family decried the alleged assault on Cecilia by the police over a matrimonial issue.
The petition read in part, “We have been briefed and our legal services have been retained by Messrs Josephine Anudu and Euphemia Ekwebele of Umuezeiyi village, Achina in the Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.
“Information reaching us is that armed police men with Ak-47 rifles and wearing black T-shirts with the inscription, F-SARS, in company with Mrs Chiemerie Okpalaku, invaded the premises of our client and physically assaulted their aged mother, Mrs Cecilia Okpalaku, 98.
“The reason behind the attack was that Mrs Chiemerie Okpalaku is an estranged wife of Emeka Okpalaku, son of the aged woman, who resides abroad and has been in marital problems.
“We gathered that it was the aftermath of the matrimonial faceoff that prompted Chiemerie and the officers to attack the aged woman.
“They ransacked the entire household, damaged the doors of the rooms and went away with so many household items belonging to our clients.
“In an effort to subdue our clients, the police used the butts of their AK-47 rifles on the aged woman, who according to our clients, is now admitted in one of the hospitals in Achina.”
When contacted on the telephone, the command’s Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed, confirmed the incident.
Mohammed said the persons in dispute were not formally married, adding that the command had commenced investigation into the matter.
He said, “The real fact of the issue is that the man confiscated the credentials of his fiancée in order to deny her the opportunity of reporting for the National Youth Service Corps orientation.
“The complainant’s lawyer sent in a petition to the Anambra State Police Command and the Commissioner of Police ordered a discreet investigation into the matter.
“However, as soon as the suspect sighted the police, he escaped through a window. The police then used the power of ingress to gain access into the house.”