By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
Five persons linked to the alleged cult killings in Nekede communities in Owerri West Local Government Area, have been arrested.
•Five of the suspects arrested by the Imo Police command during their parade at the command headquarters in Owerri.
South-East Voice in Owerri observed that the suspects arrested and paraded at the Imo State Police Command in the state capital were between the ages of 18 and 28 years.
In March 2019, some communities in Nekede were thrown into confusion following the reported cult clashes that resulted to loss of lives.
Also, investigation by South-East Voice revealed that the alleged killings could be connected to the last governorship/House of Assembly elections held in those areas.
However, an eyewitness told South-East Voice that “If the masterminds of these incidents are not arrested and taken to court, it is still a time bomb that would explode again.
“Now, we are jubilating that the police have arrested some of them but it is not over yet. We want the police to do thorough investigation and know the root cause of this problem. I want to tell you that some people are still aggrieved. You can see the reason why we have a lot of work to do. There is an issue and it must be visited.”
When South-East Voice asked about those arrested, he said: “I will not say anything for now but a trained policeman reading this will understand that there is need to do more work. It is just like holding down on something that wants to explode. By the time you get tired of holding it down, it will definitely explode. I think as a reasonable person, you should think of diffusing it for good. I will not say more than this, thank you.”
On the arrest of the five suspects, the Imo State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Orlando Ikeokwu narrated the story of his release; “This is predicated on the recent development in cult activities in Nekede community of Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State which claimed lives of three persons. This singular incident sent fears within people living in Nekede and its environs. I am glad to inform you that the command rose up to the occasion and brought the incident under control and today, normalcy has returned to the area.
In view of the above, I wish to present to you a total of five suspects involved in the crime as well as arms and ammunition recovered.
“The suspects are Martins Iwuagwu, 28-year-old; Obinna Ojike, 25-year-old; and 18-year-old Chibueze Kalu.Their victims, were “39-year-old Chidi Obilonu and Cyracus Ekejiuba, 45-year-old.”
Also in what seemed like a similar incident which the police said took place in Nekede, two lives were also lost.
According to the Police PPRO, “On 14/03/2019 at about 19:30hrs along Old Road Nekede, two persons were shot dead. Acting on intelligence report, operatives of Anti-Cultism Unit of the Command swung into action on receipt of the report and raided the hide-out of the hoodlums where the above listed suspects were arrested and exhibits recovered from them. Suspects have made useful statements to the police admitting to be members of a secret cult. Investigation is still ongoing.”
Orlando mentioned the suspects as a 22-year-old David Ogbonna and 21-year-old Oparaugo Joseph Onyebuchi, all males. He said their victim was a male named David Udeme.
According to him, “On 17/02/2019 at about 21 00hrs, the above named deceased, a suspected member of Supreme Vikings Secret Confraternity was gruesomely gunned down by unknown assailants of a rival cult group at Legacy Hotel Ihiagwa in Owerri West L.G.A.
“Upon receipt of the report, operatives of Anti-Cultism Unit of the Command swooped into action and raided a number of suspected secret cult group hide-outs where a number of suspects were arrested.
“On interrogation, the above named suspects confessed to belonging to Black Axe Secret Confraternity that orchestrated the gruesome murder. Investigation is on-going while efforts are in top gear to apprehend other fleeing members of the syndicate.”
However, he said that apart from the five suspects arrested in connection with the alleged cult killings, he also listed as exhibits recovered from them: “two Beretta pistols, one locally made pistol; two 9mm live ammunition, one live cartridge and a sharp kitchen knife.”
It should be recalled that South-East Voice had earlier spoken to one of the traditional rulers of the affected communities, the traditional ruler of Umuoma community, Eze Morrison Ekeh who described their experience as painful.
“The security agencies and the government should do something quickly in order to nip in the bud this bad trend.” He urged the Commissioner of Police to set up anti-cult squad as well as establish a unit in his community.
“Not only that, we are warning parents to please call their children and wards to order because we are now ready to fish them out and hand them over to the police.”
“I am so unhappy that this whole thing is happening in my own community. I feel sad. Everybody is afraid to move freely in their own community. This is unacceptable I must tell you. It is disturbing and nobody will allow such a thing to happen.
“How can small boys go about with guns and do whatever they like? It is wicked and it must stop now. I feel very sad about the killings; sad in the sense that these are promising young men who lost their lives instantly,” he lamented.