*Rights group demands that suspect already released by Vigilantes be handed over to Police,condemn parading of suspect naked.
BY IBRAHIM BAKARE
Rivers State Police Command has directed the Divisional Police Crime Officer in charge of Igbo-Etche in Etche Local Government area to arrest members a local Vigilante– Onelga Security,Peace Advisory Committee(OSPAC) for publicly stripping a Pastor naked and parading him on allegation of defiling his three daughters.
It was learnt the a Pastor of a new generation church located in Chuwuta Igbo-Etche axis of Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, was stripped naked by members of the Onelga Security, Peace and Advisory Council (OSPAC) operating in the area for allegedly defiling his three daughters.
The Pastor, (name withheld) who allegedly confessed to the crime in a viral video seen on social media was also beaten in the presence of his wife and son for the act.
Unconfirmed reports have it that his son reported his father to the security outfit after he learnt that his mother has been covering up for the dad.
Members of OSPAC who operate in area on getting the report, and without recourse to the Police Divisional Headquarters, mobilised to the Pastor’s residence, took him outside and stripped him naked.
In the video, a member of the group asked why the suspect defiled his daughters, he said he was bewitched by his mother.
The Pastor said, “It is because of a witchcraft force. My mother told me not to marry this woman (pointing to the wife), but I continued to marry her. So, my mother did that to punish me and bring shame on me.”
Pastor said, “My church is in Chuwuta in Ibgbo-Etche. I have many members but I have not had sex with any of the women in my church.”
On hearing the “confession”, leader of the vigilantes, slapped the cleric, while two other members flogged him with canes.
A member of the group turned to the suspect’s wife, who said she was 56 years old, demanding what she did after discovering the crime.
“I cannot do anything because I love my husband and I cover him. But I told him not to do it again. I cover him. But I told him not to do it again. I cover him because of love,” she replied.
When asked to speak, the pastor’s son, who reported the matter to the vigilantes, said his father laid curse on him for exposing the secret.
The leader of the vigilantes compelled the suspect to reverse the curse.
It was gathered that he was later taken to a nearby Police Station.
However, the Spokesman for the State Police command, Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident, but expressed anger at the way the vigilantes treated the matter which was crude and outrightly illegal.
Omoni, who is also a Lawyer, expressed anger at the volumes of cases of abuse of human and People’s rights reported to the Police Command on daily basis concerning the method of Operation of the local Vigilantes.
“The Vigilantes are supposed to hand over any suspect they apprehend for whatever alleged criminal offence to the Police for thorough investigation. But not to torture,detain and parade suspects naked in public. It is not allowed. Suspects have rights too”.
He said, “All those involved in the matter, including the vigilantes, will be arrested for taking the law into their hands. They compounded the situation by not reporting to the Police. The Divisional Police Officer in charge of that area has been mandated to bring all those behind it to justice”.
Meanwhile,a human rights advocacy group Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign has called on OSPAC,a local vigilante in Igbo-Etche. to immediately hand over to the so-called ‘Pastor’ who was arrested by the group to the Police.
Prince Wiro, Secretary Board of Trustee of the group said intelligence available to the group indicate that the man who was stripped naked in a viral video was not handed over to the Police after the intervention by some persons.
Mr Wiro disclosed that in as much as the organization commend OSPAC for arresting the ‘Pastor’ the group frown at a situation where the suspect is allowed to go home without proper investigation by the Police.
Mr Wiro stated that the group has also reached out to the OSPAC Commander in in Igbo Etche who confirmed that they stormed the man’s house as a result of fight between the man and his son over the alleged rape.
The OSPAC Commander also said he will call the Unit Commander of OSPAC in Umuebule to take Police officers the ‘Pastor’ house to re-arrest him.
Mr Wiro told our Correspondent on telephone that “only a discreet investigation by the Police will unravel if the ‘Pastor’ is culpable or not and he is culpable he should be made to face the law. He said the organization will use means known to the law to ensure OSPAC in IgboEtche is held accountable if the suspect is not handed over to the Police”.
The Secretary of the Rights Advocacy group said the Public Relations Officer of the Rivers State Police command, SP Nnamdi Omoni has been contacted by the organisation and he said efforts are in place to by the Police to arrest the suspect. Wiro called on the Rivers State Police Command to ensure justice on the matter.
According to Wiro, “We condemned the alleged stripping of the suspect naked as it is a violation of his rights to human dignity.A suspect is presumed Innocent until pronounced guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction”.