Stolen Child: Family’s Ordeal With SARS, N.527m Bribe Demand

The Onwughalu family in Ozubulu, Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state has petitioned the inspector general of police, Mohammed Adamu, calling for a probe and prosecution of operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Anambra state who allegedly demanded bribes amounting to N527,000 to investigate the theft of their child.

SARS operatives at Awkuzu, according to the petitioners, demanded N500,000 from the family to investigate the theft of their three-year-old son, Kamsiyochukwu Onwughalu, N25,000 for a petition to the commissioner of police, CP, Mr. John Abang, and another N2,000 for writing the petition.

Felix Okeke, the father of Mrs. Uchechukwu Onwughalu (nee Okeke), the woman whose child was stolen, told newsmen that the family went through a lot of ordeal in the hands of police officials at Ozubulu in Ekwusigo local government area where the case was first lodged and the Awkuzu SARS office.

According to Okeke, his grandson was reportedly stolen by a woman who was caught and handed over to the Ozubulu police station, adding that since then ” nothing tangible has been done by the police at Ozubulu to recover our stolen son from the suspect. The worst is that her members come to the police station daily to feed her. They even demanded and had her released on the ground that she was sick.”

“We had no other option left than to look for a better place and we went to Awkuzu SARS where the commander heard our complaint and sent us to somebody he called ‘administrative officer’ where we made a statement”.

“After the statement, which they wrote and, on their own, added the of use of a gun against which we complained to no avail, we were asked to bring N25,000 for a petition to the CP and extra N2,000 for writing the petition. We complied, as we needed to recover our stolen child. We were then told that we would be informed when the petition would be ready. About two days later, we were told the petition was ready”.

“On arrival, the administrative officer handed us to another officer, saying we should discuss with the officer as he was rushing off for school.”

“The officer told us that we would have to pay N500,000 for the investigation of the case. When he mentioned this huge sum of money, I almost fainted but controlled myself because I knew we didn’t have such an amount. I managed to bargain for N100,000, just to show him we were serious and play along. He said it was not enough and advised us to pay in two installments”.

“That we should pay N300,000 in advance and, as the work progressed, we should pay the balance of N200,000. We agreed to brief the entire family on our effort with Awkuzu SARS.”

“The family resolved that we should brief the press on what we went through at SARS. We did and, later, heard that the CP had ordered that the case be transferred to the State CID. We were very happy that the press may have informed him of what we were going through”.

“We commend the CP for the action he took knowing fully well the trauma we went through over our stolen son, who has not been seen, even up till now, as we pray God to guide and protect the CP for us. The N25,000 which the SARS collected from us for the petition and N2,000, for the writeup has been returned to us through the Police X-squad, based on the petition we sent to that office.”

When Orient Weekend contacted the Ozubulu divisional police officer, DPO, Mr. Philip Kehinde, on the alleged release of the suspect he said, “it is not true. We sent the suspect to the hospital for treatment because of the injuries she sustained from the mob that meant to lynch her. We will produce her on demand.”

Also, when the Awkuzu SARS commander, Mr. Patrick, was contacted on the matter, he denied the allegation saying, “in every case, there is a complainant and a suspect. Let the family come forward and say it is Okeke or Okafor that received the money. Let me tell you something with police work if you have any issue with a junior rank you meet the senior.”