#JusticeforChima: What We Know So Far
By Chioma Ezenwafor, Nonso Isiguzo, Emmanuel Onwuka and Joshua Ezedike
On December 23, 2019, Motor mechanic, Chima Ikwunado died in police custody at Mile One Police Station, Port Harcourt, sparking the Hashtag Justice-for-Chima about three weeks later.
It began trending on social media after the story was shared on Facebook of how Chima and four others were accused of stealing two cars and allegedly tortured by the police.
The story was narrated by Erapamo Eradiri, the man whose car the police accused late Chima and four others of stealing.
The police denied torturing Chima and four others saying an autopsy showed he died of high sugar level. A claim late Chima’s pregnant wife says is not true.
The other four suspects, Victor Ogbonna, Osaze Friday, Ifeanyi Osuji and Ifeanyi Onyekwere were charged to court for car snatching and cultism.
With body wounds, the four men, now known as Ikoku four, were remanded in prison custody after the police charged them to court for car snatching and cultism.
Chima’s death sparked protest as traders in the spare-part market, Ikoku, Port Harcourt where he owned a shop, took to the streets to demand that his corpse be released for autopsy and justice be served.
The protest turned violent and police fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Some protesters were arrested.
The continued detention of the Ikoku Four sparked further public outrage with hashtag #Ikoku4 began trending alongside #JusticeforChima and #EndPoliceBrutality.
Civil society organizations stepped in.
After visiting the Ikoku Four in prison, one of the Rights based organizations, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights raised alarm on the health condition of the Ikoku Four prompting their lawyer to push for bail in court which the court referred to the Directorate of Public Prosecution DPP.
On January 29, the four men were discharged and acquitted by the Magistrate court in Port Harcourt after the DPP said the four accused persons had no case to answer.
Shortly after their release from prison custody, the Ikoku Four spoke to newsmen outside the prison gates and showed their injuries.
One of the Ikoku four, Ifeanyi Onyekwere who had the most swollen open injuries on his two feet, laps and hands named the police officers who he said tortured him.
A footage of Ifeanyi with his open wounds has gone viral.