The Imo State Police Command on Tuesday promised prompt payment of the entitlements of the two policemen who lost their lives during the robbery attack on a Zenith Bank branch on Wetheral Road, Owerri, Imo State.
The state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, while commending The PUNCH Newspapers for doing a “thorough job”, said the police would not abandon the victims’ families.
This is just as Zenith Bank said it would foot the bills for the treatment of Sergeant Otu Attang, who lost one of his eyes during the attack.
The company said it would also sponsor the education of the children of the late two cops, Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko and Sergeant Sunday Agbo.
PUNCH Metro had reported that a gang of four attacked the Zenith Bank branch on February 22, 2017, carting away some undisclosed amount of money from a customer whom they trailed to the premises.
However, the incident gained public attention early June when footage of the bank’s Closed Circuit Television Camera, which captured the moments of the robbery, was released to the public.
The 2.58 minutes video, which immediately went viral, showed a courageous Chuwkwudi engaging the robbers in a gun duel from a security post at the bank’s entrance.
One of the robbers, later identified as Ikechukwu Opara, was shot dead while sneaking to the security post.
Soon after, Chukwudi could be seen running out of the security post as one of the robbers shot continuously in his direction.
He was said to have died the following day, following gunshot injuries he sustained during the attack.
Another policeman with him on the premises, Agbo, was also said to have died shortly afterwards, while the third policeman, Attang, lost one of his eyes.
In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH Newspapers, Chukwudi’s widow, Rose, lamented that one of their eight children, Chukwuebuka, died from shock during the burial of the father.
The PUNCH Newspapers and some social activists, led by Kayode Ogundamisi, in response to the call of readers and Nigerians from different parts of the world, inaugurated a GofundMe account to raise $15,000 for the family, a feat that was achieved within 24 hours.
However, the Imo State CP, Ezike, during a press briefing at the command’s headquaters in Owerri, described the slain cops as heroes who would never be forgotten.
He recalled that shortly after the robbery, the command got a marching order to arrest the robbers that killed the cops who were from the 18 Police Mobile Force Squadron, Owerri.
Ezike said investigations led to the arrest of the robbery suspects, which included 36-year-old Justice Ogbonna, aka JJ; Abiye Charles; and Okechukwu Nwanegbo, aka Modestus.
The commissioner said the police recovered two AK-47 rifles and one AK-49 rifle with 175 rounds of ammunition from the suspects.
Also recovered were four cars – one Toyota Avalon, two Toyota Camry, and one Toyota Corrolla.
“Let me state for the avoidance of doubt that the trio of Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko, Sergeant Sunday Agbo and Sergeant Otu Attang, remain our heroes. They were gallant, professional, and courageous; they displayed encouraging passion in defence of lives and property. The Nigeria Police Force, under the able leadership of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has not, did not and will not abandon them and/or their families.
“As you are well aware, the Nigeria Police Force is a Federal Government agency governed by laws, rules and regulations in all matters, including financial matters. Be rest assured, therefore, that the financial rights, entitlements, benefits and even privileges of these our own shall be fully paid, and on time too.
“The two deceased officers were recommended for posthumous promotion, while the injured officer was also recommended for a special promotion to his next rank. I am very confident that very soon, the Inspector-General of Police will graciously announce the promotions. Similarly, the command is in constant touch with the families of the deceased officers. We have made and will continue to make financial assistance to cushion the effect of the loss of their loved breadwinners.”
He said the management of the bank gave financial assistance for the burial expenses of the victims and released start-up business funds for the deceased families.
Ezike noted that the bank also agreed to be giving monthly allowances to the families, including a promise of scholarship to any level of education for the children of the deceased officers.
He thanked Nigerians for their support since the security video went viral, saying the job of protecting lives and property could be hazardous.
The police boss said the state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, had promised to meet the families of the policemen.
PUNCH Metro learnt that one Mr. John Ekweanuo of Sparvi Charity Foundation Worldwide presented the sum of N500,000 to Chukwudi’s family at the briefing.
A blogger, IfeanyiCy Njoku, who made the presentation, said the foundation was touched by the bravery of the policeman.
“The money was presented to the widow in the presence of heads of police formations in Imo State and the state Commissioner of Police,” he added.
GoFundMe account swells
Meanwhile, Nigerians have not stopped contributing towards the welfare of the seven children and widow of late Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko.
On the GoFundMe account page created by The PUNCH Newspapers and some social activists, about 465 people have raised $18,758, which is in excess of the $15,000 target.
The donors lauded the courage displayed by Chukwudi and urged the government to review the insurance policy of policemen in the country.
In order to ensure the judicious use and management of the funds, PUNCH has selected two non-governmental organisations to join Kayode Ogundamisi, the social activist who spearheaded the creation of the appeal to arrange for the withdrawal of the funds and its transfer to the beneficiaries.
The account is domiciled in the United States.
The two organisations are the Development Support Initiative, whose Director is Mrs. Jackline Odiadi, and Rock of Ages Foundation (Abuja), whose head is Mr. Ignatius Ezeigbo.
The two NGOs agreed to arrange for the disbursement, travel to the family and other related issues for free and without making any deductions from the funds.