By Frank Ulom
The Police in Cross River State have arrested not less than 26 persons in connection with the murder of Mrs Martina Okey Itagbor, a mother of four accused of witchcraft in Akamkpa Local Government Area of the State.
CONVERSEER gathered that the 26 suspects were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday (July 4) by a Joint Tactical team of the Nigeria Police Force, Cross River State Command.
According to a police statement, the suspects are currently being questioned over their alleged involvement in the gruesome murder of Mrs Itagbor.
The statement which was signed by SP Irene Ugbo, Police Public Relations Officer in Cross River on Tuesday (July 4), stated that the State’s Commissioner of Police, CP Gyogon Grimah who had earlier vowed to get to the root of the matter said no one will be spared, no matter their position and how long it takes.
The statement read: “We stand unwavering in our resolve, unyielding to any obstacle that may hinder the police from unravelling the depths of this matter.
“Our aim is to restore the public’s confidence, allowing them to live freely and abide by the principles of our constitutionally protected society.
“It is unfortunate that despite lacking concrete proof or hard evidence, this woman, who had been an integral part of the community for countless years, fell victim to a heinous act of violence by some unscrupulous elements.
“To compound the tragedy, she was denied the dignity of a proper burial, as those responsible took the law into their own hands by allegedly washing away the ashes of her remains.
“The prosecution of such criminal elements commences with the apprehension of suspects. Each individual taken into custody will undergo meticulous and professional processing, ensuring that those found guilty will be promptly brought before the court of law.
“The petition lodged by the complainants points fingers at the youths within the community, and as a result, we have summoned all relevant stakeholders, including the village head and youth leader, among others.
“Our actions are guided by the provisions of the law, as we diligently pursue justice, I can assure the good people of Cross River that no matter what happens in this case, nothing will be swept under the carpet neither will the Command leave any stone unturned.
“We will undertake the necessary actions, taking into account the utmost importance of safeguarding and upholding human rights”.
CONVERSEER earlier reported that Mrs Itagbor was accused of witchcraft after two youths (allegedly drunk) died in a car accident while travelling for the reception ceremony of the inaugurated Hon. Okon Owuna, Member representing Akamkpa I State Constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly, on June 13, 2023.
Late Mrs Itagbor was then attacked, her fingers chopped off before being burnt to death and her ash washed into the gutters by the same irate youths who also vandalised her properties on June 18 at Old Netim in Akamkpa.
Earlier, 14 persons were fingered but the number later increased to about 20, including the village head and youth leader.