Policemen from Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Anambra division, have allegedly injured a 98-year-old woman, Cecilia Okpalaku of Achina in the Aguata Local Government Area of the state, over a family dispute relating to child custody.
According to Punch, the incident happened when the operatives invaded a family home of one Emeka Okpalaku in Achina at the invitation of his estranged wife, Esther Chiemerie Nzekwe from the same Local Government Area.
Emeka, a Japan-based businessman of Achina was married to Esther from Uga some years back.
While Emeka was in Japan, Esther and their daughter stayed back in Achina with his aged mother, Mrs Cecilia Okpalaku his country home.
Emeka Okpalaku, was, however, said to pay occasional visits home to check on his wife and daughter.
But trouble started when the husband visited home to discover that his wife terminated pregnancy for their second child.
It was Esther’s inability to explain reason for aborting the pregnancy that compelled Emeka to threaten to opt-out of the marriage.
Emeka having sent his wife away left their lone daughter in custody of his nonagenarian mother.
The story changed when his embattled wife stormed the husband’s place in Achina with some SARS operatives, to forcefully takeaway their daughter.
It was alleged that the SARS operatives assaulted the 98-year-old woman in the process, as she tried to stop them from taking away the child.
Sources said that the aged woman had since been hospitalised following injuries allegedly inflicted on her by the operatives.
The nonagenarian’s family has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for his intervention in the matter.
In the petition by its lawyer, Charles Asadu, the family decried the alleged assault on Cecilia by the police over a matrimonial issue. The petition read in part:
“We have been briefed and our legal services have been retained by Messrs Josephine Anudu and Euphemia Ekwebele of Umuezeiyi village, Achina in the Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.
“Information reaching us is that armed police men with Ak-47 rifles and wearing black T-shirts with the inscription, F-SARS, in company with Mrs Chiemerie Okpalaku, invaded the premises of our client and physically assaulted their aged mother, Mrs Cecilia Okpalaku, 98.
“The reason behind the attack was that Mrs Chiemerie Okpalaku is an estranged wife of Emeka Okpalaku, son of the aged woman, who resides abroad and has been in marital problems.
“We gathered that it was the aftermath of the matrimonial faceoff that prompted Chiemerie and the officers to attack the aged woman.
“In an effort to subdue our clients, the police used the butts of their AK-47 rifles on the aged woman, who according to our clients, is now admitted in one of the hospitals in Achina.”
When contacted on the telephone, the command’s Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed, confirmed the incident, but described the allegation was false.
Haruna, who gave a different account of the incident, saying that they were never formally married.
He added that the police had since opened investigations on the matter.
“The real fact at issue is that the man confiscated the credentials of his fiancée in order to deny her opportunity of reporting for National Youth Service at the camping site.
“The deadline for reporting to the NYSC Camp was on Aug. 20 with Emeka preparing to travel back to his Japan base.
“The complainant’s lawyer sent in a petition to Anambra Police Command; the commissioner, then, ordered discreet investigation into the matter.
“However, as soon as the suspect sighted the Police, he escaped through a window in the house. The police, then, used power of ingress to gain access into the house.’’