A frontline anti-domestic violence advocacy group, Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF) has chided the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly being used to intimidate and harass the mother and brothers of late Bimbo Martins Ogbonna by her husband, Mr Ikechukwu Ogbonna.
Bimbo, documented by some respected anti-domestic violence bodies and activists as a victim of Intimate Partner Violence, died after she reportedly sustained 95 percent burns in the house. It was alleged that rather than rescue her, her husband opted to video record her inside their locked apartment, which led to him being charged for negligence leading to her death.
At a press conference in Abuja on Monday, MARF Executive Director, Barrister Lemmy Ughegbe decried the arrest and intimidation of Bimbo’s grieving mother, Mrs Ebele Comfort Martins, and her brothers allegedly at Mr Ogbonna’s instance.
“It is laughable that Mr Ogbonna alleged that Bimbo’s mother stole $20,000 from his house.
“On the 24th December, officers of the Lagos State Police Command arrested the grieving old mother of Bimbo and her two sons at the instance of Mr Ikechukwu Ogbonna who claimed that she stole $20,000 belonging to him from his apartment on the same day that Bimbo was gutted by fire”, Ughegbe said.
He further said that Mr Ogbonna’s claim is laughable because upon the news of his wife’s death, he immediately made a voice note recording, explaining that he did not abscond on the day of the fire incident, but left to seek financial assistance from his friends and associates to enable him pick Bimbo’s hospital bills.
“While we concede the right of the police to investigate allegations of crime, no citizen should be unduly detained on flimsy allegations, which lack credibility and iota of evidence like the one made by Mr Ogbonna upon which the police had to detain the old woman for twelve solid hours”, Ughegbe said.
According to him, Mr Ogbonna’s allegations leading to the arrest of the trio was a study in contradiction and, on the face of it, the police ought to have been dismissed them within a few minutes of interrogation.
“You all will recall that after Mr Ogbonna came out of hiding and handing himself over to the police who had been on his hunt over his alleged role in the fire that burnt his wife and led to her death, he claimed that he went to meet friends and associates to raise money for her medical bills”, the MARF Executive Director recalled.
“How can the same man who wrote in his statement at Panti Police Station and on Instagram that he didn’t have money for her hospital bills and that was why he went looking for financial support from friends and associate, suddenly wake up to claim he had $20,000 in the house, which was stolen by his mother in-law?”, Ughegbe quizzed.
“An impartial police would easily see through this tissue of lies and not keep the old woman in detention for twelve hours. Instead, the police played dumb and allowed themselves to be used as tools to harass and intimidate the grieving family.
“To detain an old grieving woman on the eve of Christmas for 12 solid hours without any deference to her age or the fact that she has just lost her daughter and is traumatized by the circumstances of that loss is totally unacceptable, reprehensible and condemnable,” he said.
Ughegbe said that, as they have shown by the alleged assault on the grieving family, the police have shown that they lack emotional intelligence and the knowledge of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder associated with losing a child or a sister as in the instant case.
He called on the Inspector General of Police to call the Lagos State Police Command to order in order not to have the reputation of the police, which he has been working hard to clean up, muddied further.
Meanwhile, the investigation unit of Make-a-Difference Initiative, headed by Comrade Jacob Edi had ran a check on Mr Ogbonna and concluded that he has been in dire straits financially for quite some time.
The report stated that Mr Ogbonna even had to sell some choice wrist watches to offset various debts he owes people.
A check on the estate also shows that it is gated and access cannot be granted any visitor or family member without the permission of a resident, the report added.
The report of the investigative unit of Make-a-Difference Initiative also stated that any member of the family visited the scene of the incident only in the company of the Police at Panti and Mr Ogbonna to conduct Forensic, Fire Report and to take some of the children’s clothing.