In the late 1990s and early 2000, CSP Oyekpe was known in Nsukka, a small town in Enugu State, and beyond as a tough cop. He was the police area commander. In fact, his reputation preceded him. Everyone knows his style and what he is capable of doing. Every suspected criminal, who made bail at Nsukka Police Area Command, will always undergo one last ritual before being granted bail; a meeting with CISP Oyekpe.
The brief meeting, usually in the presence of the suspect’s parents, always ends with chilling advice, “The next time I see your face here, I will kill you”. It was a threat he often carried out with relish.
CSP Oyekpe’s accomplice was a certain Inspector Andy. They both had a lot in common, physical strength, toughness, brutality, and apparent dislike for criminals.
While they both shared the same reputation, it was Inspector Andy, who strikes more fear and terror in the mind of Nsukka youth and beyond. Both were known as the nemesis of bad boys, who were mostly alleged armed robbers, cultists, and petty thieves.
They took delight in the execution of anyone caught for or accused of robbery or seen with illegal arms, and this was usually to the pleasure of town folks. They were getting support from all and sundry, and it did not matter if the execution of suspects were extra-judicial. They were courted by the elite in Enugu State and were often contracted to get rid of boys, who were profiled as bad boys.
As months rolled by, it did not take long before Ugwu-nkwo, a hilly village in the outskirt of Nsukka became a weekend tourist centre as residents and people from neighbouring villages trooped to watch the lifeless bodies of suspected armed robbers and cultists executed by Oyekpe and Andy.
However, after the death Oyekpe in the year 2001, Andy took full charge of crime-fighting in and around Nsukka. Although I never had the privilege of meeting with inspector Andy, I had heard so much about him.
Among the human rights NGO circles in the South-East, his name was often mentioned alongside others like Okpontu, Meche, Jude Agbanajelo, James Nwafor, Alifie as the tough executioners within the police in the South-East
In early 2006, while researching for a report on extra-judicial executions in Nigeria, prompted by the impending visit of Prof Philips Alston, the then United Nations Special Rapporteur on EJE to Nigeria, I sought to meet with Inspector Andy. I wanted to understand the psychology behind the public execution of suspected criminals. I wanted to know the motivation behind such brazen disrespect for the rule of law and the sanctity of human life. How do they sleep at night? Do they have nightmare after sending their victims to “Abuja’ as they call it? Do they ever think that their actions will come back to haunt them in future? Unfortunately, Andy flatly refused to see me. According to him, he had no time for those “human rights people” who encourage armed robbers. In fact, it was said that he never allowed lawyers and human rights defenders into his office to seek bail of criminal suspects in his custody. “They are as bad as the armed robbers” he was quoted to usually say. He sternly warned my emissary to inform me to stay away from him, that he will kill me if I dare him.
I may not have met him but I met and spoke with many of his victims. One man told me of how a group of boys between the ages of 15 and 18, who robbed a house in his neighbourhood slept in the room of the son of the owner of the house, hoping to move on the next morning. Unfortunately for them the next morning, Inspector Andy and his team rounded them up, including the man’s son, took them to Ugwu-Nkwo and executed them before a cheering crowd. The man swore his son was innocent.
Another 18-year-old boy was arrested in front of his house by Inspector Andy. The boy was with a friend that night at about 7pm when an ash coloured Volvo car stopped and asked for the direction to a nearby drinking joint. On coming closer, the occupant of the car, who happened to be Inspector Andy, grabbed and handcuffed him before locking him inside his car boot. Two other young men were also captured the same way that night. They were taken to the police station after spending over four hours in the car boot. In fact, he first took them to a beer joint where he had a fill of beer and pepper soup with his friends while they remained in the boot of the car.
Another told me about how he was arrested in front of his home and detained for two days by Andy and his team because according to them “he looked like a criminal”.
When Andy retired from the police force in 2006, he settled down with his family at Nsukka. Everything seems to be going well with him. He had made enough money while in the police. His second son, Austin soon got admission into the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, to study Law. But why study Law when his father had so much disdain for lawyers and the rule of law? Perhaps he may have taken a hint from Mario Puzo, who once said that “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns”.
However, there was a slight problem. Austin soon joined a secret cult and became a kingpin at the university. A source in the streets once told me of how Austin, the only son of the vicious retired police officer, grew through the rank to become one of the hitmen of the Vikings confraternity, a vicious cult group on campus. He was a bad guy. By 2018, he was wanted by the anti-cultism units of the police in Awka and Nsukka. He was on the run, protected perhaps by his father, Andy, the man who a few years back relishes in killing cult members. He could not possibly kill or give up his own blood for execution. As the popular saying goes, “The vicious executioner will never allow anyone to carry a sword over his own head”.
On April 23, 2020, a team of local vigilante operatives finally cornered Austin, the bad guy, at a drinking joint in Nsukka. They knew the implication of killing a high-profile cult leader and son of Inspector Andy. Hence, they took him to the anti-cultism unit of the Nsukka Police Command where he was promptly executed.
As expected, Inspector Andy, now an old man and a retired police officer, was understandably distraught and filled with grief. Why me? he wailed. How can a man who diligently served the country and the Nigeria Police Force for 26 years have his only son killed extra-judicially by the police?
However, on May 3, 2020, Inspector Andy (retd) summoned a team of journalists to a press briefing in the office of his lawyer.
Hear him: “Even if my son was the greatest criminal in the world, they should have arrested and charged him to court instead of killing him extra-judicially. Up till this moment, I have not seen the remains of my son, that is why I am crying to the world to help me beg Nigeria Police Force to release the remains of my son to me. I am pained by the fact that the suspects are still moving freely.”
Oh, what an irony of life! The same vicious and lawless Inspector Andy is now calling on the same human rights organisations and lawyers whom he had derided throughout his career in the police to help him secure justice for the extra-judicial murder of his son?
I was told that a lot of folks in Enugu State are happy concerning his predicament. They said it was Karma at work, that he needs to experience what he made many families go through during his years as a police officer. Some even said it’s divine retribution, that perhaps the blood of his victims are at work.
However, I do not agree with them. For those, who think he deserves this injustice that had befallen him due to the lawlessness of the Nigeria Police Force, which he, Inspector Andy, had also once propagated as a police officer, I beg to disagree. No man deserves injustice.
I beg to differ, in fact, I sincerely agree with him. He deserves justice. Everyone no matter their antecedents deserve justice. Inspector Andy deserves justice. His son, Austin, deserves justice even in death. We all deserve justice.
There is however, a big lesson to be learned here from this story; it is that everyone is a potential victim. What goes around comes around. It is not yet late to address the dysfunctional criminal justice system that allows the likes of Andy and other brutes in SARS to summarily execute suspected criminals with impunity and without recourse to the law. There are still hundreds of Inspector Andy within SARS and other units of the Nigeria Police Force (especially the anti-cult unit) who still believe that the only effective way of addressing the rising crime rate in Nigeria is to execute criminal suspects. For them, the story of Inspector Andy might be useful and instructive. Above all, it speaks to one moral lesson: The next victim might be their children.