AYOOLA OLASUPO and ADA WODU
The Cross River State Police Command has begun a manhunt into the killing of a woman, Martina Itagbor, accused of witchcraft in the Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state.
Itagbor, a mother of four, was beaten and lynched by an angry mob in the Old Ntem community of the state after she was accused of witchcraft following an auto crash that resulted in the death of two young men and left many others injured.
The state Commissioner of Police, Gyogon Grimah, in a statement by the spokesperson for the command, Irene Ugbo, on Saturday, directed that the perpetrators be arrested and prosecuted.
He described the act as heinous, adding that everything would be done to curtail the further occurrence of such in the future.
He stated, “The issue of jungle justice is one crime that the police do not take lightly, and as such we have already commenced a manhunt for those responsible for the dastardly act. Those responsible, no matter highly placed, will be arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of the land.”
Meanwhile, Governor Bassey Otu, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbeche, on Saturday, also condemned Itagbor’s murder.
The statement partly read, “My attention has been drawn to the alleged burning to death of a citizen of the state, Madam Martina Okey Itagbor, of Old Netim in Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state by some unscrupulous, wild and criminal-minded youths.
“Governor Bassey Otu finds the allegation, if proven true, to be repulsive and against all civility. Governor Otu notes that Cross River State like all parts of Nigeria is governed by constitutional order, therefore, all forms of brigandage and criminal acts will not be tolerated and will be met with the full weight of the law.
“To this end, I am directing the Commissioner of Police in the state to mobilise all tactical and investigative assets and ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to justice.”
Otu, who condoled with the family of the deceased and the community, said it was sheer savagery and cowardice for the youths or anybody to take the laws into their hands, especially when a helpless woman was involved.
The governor called on community leaders, religious institutions and civil society organisations to do more in the area of civic education.