For the sake of providence, it would have been a tragic affair for Madam Ngozi Oyibo and all other residents of No 1 Prof Avenue, Umudagu Mberi off Stibat, Owerri, Imo State.
On the night of Thursday going into the early hours of Friday, September 18, 2020, about 20 well armed men who later identified themselves as agents of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) stormed the street mentioned in a most commando fashion and raised the premises in what the residents eventually referred to as armed robbery style.
According to a victim of the incident, Mrs Ugomma James, “It is very unfortunate. It is sad. And I am heartbroken. It was around 3.30am on Friday morning, September 18. We suddenly had a big bang at the gate. The bang later became bangs. From the window, we could see them climbing through the fence from the gate side with the aid of a ladder. After that, we could see the security guard being manhandled”.
In an emotion laden voice and misty eyes, Madam James narrated how the EFCC operatives, nearly applying James Hardly Chase method of crime scene, starting from the ground floor, up to their flat in the second floor, bulldozed their way through and, like mid night armed robbers, broke into their flat after tearing away the doors and other security measures.
According to her, “My heart went into my mouth the moment I knew they were coming up stairs. The next thing was the door bell they pressed repeatedly. As they pressed they continued banging at the front door.
“I started praying. My husband asked, who are you? They never answered. I moved to open the door but he pushed me back. I then took my three kids who were then awake and went to the toilet. He came back without opening the door. He rather went and hid at the balcony because it also had a security.
“They eventually got through. Came in, went straight to the toilet and brought my kids and I out. In fact, I begged and begged because I thought they were armed robbers or kidnappers because they were heavily armed.
Later, they started looking for my husband. With their tools, they pulled the veranda open and dragged him out.
In fact, they gave him the beating of his life for labouring them. From here they dragged him downstairs. I quickly ran to them and asked, where are you taking him to, one said Abuja, another Fire Service Police Station and the third Enugu. It was at that point they told me they were EFCC officials. They maintained that they beat my husband because he never opened the door on time. By now they collected all of our phones but returned mine when they were leaving. At that point I never saw my husband again until when they took him to Enugu”.
Speaking, James Kalu, the husband, who was released late on Saturday said it was a bitter experience as there was no search warrant. He said” the entire operation looked like an assassination assignment. They were heavily armed. The timing was frightening and all that. Till now, I am heartbroken”.
Another victim, Ngozi Okoro revealed that she escaped the brutality because she thought that they were armed robbers and so she quickly opened the door.
What would have been the disaster of the night was the resuscitation of a woman with blood pressure who collapsed during the operation. Her daughter, Miss Sunshine was angry at EFCC that she queried the methodology of the raid and threatened to sue the agency.